Cambridge Slow Swim and Picnic

Grantchester to Sheep’s Green
Saturday 5th July 2025
2.5km Social River Swim and Picnic (Wave 4 1.2km)
Entry £18.50 for the first 50 entries (under 16 £13.50)
The picnic’s FREE (bring your own picnic), bring cake to share!.

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The Cambridge Swim Picnic isn’t a race. It’s a social swim and a picnic at Sheep’s Green, in the historic city of Cambridge. The only difference is to get to the picnic you have to swim along the idyllic River Cam from the village of Grantchester 2.5km away.
The Cambridge Swim Picnic is part of the Slow Swimming campaign, aimed at encouraging swimmers to take their time and enjoy the opportunity to be out fully immersed in nature.

We campaign for clean rivers and lakes. Petitioning to have popular local areas designated as bathing quality. In the meantime, we test the water purity ourselves to ensure the safety of our events.

There are no timing chips or results sheets. Everyone who takes part is a winner equally.
We are very keen to get children used to, and enjoying, swimming outdoors. This will improve their safety in and around water and should encourage them to be lifelong outdoor swimmers. There isn’t an age restriction as such, but obviously we would be depending on your adequate supervision of anyone under 16. I would very much recommend that they wear a wettie, as children lose heat quicker than adults when in water, and unless they are very good swimmers a form of buoyancy aid.

To give everyone an enjoyable swim the event is split into waves. Each wave goes off over periods of time, so there is no start signal and mass start.

Wave one: Seriously Need More Cake (Known as Serious), open from 10:30am to 10:45am. Choose this wave if you would like to actually swim fast.
Wave two: Relaxed ’cause we know where the cake is hidden (Known as Relaxed). Steady pace – no rush. Open from 10:45am to 11:15am.
Wave three
: Enjoying the Journey (Known as Enjoying it). Sculling along, maybe with a bit of paddling, smiling and chatting. Open from 11:15 am to 11:30am
Wave four: Pooh Sticks. Shorter distance of 1.2km, but just as much to see. Basically it’s for people who would prefer something a bit shorter but want to really enjoy the scenery and float along using floaty things (nothing bigger than a lilo please) and stick out the occasional hand or foot to paddle. It could be as little as arm bands or a rubber ring. Open from 12.00pm to 12.15pm.
BUT – please make sure it’s both safe (won’t go down and drown you) and won’t damage the river or river banks. We are here to help look after the river!
Start times subject to change nearer the day.

The swim is along the idyllic River Cam from Grantchester to Sheep’s Green in Cambridge.
Registration is in the picnic field at Sheep’s Green.
The start of the standard swim distance is at the river directly adjacent to the Red Lion in Grantchester. Wave 4 (Pooh Sticks) starts at the Cambridge end of Grantchester Meadows.
We suggest that you park at the end of the course at Sheep’s Green or in one of the many car parks in Cambridge, drop off your picnic supplies at the marquee in the picnic field, register and stroll the 1.5 miles to the start along the river bank. This should take around 40 minutes.

This year we are proud to be raising much needed funds for the Cam Valley Forum

The Cam Valley Forum is a voluntary group  established in 2001. They work with their extensive network of partners to protect and improve the environment of the River Cam and its tributaries. They help identify, monitor and tackle problems affecting the river.

1. Click the ‘Sign Me Up button’ to go through to Entry Central
2. Fill in the details of each member of your group. Entry costs £20.00, (£15.00 under 16s), and which wave they would like to be in.
3. Decide whether you would like an event patch for your towel or robe. Cost £6
You can pay by any type of payment card using the checkout.

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Cam Swim Picnic Briefing notes.

You’ll find below some useful notes for the day.


Please try to car share, use public transport, cycle or walk to the registration point at Sheep’s Green if possible. If you want to arrange to car share click through to the event Facebook page here


If you are arriving by car there are a variety of places to park.

The Cambridge Park and Ride is at Trumpington. Buses run every 10 minutes from 8am. You should get off the bus at ‘Botanic Gardens’ stop, from where it is a short walk across the bridge. Just as you get across the bridge there is a gate on the left had side of the road that takes you down to the river on Sheep’s Green.


Trains run from London Kings Cross and Liverpool Street to Cambridge. Cambridge Station is a 15 minute bus ride or 5 minute cab journey to The Driftway, Lammas Land.


The first thing to do is to register yourself at the table in the small marquee on Sheep’s Green near the Cambridge Canoe Club building. You must have already entered the event on-line to be able to participate. There won’t be any new entries on the day.

Registration opens at 9.30am. It will take you around 30 to 40 minutes at a slow amble to walk the 2.5km to the start at the river bank below Grantchester, therefore you should register at the latest by Wave 1: 10.00am, Wave 2: 10:30am, Wave 3: 10:45am, Wave 4: 11.45pm. Registration closes at 12noon.

Walk to the start

Leave as much of your picnic stuff and after swim clothing, towels, robes etc., at the registration point as possible. There is limited space in the back-up vans to bring stuff back from the swim start. If you need to leave anything to be brought back from the start to Sheep’s Green please put it in a small bag and tie a label with your name on it to it. You will be able to collect your bag from the corral at Sheep’s Green.

Take just what you need for the walk and follow along the Cam the 2.5km to the swim start point. The first part of the walk takes you along the river, through the trees and then goes ‘inland’ for a bit as there isn’t a path along the river at this point, but then you can get back down to the river and follow it all rest of the way.

Encourage your supporters to come with you to the swim start, as they will be able to follow your progress as you swim back, encouraging you on the way and help to take your bits and pieces with them to back to the swim end point at Sheep’s Green.

Swim start

Each wave starts within a time interval, there’s no rush. Spread out your start so there’s plenty of space to swim in. If you are late for your wave, don’t panic – just join in with the next one. The waves are to spread people out.

If you are used to swimming outdoors you are welcome to swim in just a swimming-cosie. Most people will be using a wetsuit, either a purpose made swimming wetsuit or a surfers wettie.

(In answer to a message -)There is a history of unclothed swimming in the Cam and if this is your thing then – no problem, but please be sensitive to the feelings of others and be as modest as possible.

The Swim

The first 1.5km has a lovely footpath through Grantchester Meadows immediately on your left, beside the river. This is great for your supporters to follow your progress, but also for you to leave the river if you need to.

If you do leave the river, please walk back to Sheep’s Green and sign out of the river at the registration table.

There is then a short section of around 400m to 500m beside the nature reserve that there is no path so make sure you feel OK to complete this section before committing to it. There will be one of the marshals at this point to remind you that this is the beginning of the ‘un-pathed’ section.

As the path resumes there are a couple of tributaries coming into the river on your left, but for navigation purposes always choose the right hand channel. There will be kayakers with hi-viz vests on at the section just in case.

You will then pass under a footbridge, as you do look out to the left for the ladders out of the river by the Cambridge Canoe Club. This is the end of the swim. As you leave the river you will be applauded and surrounded by admirers.

One last bit of admin – sign out of the river at the registration table. We need to know that you have completed the swim so we don’t start looking for you in the river.

The Picnic.

First go and wash your hands and face. This is not just for general hygiene but also a wise precaution after having swum in an open river or lake as a guard against ‘Weil’s disease’

Weil’s disease

Cover any open wound with a waterproof plaster. Wash your hands and face after swimming and before eating. If you get flu or jaundice-like symptoms three to fourteen days after swimming ask your doctor for a Leptospirosis test. It is simply treated with antibiotics.

Now eat cake, drink pop and bask in the glory of your achievement.

Contact: Stuart Hamilton: 07957844512,   or via the Facebook group

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