St Helens picnic site

Location details for St Helens picnic site, near Santon Downham in Thetford Forest

Two photos combined, swimmer snorkelling above, underwater plants below the surface
Snorkelling in the river and clear water with underwater foliage

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County Norfolk/Suffolk border
River Little Ouse
Swim location name St Helens picnic site
Grid reference TL829872
Nearest postcode IP27 0TT
Other info Drive down the lane just north of Santon Downham village and bridge over the river, to the picnic site and large parking area. Currently free and open at all times, though the Forestry Commission has been considering bringing in charges to park.

Very short walk down to the river. Sandy beaches for shallow entry, suitable for children and non-swimmers. Very popular in summer.

Be aware of wooden groynes/croyes at intervals – keep to centre to avoid – and of gravel bars (which could contain rocks) and deep pools.

Deeper pools next to shallow gravel bars, and deeper stretches at various points between Santon Downham bridge and All Saints Santon church, and further upstream. Long swims possible, and long stretches of footpath beside river. Also popular for canoeing and kayaking, motorised boats can only get up to just below Santon Downham bridge.

Water usually clear and clean, but can have a lot of weed in early summer, and level and flow vary.

My swim account Swimming at St Helens: freedom in the forest
Waterlog Reswum account Little Ouse at Santon Downham – a rainy Breckland swim
Wild swim map OSS wild swim map: little-ouse-at-santon-downham
Wild swimming map, including swim accounts wild swimming map: santon-little-ouse/
Visit Suffolk listing wild swimming in Suffolk

Please note: all swims are at our own risk. Including a location does not indicate that it is recommended or that it is safe; each must do their own risk assessment each time they swim or travel to a location. I accept no liability for the choices that people make. There is Swim Safety info on this website, and on Outdoor Swimming Society website, Survive section.
Please follow the Outdoor Swimmers Code, and Outdoor Swimming Society advice on responsible swimming at this time.

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