Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s nature reserves are important refuges in a landscape that is increasingly fragmented and uninhabitable for wildlife. The rivers and lakes on our nature reserves are home to unique and well-loved wildlife such as otters, kingfishers, water voles, salmon, trout and ancient willow trees. Because of the value of our sites to nature, we ask that people wanting to wild swim find and seek permission at other locations to do this.
Swimming in our nature reserves disturbs threatened wildlife, forcing them to feed and rest elsewhere. Entering and leaving the water damages riverbanks and tree roots, destroying nesting sites for already threatened species like water voles and fish spawning sites. These wild spaces are not managed with the safety of swimmers in mind, so there is a risk of injury or illness when swimming on our sites.
We understand the benefits people get from outdoor activities including swimming, but our nature reserves are not suitable and are being damaged and the wildlife in them is suffering. Our nature reserves must remain a safe haven for wildlife and a peaceful place for visitors, therefore swimming is not permitted.
We fully support local organisations that wish to create responsible river bathing areas where swimming can take place and that can be managed for this purpose. As a wildlife charity this is outside our remit and beyond our already stretched resources to do this.