Who owns Budworth Mere?
Following enquiries regarding water ownership at Marbury Park, near Northwich in Cheshire, we have obtained the information shown on the right from the Land Registry Office. The area shown in purple is part of the Marbury Country Park holding. Although we could not find any 'No Swimming' signs anywhere along the shore, it is not entirely clear what the legal situation regarding swimming is. However, the area marked in yellow, which starts at the brook, does not belong to the park. Three owners are named under the Land Title CH222876, one of which is Budworth Sailing Section (Properties) Limited, based in Cheadle. This suggests a connection with the sailing club which operates at the lake so it would be a good idea to keep out of the way of the boats. Please tell us of your experiences at the lake or the history of swimming there.
Ask anyone who grew up in Merseyside about bathing in the Mersey Estuary and they will tell you that the water is too polluted to swim in. Far from it - recent major operations to clean the river and the Irish sea have turned many miles of shore line into very attractive beaches. With a number of Lifeguard stations dotted along the coast, seemingly endless golden sandy beaches (or vast stretches of grass if you prefer), warm water and plenty of room for everybody even on a sunny August weekend - the estuary and the Wirral coast line are well worth a visit.
If you decide to visit the area please remember that estuaries can be very dangerous. Consult the Lifeguards as to where and when to swim and always stay well within your depth.
Carol Laidlaw from Liverpool wrote: The water between Freshfield and Southport is now well clean enough to swim in, it has met the bathing quality standards for the past few years in succession. The best swimming spot is at Ainsdale, the beach is a mile down the road from the train station, and there is a car park on the foreshore. There is a lifeguard on the beach during the summer months. I have been swimming in the sea here as late as the first week of October, the water is warm as it is relatively shallow. The problem with this is that you might have to wade as far out as 100 yards to get enough depth of water for actual swimming, especially at low tide.
River Ribble
Nat Grid Reference 675358 on OS sheet 103
Marles Wood - about a mile due north of Copster Green which is on the A59 about 5 miles due north of the centre of Blackburn. There is a car park. Access to the water is through several sandy beaches which can be found along a public footpath by the river. The river is fast flowing and can be very dangerous so please take extra care
Thanks to Garry Ferguson for helping with information.
Mawdesley Quarry, Nr. Parbold Lancashire
About 10 miles east of Southport Grid Ref SD500121
Popular with young people from as far afield as Liverpool. A shelving beach by a public footpath (right) is the safest entry point. The quarry is on a hill and not easy to find but well worth the effort
Hatchmere Lake
Nat Grid Reference SJ553722
Hatchmere Lake which is located near Delamere Forest in Cheshire has been used for leisure activities by thousands of people from all over the North West for generations. The Lake is particularly popular with families with young children who come to enjoy the water and picnic on a patch of grass verge. It was one of two traditional summer outing sites in the Frodsham area for many years. The popularity of the lake has declined in recent years not least following an unsuccessful attempt by the owners, who bought it with the aid of a National Lottery grant, to turn it into an exclusive fishing lake.
Swimming is from a sandy bay just by the Carriers Inn pub in Norley. There is a gentle slope ideal for children (who must be supervised at all times). Water temperature can be over 20C in July and August. The bay can be affected by algae scum during late summer but this is not necessarily blue-green or toxic. Take the Department of Health advice and avoid contact with the scum and the water close to it.
There is a car park across the road. You can also park on a strip of unclaimed land along the fence. See also Hatchmere website
Who owns Nunsmere Lake?

Nunsmere is a 60 acre lake situated on the A49 at Oakmere near Northwich. Most of the lake is owned by Nunsmere Hall - an exclusive hotel listed in the top 20 hotels in England - which uses it for water sports. Our enquiries revealed that the Southern shores of the lake have been used by the general public for bathing for many years. Despite fencing and warning signs this activity is still in evidence on hot summer days. Regrettably, in common with many similar sites, the attempt to ban would-be-swimmers from an attractive lake where there is a tradition of public access is now associated with vandalism, litter and other forms of anti-social behaviour. Keen to put an end to these activities the Hotel has been sending security personnel to remove trespassers. The Cheshire Police have also been involved on the odd occasion. However, in addition to policing the Hotel's part of the Lake, persons in its employment have been confronting people on land not owned by them. A request by us for information regarding any legal authority the Hotel has over the neighbouring parts of the lake failed, so far, to produce evidence that such authority exists. The map below shows land ownership at the southern end of the Lake. We hope it will serve to prevent future conflicts. The peninsula shown in the picture is within the area marked blue on the map. Please note that, although some land owners may be amenable to members of the public visiting their land, the quickest way of alienating them is to vandalise their property, leave litter, light fires and show disrespect to others - not least to the local residents.

  • Area marked green - care of the Forestry Commision
  • Area marked red - Nunsmere Hall Ltd
  • Area marked blue - C W Holroyd of Abbots Moss Hall
Hanmer Mere
Nat Grid Reference SJ454390
The mere is by Hanmer village, Shropshire, about 10 Kilometres west of Whitchurch on the A539 Whitchurch to Ruabon Road.
The road into the village led us to the Northern shore of the lake. On the advice of a local lady we parked the car there and walked along the Eastern shore of the lake using a public footpath which runs through a wood for several hundred yards. At the edge of the wood we found the sandy bay shown in the picture. Swimming was very pleasant. The water temperature, about a meter below the surface, was estimated at around 20C (68F) (August).
The bay has a firm, sandy bottom but there was some debris. Wearing footware is highly recommended. The slope is moderate and the water seemed very clean and fresh. There were no boats or fishermen and we did not notice any signs. There is plenty of wild fowl to keep one's company. In summary – a very pleasant swim indeed.
Winsford Flash
Nat Grid Reference SJ657660
The Flash is a shallow lake created by subsided land. It is part of the Weaver and a popular recreation lake in the area. The main recreational activities are sailing and fishing with the occasional swimming. We went into the water at the public boat launching ramp at the Northern end of the lake. This spot is convenient – it is right by where the A54 crosses the Weaver and adjacent to a large car park. With the exception of some deeper channels the water is fairly shallow throughout the Flash. We could often reach the bottom. The water is clouded by mud particles and in some stagnant spots uninviting. The bottom can be very muddy indeed.
Water temperature was pleasant (early summer) and is expected to be readily influenced by the weather. Weekend swims at this spot in summer are probably not advised due to heavy boat traffic.
River Weaver - the Sandy Cove at Frodsham
Nat Grid Reference SJ531783
This pleasant little cove, known locally as Sandy Bay or Sandy Cove, is quite literally a mini sandy beach, situated on the River Weaver in Frodsham, a couple of hundred yards down the public footpath from the water sports shop adjacent to Frodsham Bridge (opposite the Bridge Inn).
You do have to sometimes share the water with water-skiers, but they are generally considerate towards swimmers as long as you let them know you are there. A human head sticking up out of the water is not the most visible of objects. We have been told that this part of the river is classed as a tidal estuary, so you have the right to 'navigate'it, but if the speedboats are out, keeping to the cove itself or close to the river bank is safer and will usually help avoid any conflicts. The beach shelves fairly gradually for some distance then drops off, so children must be supervised. There may be sharp objects in the sand so wearing an old pair of trainers may be advisable. There is a cold water stream running into the river from the bay, but the main body of river water is much warmer. The current is normally slow and steady. The picture shows an upstream view from the cove. [Picture and reference from Pete Robert’s website]
The Nantwich Brine Bath
Wall Lane, Nantwich, Cheshire CW5 5LS Tel: 01270 610606
Nantwich Outdoor Brine Pool was first opened to the public in 1934. The pool measures 100 ft long by 50 ft wide, with a water depth from 3ft to 7ft 6in. It is probably the only inland Brine Pool left in the U.K. Brine is pumped into the pool from an underground source near to the pool. The pool water temperature is maintained at 22C (74F) and through solar gain is usually much warmer. Older regular customers like to reminisce on their school days when they claim it was only just above freezing point and they happily swam in it! The pool is only open between May and October (please call for exact dates). I swam in the pool. It is a wonderful experience.
Late news (July 2004): A £1.4m scheme to place a retractable roof over the pool had been agreed by borough council chiefs and placed in their spending programme More...
The Dee
In Cheshire
There are tidal and historic navigation rights all the way up to Farndon. This means that you can swim from any safe public access point along the banks. In practice this translates to public road /path, car park or common land. We know of three access points. One at the car park / boat ramp in Sandy Lane in Chester (left), the public car park at Eccleston (Nr A55 south of Chester Grid Ref SJ414622)(right) and at Farndon.
The river seems clean and the small beaches in Farndon and Eccleston are near car parks. However, it is obvious that the current, particularly at Farndon, can be strong and the slope is steep in places. We did not enter the water in Farndon or Eccleston so please seek local advice before going in.
The boat ramp at Sandy Lane, Chester is not far from the town centre and downstream from the boat club. It is adjacent to a large car park. There is a gentle, fairly firm, slope into the water but beware of debris. When we visited in early summer the water temperature was about 16-18C (estimated). The water is shallow in many places. The main problem was the boat traffic. This stretch of water is popular with rowers and canoeist – not to mention the tourist’s ‘cruiser’ - so lookout. The place is also popular with swans – the one shown in the picture was nesting and the cygnets were just hatching! She was not at all disturbed by us watching the show from a meter away.
Nat Grid Reference SJ685772 Nr Northwich
Pickmere must have been an absolute gem for water leisure activities in the old days. The facilities shown in the picture were all destroyed by commercial developers and bathing in the lake has virtually stopped following the erection of a large notice, by the parish council, forbidding all forms of entry into the water. Fortunately, large parts of the lake are common land. Although no rights of common are registered it is clear that there have been traditional public navigation rights which are, in fact, still exercised by boat owners. If the boats have navigation rights then swimmers probably have them too. The parish council, who have been challenged on this issue, have confirmation that they can not stop swimming in the lake. Swimming in Pickmere is in a class of its own. The water is beautifully clear and not particularly cold. Approach is straight forward – there is parking space nearby close to Mere Lane and a large clean grassed shore (picture). Entering the water is only from land owned by the parish council or a public footpath which runs along the shore (not through private farming land). The slope is moderate but beware of large stones under the surface and of debris. Look out for power boats and water skis who may come close to the shore. We have been informed that skiing is not allowed before 10am Monday,Tuesday,Wednesday, Friday.Saturday,Sunday. Skiings starts on a Good Friday and ends 16 Oct.
Would you like to tell others about your favourite swimming waters?
Please email us with a description and one or more photographs. Thanks.