AS the New Year is almost upon us, many people across Somerset will be hoping to be more active in 2024 - and what better way to do so than wild swimming?

If the prospect of throwing yourself into some freezing cold water does appeal to you, there are six designated bathing water areas in the county.

The Swimfo feature on the Environment Agency website shows results from EA assessments of the designated waters.

From May to September each year, weekly assessments measure current water quality, and at a number of sites daily pollution risk forecasts are issued.

Annual ratings classify each site as excellent, good, sufficient, or poor based on measurements taken over a period of up to four years.

Here are the six Somerset designated bathing waters ranked from best to worst.

1. Porlock Weir

Coming in at number one is Porlock Weir, near the village of Porlock, near Minehead.

The water quality at the pebble beach looking out onto the Bristol Channel was rated excellent in September 2023, continuing its good run of form from 2019.Somerset County Gazette: Porlock Weir is officially the best outdoor bathing spot in Somerset.Porlock Weir is officially the best outdoor bathing spot in Somerset. (Image: Exmoor NP/ Flickr)

2. Berrow North of Unity Farm

Second best in the water quality rankings is this spot in Berrow, which again overlooks the Bristol Channel.

It was rated 'good' at its most recent inspection in September 2023, but achieved 'excellent' in 2022, and 2019.Somerset County Gazette: Berrow beach.Berrow beach. (Image: Ken Grainger)

3. Minehead Terminus

This spot is described as 'a sand and shingle beach resort', spanning approximately 2.6 kilometres wide, and located close to the town of Minehead.

From 2019 to 2022 it was rated 'good' by the Environment Agency, but fell short in 2023, achieving only a 'sufficient' rating.

4. Blue Anchor West

This designated bathing area is located between Minehead and Watchet.

The Pill River enters the sea to the right of the Environment Agency monitoring point, and on the left, the Carhampton Stream also drains to the beach.

The spot has been rated 'sufficient' since 2019, achieving only one out of a possible three stars at each inspection.Somerset County Gazette: Blue Anchor beach.Blue Anchor beach. (Image: Nilfanion/Wikimedia Commons)

5. Dunster Beach

In second to last place, Dunster Beach's pebble resort had the second worst water quality of all the bathing areas in Somerset this year.

The September 2023 inspection revealed the water to be 'poor', with no improvement from last year's rating.

According to Surfers Against Sewage, a sewer overflow discharges directly into the sea in the middle of this beach.Somerset County Gazette: Dunster Beach.Dunster Beach. (Image: carolyngifford/Flickr)

6. Burnham Jetty North

Last on our list is Burnham Jetty North, which (unknown to some) is no longer designated as a bathing water area under the Bathing Water Regulations.

'Permanent advice against bathing' has been issued by the Environment Agency for the area.