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 is cold water swimming?
Cold water or winter swimming is usually classified as water temperatures in single figures; that’s most likely between November to April. Temperatures below 10oC can cause numbness and pain especially in the extremities. Neoprene gloves/socks/hat can reduce this – and ear plugs also help retain heat. Wind chill has a significant impact on cold-water tolerance, so it’s advisable to check the weather forecast each time before swimming.
How do I acclimatise to cold water?
Always check with your GP before swimming in cold water if you have any pre-existing medical conditions that might be affected by exposure to cold water. To acclimatise, it’s best to work with the natural cooling of open water across the autumn and winter, starting in September. Regular dipping will reduce cold shock response and build cold water tolerance. Cold-water tolerance is individual and can change day-to-day depending on your general wellbeing. Don’t be tempted to stay in the water for as long as others; know what’s comfortable for you and stick to it.
How should I enter cold water?
When entering cold water, it is important to do it gradually, remain calm and eliminate the gasp response. Never jump into cold water – and don’t swim alone. Ideally, pick a time when other regular winter swimmers will be there. Cold shock response occurs when entering cold water and is a natural, physiological response characterised by gasping, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and shivering; it lasts up to 2 minutes. Take time to get your breathing under control before swimming, to reduce the risk of taking on water.
How long should I swim in cold water?
When winter swimming without a wetsuit, a rule of thumb is 1 minute in the water per 1oC of water temperature, so for those new to winter swimming 2 or 3 minutes is more than enough. Only enter cold water if you can tread water and are a confident swimmer. To allow yourself to get in more gradually and stand up in depth, enter using the steps adjacent to the model boat lake, as opposed to those near the pump house. It’s helpful to reset what you’re doing to ‘winter dipping’ to eliminate the expectation of distance. Get out of the water if it’s not comfortable, especially if you feel light-headed or unwell – and always at the onset of shivering.
What should I do when I get out of cold water?
Get changed in a sheltered spot, ideally standing on something insulated to keep your feet off cold ground, layer up and put on a woolly hat, have a warm drink like hot chocolate or squash and warm up slowly. You continue to cool for 20 – 30 mins after exiting the water, it’s important to warm up immediately but gradually after cold-water exposure. Shivering once you’re out is a natural response, stimulating heat production and helping warm blood to circulate. Make sure you’re warm before driving and no longer shivering.
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.
How can I check what’s on at the lake before I visit?
It’s always a good idea to look at the lake calendar when planning a visit to see what else might be on at the lake – as well as to check for any overtopping tides. 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 before you come.
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
How do I make a donation?
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 or click here to donate on-line.
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.
Are people allowed to use barbecues at Clevedon Marine Lake?
Visitors are allowed to cook with portable barbecues beside the lake provided 1) the barbecue is raised off the concrete to avoid heat damage, 2) no debris or scraps from it enter the lake and 3) all litter is bagged up and disposed of responsibly afterwards, either in the bins on the upper promenade or taken home.
How can I volunteer to help MARLENS look after the lake?
Come rain or shine, there are weekly clean-ups every Saturday morning at 10am, supported by an enthusiastic band of helpers, keeping the lake surrounds looking fresh throughout the year. Clevedon Marine Lake is run for the people by the people and new volunteers are always welcome to help litter pick and clear seaweed and debris, especially after overtopping tides. Get in touch to find out more about this and other voluntary roles.
Where can I send photos I’ve taken of the lake?
Clevedon Marine Lake is so picturesque it’s almost impossible not to take a photo when you visit! If you’ve got a pic you’d like to share with the lake community, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post it in the Gallery.
Who maintains the flags around the lake?
The upper promenade above Clevedon Marine Lake is lined with a colourful array of national flags – as well as those of Marlens, the charity behind the lake, and Clevedon Marine Lake. The national flags are provided by North Somerset Council and maintained by Marlens.
Are remote controlled boats allowed at the lake?
Model boaters are welcome to launch craft in the small, model boating lake adjacent to the entry steps near the Salthouse pub. Full-sized, engine-powered craft are not permitted in Clevedon Marine Lake.
Can I hire equipment at the lake?
During the summer months, dependent on the weather, visitors can hire rowing boats or have a go at zorbing. If available for hire, these are located on the lower promenade toward the splash pool and arcade.
Who do I contact about lost property?
Lost property is collected by MARLENS volunteers, who work for the charity behind the lake. It is stored in the boathouse adjacent to HM Coastguard Rescue Station above the splash pool. If you have left an item and wish to find out if it’s been picked up, please leave a message here.