The alternative guide to swimming in Cornwall

When the hotel’s general manager Mark mentioned he stumbled across (and not into) Lanhydrock’s Victorian pool, it got us thinking. Cornwall is home to some beautiful alternative bathing spots – some of which you can still swim in, some are just simply worth taking a moment to look at. Here’s a list of our favourites.

Jubilee pool

Jubilee Pool

With sweeping art deco curves and bright blue and white modernist lines, it’s easy to think that the Jubilee Pool (above) is somewhere in the south of France, and not in Penzance. Designed in the early 1930s, it was a much loved and used pool until the storms of February 2014 caused serious structural damage. Tragically the pool is no longer open, but the future looks bright with a multi-million pound grant secured last year. Visit www.jubileepool.co.uk for more information or to donate to the ‘Save our Lido’ campaign.

Porthtowan tidal pool

Seek and you shall be rewarded. Cornwall’s north coast is dotted with small secluded tidal pools that offer protected bathing from strong swells. This one can be found hidden 300m along the coastal path to the right of Porthtowan beach. It’s a place where mermaids could exist, with blue and purple seaweed lining the bottom of the pool and waves breaking against the side.

Swim Club at Watergate Bay

Swim Club at Watergate Bay

Far away from the hubbub of everyday life is Swim Club – a secluded area of Watergate Bay Hotel designed for both kicking back and relaxing, or (if you really want to) being active. Here you’ll find the largest indoor swimming pool in Cornwall. The stunning infinity pool overlooks Watergate Bay and reflects the colours of the sea and sunset. With floor-to-ceiling rollback doors, it opens up onto a terrace in warmer weather – the perfect spot to curl up with a book or drink. Day Membership has been designed so that even those not staying at the hotel can enjoy a slice of calm.

Port Eliot Estuary

Port Eliot

Port Eliot estate has been inhabited for more than 1,000 years and is now home a burgeoning literary festival. Set in 6,000 acres of parkland, the gardens and park stretch down to a secret estuary of the river Lynher (above) where festival-goers leap and dive in the obligatory festival wild swim.

Nanjizal Bay

Head way out west in deepest, darkest Cornwall, and then a little bit further, and you’ll almost be at Nanjizal Bay. This is wild Cornwall, just around the corner from the tourist trap of Land’s End. To the left of the beach you’ll find the ‘Song of the Sea’ eyelet rock arch. Here you can bathe in the shallow rock pool before snorkelling through the sea tunnel, admiring the coralline pink walls as you go.

Lanhydrock pool
Above left ©Kate Evans from National Trust

Lanhydrock

Lanhydrock house in Cornwall is presented as the perfect Victorian country house, owned once by the Robartes family. The water in the family’s swimming pool was drained away at the beginning of the century and never refilled. Unused, its condition gradually deteriorated and it was a major reclamation job by the National Trust in the 1990’s. Nowadays, the tranquil and eerie beauty of the pool is occasionally disrupted when it becomes a cooling-down spot for dogs.

Bude Sea Pool

This semi-natural pool sits under the curl of Bude’s Summerleaze Beach and has provided a safe haven for swimmers from some North Cornwall’s strongest swells since its opening in the 1930s. Visit on a summer’s day and you’ll find a sprawling, sparkling expanse of water – a place to escape modern life, laze, splash or bathe.

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