Take the plunge, best cold water swimming spots near our cottages

Why cold water swim?

In a world which is being lived more and more online where we are insulated in warmth and comfort. This seems at odds with the growing trend for swimming in cold water.  The attractiveness of dipping into lakes and seas any time of year often in just a swimming costume, does seem a bit extreme, so why is it so popular?

Full disclosure, I love a cold water plunge. I've tried rivers, lakes and always take a dip in the Atlantic when I'm visiting Porthleven.

There is something all encompassing about getting into cold water. It impacts your whole body. Impacting our breathing, focus and it makes us tingle from head to toe. It's no wonder that people report reduced anxiety, improved mental health and less inflammation amongst many other positive affects.

I'm lucky enough to live close to water, with three epic rivers winding their way through the three counties . Yet poor water quality and safety can be off putting to many. So here's a few recommendations for lovely safe spots where you can try cold water swimming with life guards and knowing you won't go home with a dodgy tummy.

If you feel you need it, there are introductions to cold water swimming too, so you can take your new experience home and try it where you live.

Read on for some great places to dip near our cottages.

Try dipping in a Lake in Worcestershire

We are blessed with a host of swimming lakes around us, which have been certified for swimming in the last few years. A number have lifeguarding and safety measures in place, as well as other facilities and activities on site. Book for a retreat, or introduction to cold water swimming, or just book a session and share the moment with others or friends and enjoy a lovely cup of chai or hot chocolate to warm up afterwards.

Escape to The Lake - Set in farmland, at the North end of the Malvern Hills. Open for social swims at set times through the week and at weekends, Booking essential. Prices from £7.50

Watersedge Club - Set in open countryside near Evesham, with retreat offerings and training camps, as well as a a cute coffee hut and seating to enjoy a hot drink and cake by the lake. There's plenty of parking and full lifeguarding on site and changing in. the stretch tent. Prices from £7.50

Barefoot & Bower - just into Herefordshire, this stunning wooded spot offers swimming, without lifeguarding, but you can book to go with a friend for safety. Book via NOWCA, this one is for the more experienced wild swimmer.

Lake swimming is a wonderful serene experience, with nature in and around you, as well as the sounds of wild life. It is calm without the noise of a public pool or the chlorine, why not give it a go.


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Plunge into Cornish seas for a cold water dip

When visiting Cornwall I pretty much always take a dip in the sea. There's plenty of choice from harbour swims, or sandy beach dips, rock pools and rivers the Lizard has so much choice and the waters are dreamy.

Swimming in Porthleven - From Anchor cottage you can potter down to the beach and take a swim anytime. The best place to access the water is below blue buoy steps - where the lifeguard station is. Here offers a softer shelving entry to the water and a large section of sand. Take care and choose hours after high tide and low tide when currents are weaker.

Alternatively you can take a dip from the harbour, either accessing by the steps around the harbour or by the slope near the Ship Inn - this can be slippery so take care and never swim across the mouth of the harbour as boats use this channel. The Atlantic is very chilly, so take it easy and have a warm robe or clothing to change into afterwards - luckily Anchor cottage is close enough to nip home for a warming brew.

Praa Sands - is a lovely sandy beach, just 15 minutes drive from Porthleven. Safe to swim with kids there's  is plenty of parking and The Welloe cafe offers food and drink too.

Gwithian, Porthkidney and Hayle Estuary- these stunning beaches really have it all, huge stretches of golden sand, shallow waters and crystal clear. Just take care in the estuary when the tide is on the turn, there are lifeguards, and if you choose the Gwithian end, there are cafes too. This stretch feels warmer than Porthleven, and is definitely less rough so a great place for more tentative swimmers.

Kynance Cove - A really beautiful spot with granite stacks. Head here when the tide is more out than in, there is a NT car park and cafe, and the waters are just stunning.

Helford - This river swimming spot, is a little cove which you can access via a wooded walk from the Helford car park. After a lovely hike through the trees, stop off at one of the coves along the way and have a dip in clear waters, it is a real treat. Choose a high tide as the water recedes and there is a lot of seaweed on the shores, and always take care of marine traffic. On your return stop off at the Shipwright arms or Mackerel Cafe for a well earned  treat.


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A menu of experiences

Self-catering upgrades for a boutique stay

Choosing a self-catering stay now offers so many of the indulgent treats often associated with a boutique hotel. A holiday cottage offers more space, privacy, private garden and importantly no agendas.  If you are seeking a few indulgences, we have a host of upgrades and special touches which will make your self-catering stay extra special.

Explore more with guided experiences

Holidays are as much about experiences as the accommodation.

For this reason, we've curated a menu of experiences for guests to help them explore more.   From guided walks, to peddling lanes, paddling rivers to cold water swimming, trying your hand at clay shooting or foraging in the woods. There are plenty of experiences available to enjoy at our cottages.

The country side around Elsie's and the Lizard offer some amazing walking with amazing views,  miles of tracks to hike, and lanes to explore by bike and epic rivers, and seas to paddle, a stunning way to see nature.

  • Walk the Malvern Hills End to end - full day - picnic or cafe lunch, start from Elsie's cottage, finish at North Hill,  time 4-5 hrs. Distance 10 miles.
  • Peddle power with electric bikes. Ride quiet lanes through quaint villages, discover amazing Cliff top views and stop off for tea and cake along the way. Bike hire from The shipyard in Porthleven
  • Paddle sea or river - Take a tour in Kayak on the sea for a different view from the water or paddle board rivers and spot amazing wildlife choose from Out of Blue when staying at Anchor cottage or Paddleboarding Adventures when staying at Elsie's.
  • Clay shooting - have a  shot with a private coach to guide you to success. Pick up at Elsie's cottage,  drive to shooting ground. 10-20 shots,  Time 2.5 hrs. Contact Haydn Coley

Culinary delights

Food is one of life's pleasures, so tickling our taste buds with flavours and produce of the region can be a focal point for many of us on our holibobs.

There's no need to feel like you are missing out on great food on a self-catering holiday. Act Elsie's we offer a range of foodie options to make your stay a real treat.

We can offer not only hampers and grazing platters but also workshops to return home with a new culinary skill.

  • Pizza kit with sourdough balls, tomato sauce, cheese and veggie toppings.
  • Full English, cook up your bacon, sausages, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes inside or out over the BBQ, Or maybe indulge in artisan pastries for a touch of sweet indulgence.
  • Pub night in -  with an artisan burger kit. 8 oz Herefordshire beef burger, brioche bun, cheese, tomatoes, veg and sauces.
  • BBQ feast with locally produced lamb, sausage and burger.
  • Deli Platter - arrive to a platter of the best local cheeses, meats and goodies from the deli counter including scotch eggs, olives, dips and pickles.
  • Sourdough bread workshop with award winning artisan bakers - full or half day workshop at Peter Cooks Bread, learn the art of baking amazing sourdough and return home with your very own starter kit.

Find your new passion

Our everyday lives are full of routines and commitments, whilst holidays are time dedicated to doing things that time doesn't seem to allow for at home.

So why not try a new hobby or discover your creative streak. We have built our own little crafting box with kits for flower pressing, sketching, journalling and gardening.

There are binoculars and books to encourage you to star gaze and bird watch as well as plenty of nooks and crannies to watch or make without any of the distractions of home.

If you are looking for an experiential workshop we can help there too.

  • Choose from a menu of mindful crafting mono printing, slow stitching or circle weaving.  All delivered by your workshop leader at home at Elsie's cottage.
  • Pottery throw down - Make your way to Easton pottery just 5 mins drive to try your hand at the potters wheel. full day. Lunch included.

Spa at home

Many of us love a spa. Soaking in a tub, a good massage or facial and feeling utterly pampered.

Elsie's will help you relax as soon as you walk through the door. There's aromatic oils and the hot tub is warmed for your arrival soak. For that full spa experience we can arrange a massage at home, or a guided meditation session, yoga or a facial. You really will feel utterly pampered and rejuvenated after a spa stay with us.

  • In house massage - choose from full back, facial or neck and shoulder massage
  • Guided meditation - Your tutor will take you through a meditative process to help you wind down and repair.
  • Personal yoga session. Your teacher will deliver an hours yoga session designed for you at the cottage. either indoors or our on the terrace.
  • Goodies bag full of locally produced sustainable products to use and try during your stay.

Simple pleasures

As a final bonus, our cottage offers lots of little nooks, to curl up and enjoy a book or listen to music.

To help we'll provide a shelf of great reading, a bluetooth speaker to stream your favorite tunes. Binoculars to bird watch or star gaze.

More than anything though, Elsie's offers spaces to stop and unwind.  A hidden garden spot, or cosy corner with a snuggly sofa, a bubble bath to soak in or woods and hills to discover on your doorstep and enjoy to yourself.

Living in a different space gives us a flavour of a different life, which, when taken back home lasts on in our memory and may inspire us to new things.  Isn't that what holidays are all about?

Head for the Malvern Hills

The MALVERN HILLS are a string of peaks in Worcestershire. They are a perfect for walkers who love a view, and wooded tracks too. They inspired composers and writers famed for their Narnia gas lamps and fresh spring waters. Come explore and stay at Elsie's Cottage for the perfect spot to explore.

Heart of the country

Malvern Hills

Whilst the Malvern's might not be your go to place to find a holiday, it is perfectly placed in the heart of the country and has been our home for many years and has a few surprises for visitors. We know how much the area offers from our other bolthole in the area Upsticks glamping. From biking, hiking and canoeing are all favourites. The river Wye is famed for paddling down, and there is so much choice on road or off for bikes. We can even supply a couple of Mountain bikes to explore with.

Quaint little villages

Black and white architecture of the area gives rise to quaint towns and villages. A cluster of local inns and eateries provide for dining out both Worcestershire and Herefordshire sides of the hill. Ledbury known for its Indy shopping vibe has cafe's bistro's international cuisine and some lovely architecture. Malvern is a spa town with Victoriana, from old gas lights, grand villas and home to theatres, cafe's and food festivals. Upton site on the river Severn and offers a place to sup by the river. Further afield is


Whether you like exploring or just want to chill in utter seclusion, we know this place will get under your skin.

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