the lake today

Marine Lake is an infinity lake and is said to be the largest of its kind in the world.


Swimming at the Lake

  • What do I need to know before swimming in Weston Marine Lake?
    As there is no lifeguard it is good to take a buddy, either swimming with you or watching from the side, in case of problems. The good news is, you can turn up to swim at any time but it’s always good to check what’s on first via the Lake Calendar. If there are sailing boats on the lake, they will be beginners and may not be fully in control of the boat. At these times, swimmers should keep to the beach end of the lake for their own safety. Individual members of the public are welcome to use the lake free of charge, but donations are gratefully received to help cover the running costs of the lake, which will be managed the Mudlarks. There are no changing facilities at the lake, so you have to leave your clothes on one of the stone benches or on the beach. We have plans to install a cold water shower. The Lake, at the deepest point, is about 15m. However, it is bowl shaped. Please see the WSM Marine Lake 2022 Water Depth Map which is also displayed at the Lake. Do NOT swim when the sea is overtopping the outer wall, which happens at the top of high spring tides of 12.6m or more. In rougher conditions, fresh seawater will spill into the lake below this height. We do not recommend people access the lake or the lower promenades during these times. Check tide times when planning your swim.
  • Is there anywhere to change?
    There are public toilets at Weston Marine Lake – these are next to the RNLI shop above the Lake (you need 20p). Most users of the Lake change on the ‘apron’ where the stone benches are.
  • Where else can we swim?
    There is a big community of people who swim in Weston Marine Lake throughout the year at times they find convenient. You’ll also find a regular gathering of sea swimmers at the main beach who swim half an hour before high tide year-round.
  • What is cold water swimming?
    Cold water or winter swimming is usually classified as water temperatures in single figures; that’s most likely between November to April. Temperatures below 10oC can cause numbness and pain especially in the extremities. Neoprene gloves/socks/hat can reduce this – and ear plugs also help retain heat. Wind chill has a significant impact on cold-water tolerance, so it’s advisable to check the weather forecast each time before swimming.
  • How do I acclimatise to cold water?
    Always check with your GP before swimming in cold water if you have any pre-existing medical conditions that might be affected by exposure to cold water. To acclimatise, it’s best to work with the natural cooling of open water across the autumn and winter, starting in September. Regular dipping will reduce cold shock response and build cold water tolerance. Cold-water tolerance is individual and can change day-to-day depending on your general wellbeing. Don’t be tempted to stay in the water for as long as others; know what’s comfortable for you and stick to it.
  • How should I enter cold water?
    When entering cold water, it is important to do it gradually, remain calm and eliminate the gasp response. Never jump into cold water – and don’t swim alone. Ideally, pick a time when other regular winter swimmers will be there. Cold shock response occurs when entering cold water and is a natural, physiological response characterised by gasping, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and shivering; it lasts up to 2 minutes. Take time to get your breathing under control before swimming, to reduce the risk of taking on water. At our Lake, use the metal steps on the northern side (wearing neoprene gloves helps against the cold metal).
  • How long should I swim in cold water?
    When winter swimming without a wetsuit, a rule of thumb is 1 minute in the water per 1oC of water temperature, so for those new to winter swimming 2 or 3 minutes is more than enough. Only enter cold water if you can tread water and are a confident swimmer. To allow yourself to get in more gradually and stand up in depth, enter using the metal steps as there is hard standing between the two (sets of steps) and it isn’t deep. It’s helpful to reset what you’re doing to ‘winter dipping’ to eliminate the expectation of distance. Get out of the water if it’s not comfortable, especially if you feel light-headed or unwell – and always at the onset of shivering.
  • What should I do when I get out of cold water?
    Get changed in a sheltered spot, ideally standing on something insulated to keep your feet off cold ground, dry quickly and layer up. Put on a woolly hat, have a warm drink like hot chocolate or tea and warm up slowly. You continue to cool for 20 – 30 mins after exiting the water, it’s important to warm up immediately but gradually after cold-water exposure. Shivering once you’re out is a natural response, stimulating heat production and helping warm blood to circulate. Make sure you’re warm before driving and no longer shivering.
  • What temperature is the water?
    Weston Marine Lake is filled by overtopping tides from the Bristol Channel. Guide temperatures for the sea water in the Bristol Channel can be accessed here. As a comparatively small body of water, the water temperature in Weston Marine Lake is more sensitive to air temperature changes, and ranges on average from 3°C to 19°C across the year, warming and cooling more quickly than the sea early and late season. Fundraising is taking place to install a similar temperature gauge to Clevedon’s Marine Lake.

What’s Happening?

  • What is happening at the Lake?
    Keep an eye on our news page and calendar for events. Over the year, the Lake will be closed periodically to drain and dredge so we can clean and clear out the silt. Litter-picking takes place most of the year round. 
  • What happened to the gates?
    The Lake’s two faulty sluice gates were removed when we prepped the Lake for the major dredging work. These have been fully replaced with new gates which allow North Somerset Council easily drain the lake for clearing the silt. The gates are opened regularly to help drain the Lake to clear the silt. There are also temporary sluice gates that can be removed and replaced by a digger.
  • What does the digger do?
    If you see the digger at work, it may be there to remove and replace the temporary sluice gates as needed. It also clears the edges of the Lake that the dredger can’t reach when there is a bigger clean up.
  • Why did the Lake require all the work to clear it?
    The Lake had become clogged up with an estimated 35,000 tonnes of silt, which had built up over 14 years.  Each time it overtops (more than 10.5m) another cm of silt comes back into the Lake. This means the Lake will be closed occasionally to open the gates and drain it.
  • Who is paying for this?
    North Somerset Council has is investing £300,000 to rejuvenate the beauty spot and make it a hub for watersports.  The recent success of the Levelling Up Fund application means that NSC have more money to spend on improving the Lake and surrounding areas. Keep an eye on our news page for more information. 
  • Why wasn’t this done earlier?
    Previous Councils have been less interested and we are fortunate that the present team have more focus on this problem, encouraged by the Mudlarks.
  • When will it be clear of silt?
    There will always be silt in the Lake as it is a sea Lake. We will be draining and clearing the Lake several times a year to prevent it from filling up again. The new sluice gates are opened and closed regularly to allow for drainage within the rhythm of the tides.
  • How deep is the lake?
    The Lake is bowl shaped. Around the edges it is very shallow and you should never dive or jump in from the edge. There are warning signs up which will be replaced soon. There is, for nervous swimmers, a useful shallower concrete ledge that runs between the two sets of metal steps. At it’s deepest point it is about 15 metres deep but it varies according to the tidal height. Occasionally the whole Lake will go underwater. If you look carefully at the sea walls along the lower walkway you will see the height markings. This is one of the reasons we don’t have rubbish bins on that walkway.
  • What is the bottom of the lake made from?
    Sand/shingle/bedrock.  There is a concrete shelf around much of the lake to allow paddling and easier access and exit from the water.
  • How clean is the water?
    Often the Lake is cleaner than the sea. As it overtops and settles, that is the water for the next two weeks. Pollution in the sea doesn’t then come into the Lake.  Fortunately, our causeway (the Lake wall) is low enough to mean that the water overtops in the Lake every two weeks, so it doesn’t go stagnant. When the water settles, it is clear. The colour is the sand colour! We have greenery growing in the Lake, and fish, eels and crabs. This is good news.  The Environment Agency will test the water during the bathing season (May to September), and we will post the results regularly on our pages here.  We are looking to fundraise to test the water all year. 
  • Why is the water brown?
    The colour is from the esturial landscape the river runs through on its way to the sea. The estuary’s funnel shape, its tidal range and the underlying geology of rock, gravel and sand, produce strong tidal streams and low transparency, giving the water a notably brown coloration. However, once the silt in the lake settles (post overtopping) the water does clear.
  • What about the summer season and closures?
    We will try and avoid closing the Lake over the summer season. 
  • When did the big clean happen?
    The big dredge of the Lake happened in 2022, where 30plus thousand tons of silt were put back into the Severn under licence from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) of Defra.  Further to the success of the Levelling Up Funding, Marine Lake will have a second dredge and a clear out soon. Dates TBC.
  • What’s the job of the Mudlarks volunteers and why are we fundraising?
    The core group of the Mudlarks have been raising awareness, support and gathering formal public opinion via online surveys to identify what needs to happen to make this an area we can all be proud of.  We manage the regular cleans of the lake. The core Mudlarks manage a lot of the social media, maintain the relationship with North Somerset Council and the questions from passers-by at the Lake itself. Alongside this, we have been arranging fundraisers and selling merchandise to help fund the following events/actions that have been achieved at the Lake or will be within the next year:
    1. Two metal frame steps installed around the edge for ease of access (done)
    2. A hoist for disabled swimmers (to be booked via the Mudlarks website) (bought, training to be undertaken)
    3. Re painting the edge of the Lake for visibility (will be when the ‘apron’ is repaired)
    4. Cold water shower and fresh water tap (installed at the Beach end)
    5. New signage at every entrance to the Lake (done and will be updated again)
    6. A webcam – aimed at the water – linked to our website (nearly there)
    7. All stone steps recut and edges painted
    8. All hand rails replaced (done)
    9. The whole apron and slipway repaired
    10. Install a water fountain (funding sourced, on its way)
    11. Install a defibrillator (on its way)
    12. Access to the Grotto for storage and power (done)
    13. Six RLSS Lifeguards trained (funding sourced, to be booked)
    14. Testing the water throughout the winter
    The Mudlarks have applied for the following within the Levelling Up Funding:
    • Improve the area, by repairing/rebuilding the lower apron, water access points and walkways;
    • Install more toilets; and
    • We plan to engage our community so that they become proud of the Lake, by building a History Path story, along the upper walkway.
  • How much cleaning will be needed each year?
    We are estimating that 1cm of silt returns to the Lake every overtopping tide. We will probably have to clean the lake out about three times a year. Using the hopefully new sluice gates this should make the job a lot easier than the present one.  The Mudlarks volunteers (over 2,000 of you) will be asked to specifically volunteer on the clean up days and we will hopefully be supplying the kit required (wheelbarrow, shovels, chest waders, tough gloves). Regular litter picking will also take place.
  • What changes will we see?
    North Somerset Council are planning to have the lake ‘plastic free’. This means no plastic should be purchased at any of the concessions as this is a serious source of rubbish and pollution.  The lake will also be glass free  – as this is both a danger and another source of pollution. The Lake has always been and will continue to be a dog free beach – the only one in Weston. This is a children’s playground, a theatre and a sports arena – not a dog park.
  • Will there be a charge to use the lake?
    No. There is no charge. We will be looking for donations from those that use the Lake in a formal context – swimming lessons, paddleboarding, kayaking etc.
  • How often does the lake overtop?
    Weston Marine Lake overtops approximately every 10 days at the top of high spring tides. During high spring tides of nearly 14m the outer seawall overtops and the whole of the Weston Marine Lake area and beach disappears under water, with the causeway vanishing from sight.
  • When did the lake open?
    The lake reopened early June 2022.
  • Where can I park?
    Parking for the lake is in the public pay and display car park at Melrose Car park – postcode BS23 2AW. There is some parking around the lake and some free parking in nearby streets but space is limited.
  • How can I volunteer to help Mudlarks look after the lake?
    Come rain or shine, there are weekly clean-ups every Thursday afternoon at 3.30pm, supported by an enthusiastic band of helpers, keeping the lake surrounds looking fresh throughout the year. Weston Marine Lake is run for the people by the people and new volunteers are always welcome to help litter pick and clear seaweed and debris, especially after overtopping tides.  Get in touch to find out more about this and other voluntary roles.  We can’t install bins on the lower apron as it spends half the month underwater. There is an informative bin blog on thee news page which answers those questions.
  • Where can I send photos I’ve taken of the lake?
    Weston Marine Lake is so picturesque it’s almost impossible not to take a photo when you visit! If you’ve got a pic you’d like to share with the lake community, please send it to our email and we’ll post it in the Gallery.
  • Who do I contact about lost property?
    Lost property is collected by Mudlarks volunteers. If you have left an item and wish to find out if it’s been picked up, please leave a message here.
  • How to donate
    The signs at the beach will have QR codes when redone, or there is a Paypal donation button on this site. Fundraising aims at the moment include an underwater thermometer which will link to this site, the ongoing costs of the webcam, the casing (heated housing unit) for the defibrillator and regular testing and servicing. We are also investigating replacing the old Victorian bins with seagull proof versions (the old bins will be reinstated elsewhere in town).