Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wild Swimming in the Peak District- Little Barbrook

My usual dipping routine since the start of 2018 involves finding a small stream which is deep enough for a quick submersion- sometimes only possible if I lay down. I think this goes to show that you really don’t need much in order to feel exhilarated. But as I have been getting more used to cold water, I wanted to start venturing to different spots in the Peak District so that I could take my few seconds long dips to the next level. You can imagine my absolute excitement when I discovered Little Barbrook, where you can actually properly swim, with the water being deep enough in the middle to not even be able to touch the bottom. And the best thing about it is that the place feels secluded, even though you are only a few minutes from the car. It’s literally in the middle of some of the best grit stone climbing in the Peaks as well and so if you are a climber/wild swimmer convert, this place is an absolute magic.

I went for the first time on Sunday with my friend Ellie but loved it so much that I ended up going back a few days later with Craig for post after work sunset micro adventure. My hair is still wet from the water as I type this up, which is helping me remember that this adventure, although brief has really taken place. Somehow I think that this spot will be a new favourite?

Little Barbrook has a quality of a much more remote place despite being 10 minutes walk from the road 

Wild swimming in March has an interesting feel to it. You no longer need to break the ice (some swimmers had to do this just a few weeks before) and it feels warmer but it is not quite warm enough to feel that you can stay in the water for too long. (Unless you are totally hardcore of course). We stayed in for about a minute which was quite enough to get the pins and needles on the way out. I don’t know about anyone else but the first few seconds of cold water exposure are so hard that I question a) my sanity and b) whether I actually enjoy this kind of pain? But if you have done any cold water swimming you will know that this is quickly followed by warmth and a flurry of endorphins making you feel elated and invincible! So you go in for the double dip and repeat the process just to get that addictive feeling again.

                                     The post dip endorphin fuelled high- very addictive! 

Skinny dipping is always a good idea but during the colder months it is even better as you don’t have the faff of taking your soggy swimming costume off. So wait for a clear window with no walkers around and enjoy the swim!

                       Lose your inhabitations, lose your clothes and swim free

All there is left to do afterwards is to grab your flask, close your eyes and relish the experience.  
I find it hard to do guided meditations as it feels forced but this is definitely a form of meditation for me. There is just a feeling of content which somehow makes you so connected to yourself.

        It's amazing how content you can be after just a short swim              

How to get there
The spot is located pretty much in the middle of the A621 between Owler Bar and Baslow in the Big Moor. Google Barbrook Stone circle which is a spot off the bridleway, not far from Little Barbrook and it will direct you to it. 

                        The walk to Little Barbrook is really nice and adds to the adventure 

It is also on marked on the OS map. There is a small lay-by where you can park your car, just at the start of the bridleway. Walk about 10 minutes until you see Little Barbrook come into view.


Adders are common, so don't let this put you off! Leave them alone and they will leave you alone too

As always, exercise caution when wild swimming. I don’t know of any different dangers around, although I did see an adder which is apparently quite the common sight around the area so watch out of you are bringing your dog.

                                    Post swim tea- essential! 

Massive thanks to very knowledgable Owen Haeman from Sheffield Outdoor Plungers for the recommendation. If you are Sheffield based and are looking to get into Wild Swimming, join the friendly Facebook group for gold information like this and like minded swimming buddies.



  1. Amazing article - so inspiring!

  2. Hi Poppy,
    Little barbrook looks lovely.
    Could you tell me where it lies relative to Barbrook Stone Circle
    Eg N, S, E, or ~x xmany metres


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