The Countryside Council for Wales have issued the following:
Wild Swimming Code – Consultation Draft
The rivers and lakes of Wales are an amazing place to swim; offering beautiful scenery, crystal clean water and a sense of peace and tranquillity. Help keep them special and preserve them for future generations. Make sure that you:
- Respect other people
- Protect the natural environment
- Enjoy the outdoors and stay safe
Respect other people
- The countryside is a working environment; please respect local landowners and farmers. Stick to public rights of way or other established footpaths and follow the Countryside Code at all times.
- Don’t trespass. You shouldn’t assume that you have access onto private property without the owner’s permission: Do not interfere with the rights of others, such as fishing, farming or shooting rights.
- Consider the local community:
- Don’t obstruct property or field entrances with your vehicle
- Use gates and stiles wherever possible.
- Be aware that anglers may be casting from the bank side. Make sure they are aware of your presence and try not to get in their way.
- Be aware that people may be coming down the river or lake in a craft:
- Stay visible – if necessary, wear a brightly coloured hat.
- Make it easy for other people to avoid you.
- Don’t change in front of people – be discreet if you need to change out of wet things in public places.
Protect the natural environment
- Fish lay their eggs in the shallow parts of the river between autumn and spring; they may be very vulnerable at this time and it is an offence to harm them.
- Avoid damaging plants in and around the water. Stick to established paths or bare rock. If available, use guidebooks, local information or signs to find out the best places to get in and out of the water.
- Take care not to alarm birds and other animals as they may be very sensitive to disturbance. Be aware that ground-nesting and hole-nesting birds may be breeding on islands, banks and shingle in the spring; be particularly careful not to disturb them at this time, particularly those that are legally protected from disturbance (e.g. kingfisher, little-ringed plover).
- Introducing invasive species of plants and animals to watercourses may have very serious effects on the habitats found there. You can prevent this by checking, cleaning and drying your clothing and equipment thoroughly before going to a new place. For more information, visit the Non-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) pages on DEFRA’s website – www.defra.gov.uk
Enjoy the outdoors and stay safe
- You are responsible for your own safety.
- Know your limits, swim with others if possible or let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Have a way of raising an alarm if you need help.
- Check the weather forecast before you leave home. Remember that water conditions may change while you are out.
- Check the water before you dive in:
- Make sure that there aren’t any hidden objects in the water.
- Make sure that is deep enough for you not to hit the bottom.
- Remember that the way you dive in will affect how deep you go.
- Always make sure you know how to get in and out of the water safely.
- Take care around the water’s edge as rocks, grass and mud can be slippery and unstable.
- Always follow the advice on warning signs on or around water, particularly around man made features such as reservoirs.
- Have your route planned if you’re going to swim long distance:
- Be aware that being a strong swimmer in a pool may not make you a proficient swimmer outside.
- Make sure you have identified places to get out of the water if you need to.
- The shock of diving into cold water can sometimes cause hyperventilating and even lead to drowning:
- Enter cold water slowly and make sure that you have planned a safe way to get out.
- Hypothermia can set in after prolonged periods in cold water:
- If you feel your arms getting weak, your fingers going numb or muscle cramping then get out of the water as soon as possible.
- Diseases like Leptospirosis or Weil’s Disease are present in some water courses, particularly small lakes, ponds or slow flowing rivers. If entering suspect water:
- Cover all cuts and abrasions with waterproof plasters
- Wear footwear to avoid cutting your feet
- Avoid swallowing water
- Wash or shower as soon possible after getting out
- Contact your doctor if you start experiencing flu like symptoms
If you see sewage entering a watercourse call Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s hotline on 0800 085 3968 or you can also report pollution or other wildlife crime by calling 0800 80 70 60. For non-emergencies such as access issues and property damage you can contact the police on 101.