We may only get a few days a year when the weather permits us to dare swim outdoors in Britain, but when that day finally comes, you'll know exactly where to go thanks to our top picks of places to take a dip.

If you have your own suggestions, feel free to share them below; the best ones may even be rewarded.

Look out for these icons for advice on the trip's suitability:

 = dog-friendly     = young family-friendly

(Just remember to put your dog in a carrier when you take him or her in a Zipcar, them's the rules.)

Plus we've indicated the destinations' nearest Zipcar city and the closest Zipcar to the train station for Londoners making a real break away from metropolis.


Severn Bore  

Distance from Bristol: 38.6 miles; Zipcars parked at Bristol Temple Meads Station

The Severn Bore is a fantastic and rare natural phenomenon (caused by the tidal range at the river’s estuary), producing the kind of waves perfect for surfing. Be sure to check out the site for the best time to ride the waves.

The Bore is best viewed from the village of Minsterworth, Gloucestershire, GL2


Silent Pool  

Distance from Central London: 32 miles

Why not make your way into the Surrey Hills and discover the Silent Pool. Considered by some to be a sacred site, this natural spring-fed lake oozes natural beauty with translucent waters, stunning scenery and hauntingly quiet surroundings. If you're feeling brave you may want to cool off and dip more than a toe in, but watch out for the ghostly Legend of the Woodsman’s Daughter, drowned whilst escaping the seductive advances of King John! Newlands Corner is just around... well the corner, bring along a picnic and soak up the inspiring views of Surrey's green and pleasant land. If all that walking gets you parched, pop into the Drummond Arms of Albury and dangle your feet in the gently flowing river Tillingbourne that runs past the pub garden - but remember, don't drink and zip!

Shere Road, Albury, Guildford, Surrey, GU5 9BW; free entry

Newlands Corner


Grantchester Meadows  

Distance from Cambridge: 4 miles; Zipcars parked at Cambridge Station

Be brave and take a plunge into the River Cam at Cambridge and float down to Grantchester Meadows, made famous by the Pink Floyd song of the same name. Relax and soak up the sounds and smells of the riverside as you get pulled downstream by a gentle current. This lazy and hazy river couldn’t be further removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. Be inspired like many great figures of our past including Virginia Woolf, Lord Byron and Rupert Brooke who bathed in the river and camped out under the stars. We recommend you bring a non-swimming friend to keep hold of towels and flip flops (and keys!). Dry off and recharge at the gorgeous Orchard Tea Rooms which (unsurprisingly!) is set in an orchard. Alternatively if wild swimming isn’t your bag (or it's just a bit too chilly!), pick up a punt in Cambridge and float down in style.


Frensham Ponds  

Distance from Central London: 45.5 miles

You don’t have to travel to the coast to enjoy the beach. This man-made pond, created in the 13th Century to supply fish to the Bishop of Winchester boasts a wonderful sandy beach with a buoyed off swimming area, perfect for a day out of the City. Pack a lunch or grab food at a kiosk selling hot food and ice cream. Don't fancy a paddle? Bring the dog and take a walk round the ponds and soak in the wildlife of this protected area and look out for the ancient dam, built by Monks in 1246.

Priory Lane, Frensham, Surrey, GU10 3BT; free entry


Distance from Bristol: 24 miles; Zipcars parked at Bristol Temple Meads Station

If you fancy topping up the tan (or to even out your sun burn) then one of the UK's longest stretches of sandy beach is within easy reach of Bristol at Weston-super-Mare. It's the quintessential British seaside town complete with donkey rides and a pier. The original pier sadly burned down in 2008, but it re-opened in 2010 with new state of the art games and rides, including a 4D cinema, a laser maze and all the classic arcade games. If you like to enjoy all the sea offers without getting wet, the the SeaQuarium is definitely worth a visit. Stroke rays, walk through the daunting underwater tunnel and get up close to British sea life, learn about the evolution of creatures from water to land, and much more.

Marine Parade, Weston-Super-Mare, BS23 1BE; adult ticket to SeaQuarium: £8.50



Distance from Central London: 42.7 miles

Oh we do like to be beside the seaside, and luckily the beaches and seafront attractions of Southend, Essex, are right on London's doorstep. Besides the popular sandy beaches, you can promenade along the world's longest pier (or take the train to the end), test your bravery on the roller coasters at Adventure Island, or get up close and personal with sharks and rays at Sea Life Adventure. Fancy getting a bit more active? Why not take a kite-surfing class, or hire a bike and catch the sea breeze as you cycle along the sea front.

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