Jun 142024

Wick KW1 5TN 

Rocky bay coastline with light green shallow waters in the foreground and grey clouds in the distance.
The Trinkie ©Freya Bromley

If you’re interested to extend your tour of tidal pools, you can take a day trip North to Wick to visit North Baths and The Trinkie. ‘Trinkie’ is the Scottish word for trench, as it was created from a quarry over 70 years ago. This pool is much loved by the community who come together once a year to paint it.   

Jun 142024

E Scores, St Andrews KY16 9BE 

Tidal pool set against the back of a stone castle and wall with a green, grassy sloping hill; blue ocean in the foreground and background.
Castle Sands ©Wikipedia

In St Andrews you’ll find a tidal pool on Castle Sands beach. Castle Pool is surrounded by rocky formations which make this an atmospheric swim. The ruins on this beach were once a castle famous for its bottle dungeon, a pit below one tower which was dug 22-feet deep. The pool is hemmed by black jagged stones that point towards the shore like witch’s fingers, which is perhaps an omen for nearby history.

Looking outwards to the ocean, tidal pool with a rocky shore and low clouds above.
Castle Pool ©Freya Bromley
Looking toward the stone castle, clear tidal pool is in the foreground.
Castle Sands ©Nikki Mahadevan

A short walk away you’ll find an aquarium that was once Step Rock tidal pool, also known as Witch Lake. Folklore says that women accused of witchcraft were trialled by water there in the 16th and 17th centuries. While wild swimming in Scotland you will likely meet more women than men, so it’s well worth noting the transformation of water’s role from harming to healing women in Scotland. 

Black and white image of swimmers on a raft and in the tidal pool.
Step Rock Tidal Pool ©St Andrews Preservation Trust
Jun 142024

Play Park, E End, Cellardyke, Anstruther KY10 3AW 

Still, reflective tidal pool with rocky shore and buildings in the background.
Cellardyke Tidal Pool ©Alison Mary Ashton

Cellardyke is a rectangular tidal pool sheltered from rough seas where the water is replenished each high tide. This coastal jewel is known as The Bathie or The Cardinal Steps Bathing Pool. In its 1930s heyday, it had a slide and diving board. For a long time only an old metal ladder remained but new steps have recently been installed, a sign of the rebirth of outdoor swimming as a local pursuit. It’s the little touches that make it so special here, including rainbow-coloured towel hooks hammered into the stone wall.

Tidal pool at sunset with the ocean and low clouds in the background.
Cellardyke at Sunset ©Wild Swimming – Scotland

This place is full of stories of people being taught how to swim by their grandparents. You might notice multiple generations continuing the tradition on your visit, a heartwarming reminder that learning sea swimming as a life skill should be open to all. Swimming here is a communion with nature as you get the benefits of saltwater swimming without the risk of dangerous currents. It’s an immersive swim where you’ll encounter all the delights of the sea, including velvety seaweed and even hermit crabs in spring.

Black and white postcard with four images of the tidal pool and an oval image of a diver set in the center; decorative banner reading: Bathing Pool Cellardyke.
Postcard of Cellardyke ©cellardyketidalpool.com

Although the pool is sheltered, the strong sea means the walls are gradually being battered by storms and the community must work hard to maintain the coastal defences. Locals meet regularly for lengths or a quick dip which Scots call a ‘dook’. If you need warming up, you’re near the family-run Anstruther Fish Bar where it’s rumoured only four fryers know the secret batter recipe that’s been passed down for generations.


Jun 142024

8 W Braes, Pittenweem, Anstruther KY10 2PT 

Pittenweem Tidal Pool ©Welcome to Fife

Just a five-minute drive from St Monans you’ll find Pittenweem, a picturesque fishing village in the East Neuk of Fife. East Neuk is the Scots work for ‘Corner’ or ‘Nook,’ and this part of Scotland’s coastline is full of nooks and crannies. A tidal pool is nestled along one rocky shore. It’s designed in an amphitheatre style with steps built into the surrounding rocks, making it perfect for families looking out for children in the water. At the cliff-top entrance to the tidal pool you’ll find a hut where you can buy tea and cake, as well as an information board with recent wildlife sightings. It’s common to see seals, seabirds and even dolphins from this spot on the coast!

Pittenweem Tidal Pool ©Allan McBain

The pool was restored as part of the West Braes project which fixed a breach in the wall and replaced a broken valve. It’s this continued community action that keeps it clean and accessible. The Pittenweem team have been particularly ingenious with their fundraising efforts and created a mini golf course to help raise money. During your visit, collect a club and ball for a few pounds which goes to the upkeep of this local sanctuary. 


Jun 142024

Fife Coastal Path, St Monans, Anstruther KY10 2DN 

Rocky coastline with green grass and a stone windmill on the right side, and blue waters on the left; brilliant blue sky with clouds in the background.
St Monans Tidal Pool ©Abbeyford Leisure

This clay-coloured pool is a spectacular setting for watching the sunset with the windmill reflected in the water. This East Neuk windmill dates back to the 18th century. Then, it was used to pump seawater into the nearby salt pans where water was evaporated to leave behind salt. This stone tower mill stands strong in the landscape as a symbol of the village’s industrious past. It’s a real testament to the ingenuity of the people who lived and worked here. Scotland’s largest exports at that time were wool, fish, and salt, and you’ll see archaeological remains of this history as you explore. A short walk from the windmill leads to the remains of the salt pans themselves. Beachcomb here for fuel slag, winkle shells, and shards of old pottery from the former St Monans salt works. 

Tan stone windmill set against a blue sky.
St Monans Windmill ©Visit Scotland

The tidal pool itself was created around the 1930s. Built into the rocky coastline, the design is a harmonious balance between man-made and natural elements, and it’s this rugged charm that the community appreciates and have fought to preserve throughout changes in recreational trends. From here, you can access the Fife Coastal Path for a walk with stunning panoramic views of Firth of Forth.   

Black and white photo of pool with people swimming; rocky coastline and row buildings in the background.
St Monans Bathing Pool ©Peter Marr


Jun 142024

92 Lower Granton Rd, Edinburgh EH5 1ER 

Coastline with people wading in at low tide; rock walkway in the foreground and buildings against a blue sky in the background.
Wardie Bay ©Visit Scotland

Arrive at Wardie Bay via a scenic walk, taking in the sights and sounds of the coastal path. The sheltered positioning of this beach is because it was manmade, probably not long after the construction of nearby Granton Harbour. This area is rich in wildlife, so look out for seabirds including gulls, guillemots, and oystercatchers. There are even occasional sightings of seals on the rocks here!

Photo taken from behind, ladies in swimsuits, caps, and gloves wading into a blue-grey ocean with clouds above and an island in the distance.
Wardie Bay Wild Ones ©Simon Williams

Wardie Bay has been recognised for its outstanding nature and in 2023 it was designated as Scottish Bathing Water, meaning samples will regularly be taken to monitor the water quality. Locals play their part in protecting and improving the quality of the water here too as it’s become an increasingly popular swimming spot with its own community group, Wardie Bay Wild Ones, who meet throughout the year. With a gentle slope into the water, this beach is perfect for easing yourself into winter swimming.  


Jun 142024

1 Promenade, Portobello, Edinburgh EH15 2DX 

Wooden walkway stretching from tan beach into blue ocean; blue cloudy sky in the background.
Portobello Beach ©Callum Deas

Similar to North Berwick, Portobello once had an open-air lido. Opened in 1936, the distinctive Art Deco bathing pool was the largest of its kind in Europe and had Scotland’s first ever wave machine. In its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s, thousands of swimmers would meet to swim, use the diving boards, and watch from the spectator stands. A young Sean Connery was once a pool lifeguard! During the Second World War, the pool was closed and camouflaged to stop it being used as a landmark by enemy planes. British coastal towns were declining in popularity as tourist destinations so—just like North Berwick—the pool closed in 1979 and was demolished in 1988.

Black and white photo of pool with people swimming; white buildings in the background.
Portobello Outdoor Pool ©Lost Edinburgh
Sepia photo of young man climbing out of open air pool using the ladder; people swimming, buildings, and trees in the background.
Sean Connery as a lifeguard ©SwimCore

The lido no longer remains but you can pay tribute to Portobello’s history as a place for making a splash by swimming indoors at the leisure centre or outdoors on Portobello beach. If you’d like to learn more about the local history or be inspired by watery nature writing, visit nearby Portobello Books before your dip. 

Open air pool with people swimming; high dive platforms and bleachers in the background.
Portobello Outdoor Pool circa 1971 ©Edinburgh Libraries
Jun 142024

Milsey Bay Beach, Melbourne Rd, North Berwick EH39 4LB 

Tan sand, blue bay, light blue sky with clouds in the distance.
North Berwick Tidal Pool ©Ian Capper

When you stand in North Berwick, there’s coastal history to be seen all around you. If you look out to sea, Bass Rock is visible in the distance. It’s home to a large colony of gannets and often appears nearly white from the sheer plumage of birds! Fidra island is also viewable which is rumoured to have been Robert Louis Stevenson’s inspiration for Treasure Island.  

Large rock surrounded by ocean and set against sunset in the sky.
Bass Rock ©Visit Scotland

Just below the Scottish Seabird Centre you’ll see a small harbour. The dingy park here was once an outdoor swimming pool. From 1900, swimming galas would draw big crowds and over the years the pool was improved with diving boards, changing rooms and even heated water. As holidays abroad became more affordable, North Berwick’s popularity as a tourist destination declined. The pool fell into disuse as the closure of the power station in 1978 removed what little heat there was for the water, and it eventually closed in 1995.  

Old-time photo of a pool with people swimming.
North Berwick Outdoor Pool ©East Lothian Council Museums Services 
Modern photo of pool with people swimming, coastline in the background.
Postcard of North Berwick Outdoor Pool ©Memories of North Berwick Outdoor Pool

North Berwick still has a swimming spot though. If you’re at Milsey Bay for low tide, you’ll see a low sturdy wall revealed on the shore. This boundaried tidal pool fills at high tide and ensures a regular supply of fresh seawater. It was built in the 1930s to provide a shallow swimming area for children to paddle and play safely. Plan your visit around the tide, but if you have to wait, there’s plenty to do. Boat trips, ice cream or hike North Berwick Law where you’ll get an even better view of these cherished landmarks from the summit!