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Burgh island devon

Tour Highlights

  • Swim around the spectacular art deco haven of Burgh Island

  • An excellent introduction into open water swimming

  • Explore the island’s unique ecosystem and the variety of marine life that shelters in the seaweed

  • Tick off one of Britain’s iconic swims

Join us as we take part in a wonderful open water swim around Burgh Island in Devon. Measuring one mile in circumference, this small tidal island is located approximately 800 metres off Bigbury-on-Sea and is an excellent introduction to open water swimming along Britain’s beautiful southwest coastline.

Burgh Island is an art deco heaven that was made famous as a much-loved holiday location of crime writer Agatha Christie, even featuring as the backdrop for her book Ten Little Indians. Famous British playwright, composer, director and actor Noël Coward is also one of the island’s notable past guests. The island is also famous for its water tractor that comes into use when the tide is in, saving visitors going to and from the island from getting their feet wet.

This swim is a real treat and there are plenty of places nearby for lunch after the swim. As the tide recedes wade across to the Pilchard Pub on Burgh Island for lunch. Or just 10 minutes drive away try the Oyster Shack at Bigbury, well known for its seafood. The Dolphin Inn at Kingston has really good food at great value and a lovely garden to sit in, to celebrate your great swim.


Who is this swim for?

Swimmers should have a basic understanding of open water swimming, be confident swimming in various sea conditions and be capable of completing an unassisted swim of around 2km prior to the start of the trip.


What's included

  • Fully guided swim around Burgh Island in Devon
  • Full safety support throughout the swim
  • Commemorative swim cap

What's not included

  • Travel to and from the start of the tour


Daily Itineraries

Please note that the below itinerary is an example of the swim that may take place during the course of your trip, however, actual swim distances will vary according to local weather and sea conditions. Your SwimTrek guides and local boat pilot will determine the most suitable swim locations each day and will communicate the plan with all guests as soon as possible.

Swim Schedule

The swim is tidal, with a distance of 1 mile and takes roughly 45 minutes. It is a swim to be enjoyed and savoured as we have the unique view of the offshore side of the island, with cormorants and sometimes a friendly local seal.

We meet 1 hour before we swim at the local car park. Once everyone has arrived we have a safety briefing seated at the Venus cafe in the lower car park. We’ll explain the planned route, what to look out for and the safety escort cover that will be with you for the duration of the swim. An acclimatisation swim will take place prior to swimming around the island.

After the swim and a quick change, there is time for a hot drink from the cafe and a talk about the open water adventure we have just completed. As a guide we usually finish the morning swim and talk at 12:30 – 13:00. If you are arranging to meet friends before or after the swim please be aware that phone reception at Bigbury and Burgh Island is poor.

Trip Schedule

Start Point: Lower Car Park at Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon TQ7 4AZ

Start Time: 09:00 ready to swim for 10:00

Trip Information

Equipment Checklist

In addition to your daily non-swimming clothes, we also recommend that you bring the following items:

Item Item
Swimming Costume (x2) Towel & Small Daypack
Swimming Googles* (x2) Waterproof Jacket
Sunhat and Sunglasses Sweater / Fleece
Waterproof Sun Cream Aqua Shoes

*Try to bring one clear lens and one tinted lens for different light conditions.

Please note that SwimTrek will supply swim hats and provide water and electrolyte drinks in shared water bottles on your safety boat. If you prefer to use your own drink bottle, please feel free to bring one along. If you would like to use a wetsuit, rash vest or fins during your swims, please ensure that you bring these with you.

Swimming Conditions

Swimming in the sea is a fantastic experience, however you should be aware that certain marine life such as sea lice, jellyfish, sea urchins and coral could be present during the swims. In all cases we will work on reducing your contact with these creatures, however if you suffer from anaphylaxis, please consult the office prior to booking.

Temperatures

Month Water Temperature* Air Temperature*
July 15-16°C / 59-60°F 22-24°C / 71-75°F
August 16-18°C / 60-64°F 23-25°C / 73-77°F

*Please note that these temperatures are indicative and should be used as a guide only.

Weather Caveat

For safety reasons, we rely on decent weather conditions when carrying out our swims. As a consequence, open water swimming holidays require a certain degree of on-trip flexibility which can result in changes to the planned itinerary. These changes often add a touch of uniqueness to your trip and will be communicated to you by your SwimTrek guides as quickly as possible.

Group Size and Boat Support

This trip has a maximum group size of 16. The group will be split into a maximum of three groups, based on speed, with each group being accompanied by their own safety support. 

Boat support on this trip includes one main boat and two paddle-boarders which will be piloted by your SwimTrek guides and a local support. Please note that this boat support is subject to change without notice and cannot be guaranteed.

Getting There

South Devon has excellent road, rail links which make the region easily accessible from all areas of the UK. The easiest option to the meeting point at Lower car park (TQ7 4AZ) is by car.

Whichever route you choose to take, we recommend confirming your travel arrangements as early as possible in order to avoid price rises and availability issues.

Travel by Car

Bigbury-on-Sea is easy to reach from the M5 and all points along the M4 corridor. From London and the South East, the A30/M3 offers an alternative scenic route to the outer borders of South Devon, coming into the area via Honiton.

Bigbury is situated near Plymouth and is only 20 miles from Dartmoor National Park. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the best routes available prior to your journey as the roads do get busy, especially during peak holiday times.

From the A379 between Modbury and Aveton Gifford, turn onto the B3392 to Bigbury. Pass through Bigbury village with its local shops and follow the road all the way to Bigbury-on-Sea where there is a large car park and a café nearby. A great planning tool for the journey is AA Route Planner.

Lower car park tends to fill early in the day during busy periods and you will be responsible for covering the cost of any parking charges. We recommend getting there early and paying for an all day parking ticket, which will cost £6.50 for the day, for more information please see the following link Car Park Information.

Travel by Train

The nearest train station to Bigbury-on-Sea is Plymouth Station. For all enquiries on train tickets and timetables please visit National Rail. Once you reach Plymouth, there are usually taxis available directly from the train station. The journey would take approximately 30 minutes and cost around £30 - £40 one-way.

Practical Information

Accommodation

For those wishing to extend their time in the region prior to or after their swim, there are a couple of great hotels and B&Bs in the area, we recommend looking at such sites as Booking.com and Air BnB.

Alternatively, the Burgh Island hotel is a wonderful option but can be expensive, located a stone throw away from your swim. For reservations, please visit Burgh Island.

Additional Activities

The coastline in this beautiful part of the country is just stunning, the morning swims can be easily combined with a weekend break away with family or friends and there is lots to do in the area, with many great surf locations where you can try your hand at surfing or stand up paddle-boarding.

There is also a surf school that runs from the same place as where we swim, so if you have family members watching this is always a popular option for partners and children spectating. Please see the the following link for all information on surf hire and prices Discovery Surf.

Please note, if you are arranging to meet friends before or after the swim please be aware that phone reception at Bigbury and Burgh Island is poor.

Coastal Walks

There are many lovely walks and villages with character to visit. Try Inner Hope and Hope Cover and take a walk along the coastal path to Bantham where the views are inspiring. For refreshments stop at The Sloop in Bantham (do check opening times) before you turn around to come back, or try a shorter walk to South Milton and the Beach House Cafe for the best cakes in town!

Extra Expenses

You should bring extra money with you to cover such items as travel, lunches, dinners, etc. The local currency in the U.K. is (£).

Passports and Visas

The U.K. is part of the European Union. Non-residents of U.K. require a full passport to enter the country, which should be valid for six months beyond the expected length of stay. Citizens of most countries, including all E.U. member states, U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand do not require a visa to enter U.K. Please note that visa regulations are subject to change and we advise that you check your own visa requirements prior to travel.

Health Information

For comprehensive health information for people travelling to the United Kingdom, including all recommended and required vaccinations, please visit Travel Health Pro. Please note that this information is subject to change and you should re-check this site regularly prior to your trip.

  • I would never have done that swim on my own. Thanks for enabling me to realise my goal of at least one open-water swim.

    Kathrine M, UK - 2017
  • An iconic swim round Burgh Island fulfilled a life long ambition. Very challenging conditions but the expert team provided the encouragement and assurance to complete a memorable minor epic!

    Richard Houghton , UK -2017
  • An amazing first experience of sea swimming in the most beautiful setting. Thank you!

    Emily S, UK - 2017
  • Wow, first UK sea swim done. Challenging conditions at Burgh Island. Great experience. Definitely be back for more.

    Henryk G, UK - 2017
  • An exhilarating and challenging swim that boosted my confidence and made me keen to join more trips

    Jane E, UK - 2017
  • Burgh Island was a great first SwimTrek trip for us, and there was a nice relaxed and friendly atmosphere throughout.

    Nik& Annie R. UK - 2016
  • A fantastic trip and a great introduction to open water. Our guide and the safety crew were brilliant. Thank you SwimTrek!

    Tanya. UK - 2016
  • Been there - swum round that - got the bobble hat!!

    Jane F. UK - 2016
  • A wonderful experience! A great bunch of fellow swimmers, excellent guide, beautiful scenery - a magical swim. Thank you!

    Carolyn E. UK - 2016
  • The experience exceeded expectations. I have made friends with like minded people who all share each other's success as though it was their own amazing already looking to book next trip!

    Jenny A. UK - 2016