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Wild swimming in the river Trent.

June 6, 2020

Downstream of Nottingham

One of my projects for the 2020 lock-down summer has been to swim the best spots. If you don’t mind disclaimer forms, safety briefings, and signing in and out [1], there’s a dedicated centre on Colwick Park lake (click here). But that’s not for me. For swimming spots in the gravel pits click here.

These swims are for privateers. Only East Stoke, Stoke Wharfe, Farndon and Holme are on the right, south/east bank. Update 16 June 2020 – Cromwell. 1 June 2021 – two right (south) bank spots, East Stoke and Stoke Wharf added. 25 July 2021 – Stoke Bardolph revised. 5 August 2022 – Holme added

Stoke Bardolph – Left bank 

Right in front of the Ferry Boat pub, two or three slipways and landing stages provide easy access. Crowded on sunny days. Alternatively follow the first straight section of the metalled riverside path upstream towards Bardolph weir; many good gravelly entry points.

Stoke Bardolph is about 100 yards upstream of the discharge from Severn Trent’s, state of the art, treatment plant. Upsteam’s good!.

Gunthorpe – Left bank

Park in front of the Unicorn Hotel, and swim off the metal boat ramp next to the water ski club.


Don’t forget Gunthorpe gravel pit. Some fishermen claim swimming is prohibited there, so be discreet. Walk under the road bridge for about 1/2 mile, and turn right immediately after footbridge. Lots of easy access and a lovely stony bed. Magical.


Hoveringham – Left bank 

On sunny days the parking along the river bank road gets full early, but the bank is stony and access easy. Any slight smell is from muck-spreading on the surrounding fields, not the river.

Hazleford – Left bank 

One of my favourites. The metal slipway at the end of the road provides easy access, albeit slippery. The car park is private and locked, but there’s plenty of space on the road. The boat moorings leave a sheltered area near the slipway for those who are nervous of venturing into midstream.

If the slipway’s crowded try upstream, along the river path, past the moorings and caravan park. Plenty of the fishing pegs have good access. I swam by the Km 23 mark.

Downstream less good. Although plenty of access below the weir, the water tends to be frothy.

East Stoke – Right (south) bank. New 2021

Travelling south from Farndon, on the old A47 (Fosse Way), turn right into East Stoke and follow the unsurfaced road past Stoke Hall, all the way to the river opposite Fiskerton. Ample parking and a good path to a rickety wooden stage. Muddly, but the stage helps your balance. On sunny days an audience from the Bromley Arms opposite.

Fiskerton – left bank

Park about 1/4 mile downstream of the Bromley Arms and walk upstream. The problem here is the high river wall. Don’t even think of jumping! Some pontoons are barred off, and they all have “private mooring” signs, but no-one has ever objected to me using one of the open ones. Getting back on is tricky. Swim round to the river wall – shallow stony bed – and step back on with your dignity intact.


Peg 18 below Fiskerton – left bank

Park as above and walk downstream. Nottingham Piscatorial Society have marked their fishing pegs with numbers set in the grass. Peg 18’s label is obscured but it’s the best spot. If you avoid the fishing season, usually quiet enough for a skinny dip.

Stoke Wharf – Right (south) bank. New 2021

Midway between Farndon and East Stoke on the Fosse Way, a barred, field entrance has room to park. Fifty yards from the road, each fishing peg has beautiful stone steps providing easy access. Peg 13 for me! Outside of the bend but I just about made headway against the current. The downstream pegs provide easy exits for weaker swimmers. A lovely private spot.

Note added 15 April 2023. An anonymous person calling themselves Secretary Newark Federation has written, “Please be aware that our land at East Stoke is private and says so on the locked gate, which you mention in your description, anyone found parking or swimming will be reported to the police.”

Farndon – Right (South) bank

From the roundabout at the south end of Newark bypass, take the B166, the old Fosse Way to Farndon. Turn right, then left, initially following signs to Farndon marina. Ignore the 2nd right to Farndon marina and follow signs to The Waterfront. Sandy ramp. Lovely.

North Muskham – left bank

Down Ferry Lane to the Muskham Ferry pub, and swim off the slipway.

Holme – right bank (New 2022)

Opposite the Admiral Nelson in Winthorpe follow signs to Holme. Over level crossing, and left at T junction. Footpath from village centre leads to some good spots opposite, and a few hundred yards downstream, of Muskham Ferry. But there were cows and fishermen about, and I had a dog.

Alternatively turn right in Holme, and park at the end of the road. Follow the track downstream, past the active gravel pits right, with their “deep cold water” and “danger of death” signs. About 500 yards upsteam of the weir was very isolated. Perfect for a skinny dip.

Cromwell – left bank

A farm track, signed as a footpath, from Cromwell village, crosses the A1 as a single track road to the lock. Plenty of parking at the sign which says “no parking or boat launching at the lock”. Upstream of the lock, by two brick barbeques, a ramp leads to a pontoon with steps into the water at each end. Perfect.

Carlton-on-Trent – left bank

Head for the Church, and Ferry Lane. The road to the river, Perry Lane, is full of “no access to river” signs so I parked back up in the village. In fact there is parking. Two possible swim spots. Upstream of the commercial wharf, access looks easy via stony muddy banks, but I was nervous of a metal detectorist on the opposite bank.

The wharf itself has a ladder down to the water, but it’s high and muddy and my courage failed again. About 1/4 mile downstream is best. Stony and a bit muddy, but a good gap in the nettles. The opposite bank also looked inviting.

Carlton is downstream of Cromwell weir, so right at the tidal limit. But it’s on the outside of the bend so you’re straight into fast flow. I kept station, but only just. If you got carried downstream, you’d end up clambering out through nettle beds.

I’ve never swum below Carlton. There must be good spots but I doubt they beat the ones above.

Jim Thornton


  1.  One of the annoyances of river swimming is people banging on about the risks. Learn to swim and avoid the river in spate or near weirs. Weil’s disease is rare; only about 30 recreational cases, and less than one death, per year in the UK. Given the number of people coming into contact with river water, the drive to the riverbank is probably more risky, but avoid swimming with an open cut. Gastroenteritis is less of a risk for us older swimmers who don’t wear wet suits, don’t stay in so long, have developed antibodies and are wise enough not to swallow.
11 Comments leave one →
  1. Deb's Main permalink
    November 23, 2020 9:16 pm

    Hi Jim,
    Have you tried The Railway lake near Thurgaton/Gonalston?
    Looks like it might be a good spot.
    Railway lake
    Hoveringham, Nottingham NG14 7JG

  2. Anthony Green permalink
    June 6, 2021 4:49 pm

    Have you ever swam near Beeston, Trent bridge area if not would you. Thanks newbee.πŸ‘

    • July 18, 2021 4:50 pm

      Haven’t. Would in theory, lovely bit of river. But in practice prefer to avoid crowded places. Changing discretely is tricky, & don’t need the “Can’t swim here mate” merchants.

  3. Tim Webster permalink
    June 21, 2021 1:04 am

    Beware at Cromwell that you don’t accidentally (or intentionally) go over the weir.
    In 1975, 10 TA parachutists lost there lives when they went over the weir. It took several days for the weir to release their bodies. There is a memorial to them beside the lock.

    • June 22, 2021 7:31 am

      Too right! Didn’t know that story, but a very dangerous weir. Will look out for the memorial at my next visit.

  4. Ricc permalink
    March 3, 2022 6:03 pm

    Hey Jim,

    Just wondering if you have ever swam further north near/around Littleborough? We’re staying up near there this weekend on the hunt for good spots for a fresh dip1


    • March 4, 2022 10:34 am

      Fraid not. Downstream (north) of Cromwell weir the river is tidal so need to check tide tables for Littleborough. Should be OK for a couple of hours on either side of high tide. Take care.

  5. Sabina Schaflinger permalink
    October 18, 2022 2:10 pm

    Wonderful resource! Very encouraging and helpful. Thank you 😊 sabina


  1. Wild swimming in the Trent gravel pits |
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