Scilly Swim Challenge

Isles of Scilly, UK


Open water swimming


Organised annual race


1-2 days depending on event


September (annually)

Difficulty rating


What is the Scilly Swim Challenge?

If you fancy taking on a UK-based adventure with a difference, this could be the event for you.


The Scilly Swim Challenge is an iconic open water swimming event set in the beautiful Isles of Scilly.


The emphasis is on the challenge rather than the race and the organisers have a real focus on the journey and ensuring that people complete the island to island swim.

One of the WildBase ambassadors, Gemma Hardy, took on the 2019 event and was absolutely blown away by the challenge, the location and the hospitality of the people who made it such a welcoming and memorable event. 


  • A showcase event in the British swimming calendar, this is island to island open water swimming at its finest.

  • You can’t beat the community feel and atmosphere of the event.

  • The Isle of Scilly are a stunning backdrop for this unique and challenging event.

  • Get close to nature. There are several seal colonies who live and feed around the islands.

What’s it all about?

This is an open water swimming event with varying distances and options available.

  • One Day Scilly Swim Challenge – the original and now iconic event: 15km over six swims all on one day in ‘balmy’ September.

  • Two Day Scilly Swim Challenge – a slightly more leisurely version of the one-day event also in ‘balmy’ September, spread across (yes you’ve guessed it) two days!

  • Spring Scilly Swim Challenge – the epic one-day journey, set with an extra element to the challenge of the crisp, colder sea of beautiful Spring (ideal for Channel swim preparation or cold water junkies).

  • Scilly 360 (July) – this is a competitive and testing circumnavigation of St Mary’s in four stages. The faster you swim the longer you have to recover each leg! Solo entries or teams of 2/3/4. The total swim distance is 15km.


Who can take part?

The event is open to all but this is a real challenge and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The organisers are focused on safety of the event but you should be a competent and confident swimmer with experience of open water ocean swimming.


The water can (and will likely) be coldish (12-14 degrees Celsius) and the sea conditions can be challenging and varied.


Swimmers are grouped into pods and there are kayaks and a safety boat for support.


Like with many of the events listed on WildBase, with the right preparation and training this is very achievable. There’s a great focus on support, safety and hospitality making this an event that shouldn’t be missed.  


A bit of history

The event started as a personal challenge between Dewi Winkle and Nick Lishman to see if would be possible to swim between and walk across the Isles of Scilly. This then evolved into an opportunity to show off the stunning Isles of Scilly with the inaugural challenge taking place in 2014. Since then, the challenge has grown and grown as open water enthusiasts and adventure seekers look to test themselves in the beautiful and challenging waters around the Isles of Scilly.


Find out more

Sign up for the event or read the official blog on the Scilly Swim Challenge website.

Let us know if you’ve taken on the Scilly Swim Challenge. What did you think? Would you do it again? What are your top tips?

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