Outdoor Swim Review: The White Loch – 2021 Update (Andrew)

AUGUST UPDATE – DON’T SWIM IN THE WHITE LOCH! Toxic blue/green algae has been identified in the loch and warning notices have been issued. Blue/green algae can make you very ill and can prove fatal for animals. DON’T SWIM IN THE WHITE LOCH! The water is due to be tested again in September and, until it is and the loch is confirmed to be clear of algae, don’t take a risk by swimming here.

I’ve covered the White Loch before and if you want know about parking then check out our guide here and if you want an updated version you can find it here and if you want to know what it’s going to be like in six months in winter then you can find that too.

So, this is a review to bring you up to date with what the White Loch is like in 2021 after a year of lockdown, a year of closed swimming pools and a boom in wild swimming.

Well, the answer is easy: it’s become one of the most popular lochs for swimming, paddle boarding and for taking a quick dip in the south side of Glasgow. I regularly pass it when I’m out cycling and I count 10 – 20 people there most mornings, days, evenings and nights (though I’m guessing with that last one as I haven’t checked that out as I can’t ride my bike in the dark!)

In one way, this is fantastic as it means that you will always have company if you want to go for a swim. However, popularity brings its own dangers.

First, the more people use the White Loch the harder it is for it remain ‘clean’. It’s important when swimming to always wash your wetsuit between swims and especially if you are changing locations. You don’t want to bring microbes from one loch to another. What is natural in one loch may be harmful to another so please wash between swims.

Second, not everyone welcomes wild swimmers. While the law may be on your side, and the right to roam includes a right to swim, that doesn’t mean you have a right to the loch greater than anyone else who might use it. There are farmers, there are fishermen – and above all there’s Scottish Water. Be mindful of where you park, how you get changed, what you bring to the loch and what you bring away – everything. And most of all remember that the right to roam/swim doesn’t include a right to have a barbecue, a right to litter or a right to, erm, relieve yourself.

The White Loch itself remains a great place to swim. It has a nice loop round the loch, it’s relatively sheltered and it’s very easy to get there from Glasgow. It remains one of my regular swim spots but, in order to keep it safe for everyone, do remember that you’re not the only one who swims/fishes/walks/farms there. And the easiest way to do that is to join the Southside Swimmers Group on Facebook to keep up to date with everything happening with the loch:

Check out the Southside Swimmer Group here

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