What do I need to know before swimming in Clevedon Marine Lake?
The good news is, you can turn up to swim at any time but it’s always good to check what’s on first via the Lake Calendar. If there are sailing boats on the lake, they will be beginners and may not be fully in control of the boat. At these times, swimmers should keep to the island end of the lake for their own safety.
Individual members of the public are welcome to use the lake free of charge, but donations are gratefully received to help cover the running costs of the lake, which is managed by MARLENS charity. Simply give a £1 each time you’re down, in one of the donation boxes lakeside.
There are no changing facilities at the lake, so you have to leave your clothes on the side. There is a coldwater shower on the community boat store on the upper promenade above the children’s splash pool.
Swimmers generally enter the water at the outer corner beyond the woods and swim along the sea wall where the water is deepest (over 2m at the Wains Hill end and round the island; shelving towards the splash pool). Lake entry is via one of the two sets of steps at the wooded end. The lake is deep along the outer wall but is shallow enough to stand up in over much of its area. In particular it is only 1m deep all around the edge, so it is dangerous to jump or dive in from the side. Before entering, please refer to the depth maps located around the lake perimeter.
Be aware there is no lifeguard so it’s good to take a buddy, either swimming with you or watching from the side, in case of problems. There are throwing rings located around the lake and on the upper promenade.
Water quality is tested by the Environment Agency at the beach adjacent to the lake (May-Sep); this water fills the lake on high tides – and is declared safe for bathing.
The lake is a semi-natural environment, so sharp objects like rocks and (sadly) bottles might be underfoot. Watch where you are walking, and once you enter the water, it is better to swim straight away, rather than wade – even better, wear footgear when paddling.
There are ‘No Diving’ signs positioned around Clevedon Marine Lake. This means no diving in Clevedon Marine Lake, because most of it is shallow, the water is murky and there may be obstructions on the lake bed.
Do NOT swim when the sea is overtopping the outer wall, which happens at the top of high spring tides of 12.6m or more. In rougher conditions, fresh seawater will spill into the lake below this height. We do not recommend people access the lake or the lower promenades during these times. Check tide times when planning your swim.
There is a big community of people who swim in Clevedon Marine Lake throughout the year at times they find convenient. You’ll also find a regular gathering of sea swimmers at the Pier Beach who swim at high tide year-round.
When is the lake open?
Clevedon Marine Lake is a community space run by the people for the people, and maintained by MARLENS charity. The lake is open access, open to all, year round. As Clevedon Marine Lake is a sea pool, lake users should be aware of the tides. During high spring tides of 12.6m or more, the outer seawall overtops and the water in the lake refreshes. In rougher conditions, fresh seawater will spill into the lake below this height. We do not recommend people access the lake or the lower promenades during these times. On rare occasions the lake is hired for exclusive use by an organisation or event or may be drained to carry out essential maintenance work. We always suggest checking the EVENTS programme for the latest information on lake usage to avoid disappointment.
Is there a lifeguard on duty?
There are no life guards at Clevedon Marine Lake, so each user is responsible for his or her own safety. We welcome swimmers, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, sailing dinghies and model boats – and ask that all users make themselves visible and consider others. Full size powered craft are not permitted, and large inflatables are not recommended. As two-thirds of the lake is under 5ft deep and visibility poor through the often silty estuary water in the lake, no diving is permitted at Clevedon Marine Lake.
What temperature is the water?
Clevedon Marine Lake is filled by overtopping tides from the Bristol Channel. Guide temperatures for the sea water in the Bristol Channel can be accessed here. As a comparatively small body of water, the water temperature in Clevedon Marine Lake is more sensitive to air temperature changes, and ranges on average from 3°C to 19°C across the year, warming and cooling more quickly than the sea early and late season.
Does it cost to get in?
There is no charge for the public to use Clevedon Marine Lake. However, to help us help the lake, MARLENS, local charity and custodian of Clevedon Marine Lake, kindly requests that visitors ‘give £1 each time you’re down’ using the donation boxes located lakeside. Qualified coaches are asked to register with MARLENS prior to undertaking any commercial sessions at Clevedon Marine Lake as fees apply. Clubs and schools are welcome to use the lake, with membership available for groups to use their own or hired equipment. Member clubs and registered courses have access to facilities in the community boat store. All lake hire and coaching enquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org and membership enquiries to email@example.com
Where can I park?
Parking for the lake is in the public pay and display car park at Salthouse Fields – postcode BS21 7TR should get you in the vicinity. Alternatively, there is free parking along the roads around Salthouse Fields – Old Church Road and Elton Road – but spaces are limited. Don’t be tempted to park in The Salthouse pub car park. It’s reserved for customers and is pay and display with automatic number plate recognition.
How often does the lake overtop?
Clevedon Marine Lake overtops approximately every two weeks at the top of high spring tides. During high spring tides of 12.6m or more, the outer seawall overtops and the water in the lake refreshes. In rougher conditions, fresh seawater will spill into the lake below this height. We do not recommend people access the lake or the lower promenades during these times.
Spring tides have the greatest tidal range and occur during the full moon and the new moon phases, twice each lunar month all year long without regard to the season.
Is there anywhere to change?
There are no public toilets or changing facilities at Clevedon Marine Lake. The closest public toilets are behind the Café/Arcade at the East end of the lake (you need 20p), but like on any beach, most visitors are happy with the al fresco arrangement.
Are dogs allowed at Clevedon Marine Lake?
Dogs are not allowed at Clevedon Marine Lake to reduce the risk of unfriendly bacteria draining into the lake. People swim every day at Clevedon Marine Lake, and a single gram of dog waste can contain millions of faecal coliform bacteria, known to cause cramps, diarrhoea, intestinal illness, and serious kidney disorders in humans. No dogs means good clean fun for everyone. For this reason there is a No Dogs order in place at the lake and on the spot fines are issued. Dogs are welcome along the upper promenade, Poet’s Walk and on the beach in front of the arcade and Salthouse Fields, when accompanied by responsible dog owners who bag it and bin it.