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Wild swimming in the Trent gravel pits

November 30, 2020

Sand and gravel has been quarried along the Trent for hundreds of years. The two official swimming lakes, Colwick Park (click here) and the Notts County Sailing Club lake at Hoveringham (click here or here for details) will suit many. But organised wild swimming? Not me.

Some lakes are inaccessible, or too closely guarded by their owners, but a few are perfect for a discreet dip. For swimming spots on the river click here.

9 Sept 2021 update – No swimming in Bleasby Lake


Three lakes run alongside the railway line here. The smaller ones at either end are heavily  fished – no swimming. But the middle and largest, Railway Lake, is perfect. A sailing, canoeing & windsurfing club has put up all sorts of entry barriers, and their groundsman believes the whole lake is “no swimming”, so be discreet.


Enter by the path at Thurgaton station, but avoid the main footpath along the railway line. It’s over a mile before you can cross the ditch separating you from the lake.  Instead follow the permissive path signs, through an unlocked gate and along the north shore. The further you go, the more private it gets.


The best spots are where the trees give way to grass and reeds.

Lovely clean gravel beds. No weeds. Just me and the dragon flies.


The Gunthorpe lakes are all owned by angling clubs, who fish all year, and don’t like swimmers. I swam in Dollar Lake, the largest one adjacent to the river. If you walk in from the river bank on a quiet day, there no fences, and the fishermen tend to drive in from the opposite direction.


Bleasby Lake, at the end of Sycamore Lane, near the sawmill, is the only swimmable lake in Bleasby. There’s usually a few fishermen, but it’s rarely crowded, and they’ve never objected to me swimming. Loads of good access points. Weedy in parts.

Update 9 September 2021 – Swimming is not allowed in the fishing pond at the end of Sycamore Lane. See comment from Ruth Dyson below.

Jubilee Ponds would be perfect, and they’re accessible on foot down Borrow Bread Lane, but sadly, “No swimming”.


Gibsmere lake is also private fishing only – “No swimming”.  But don’t despair. There’s a couple of good spots on the Trent at Hazleton (click here).

Newark/South Muskham

There are many flooded pits between Newark and South Muskham, mostly around the sugar factory. But they’re all fishing lakes, or inaccessible, or both.

North Muskham

North Muskham Lake Nature Reserve (click here) is “no swimming”.  But walk north (downstream) from The Muskham Ferry pub (click here), past the fenced-off Nature Reserve lake. The second lake is set back behind grassland and invisible from the path, but the third is adjacent to the path with easy access. An idyllic spot.



You can swim in the river (click here) but the local gravel pit is still being worked by Tarmac – definitely no swimming!

Jim Thornton

7 Comments leave one →
  1. harriett permalink
    December 27, 2020 11:40 am


    Do you know of any good swimming spots that you can access from the south side of the river?

    • December 27, 2020 2:41 pm

      Good question. Afraid I don’t. Project for next summer to investigate. 🙂

  2. Ruth Hall permalink
    September 9, 2021 11:43 am

    As the Owners of the fishing pond at the end of Sycamore Lane I wish to inform you that there is strictly no swimming allowed.

  3. Jessica Meyer permalink
    February 27, 2022 2:20 pm

    Hello, lovely website thanks so much. Do you know of any free swimming spots near Long Eaton or Beeston, or within a ten minute drive of? Thanks very much!

    • March 2, 2022 12:42 pm

      Ah! Good question Jessica. I’d be nervous of swimming near the weirs at Trent Lock or Sawley. But there must be spots upstream between Beeston and Burton, although I’ve never tried. Maybe I should investigate. If you find any let me know and I’ll post. Good luck. Jim


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