The best outdoor swimming spots in the UK

Thames Lido in Reading is thought to be the oldest surviving lido from the Edwardian Era. [Photo: Thames Lido]
Thames Lido in Reading is thought to be the oldest surviving lido from the Edwardian Era. [Photo: Thames Lido]

As human nature dictates, when the temperature rises above 25 degrees it’s imperative to flock to the nearest spit of water.

And for us Brits, the rarity of such an occasion means this week’s heatwave has lidos and open-air pools across the country packed to the brim.

There really is nothing like spending the day lounging in the sun with your nearest and dearest with the occasional dip in the pool.

So get up early, pack your towel, and get yourself down to one of these outdoor swimming spots, from a traditional 70s lido, to a pool overlooked by a 20-meter art installation and the pond that’s just for ladies…

Hampstead Heath Ladies’ Pond, London

Round up your girlfriends and head to Hampstead Heath ladies pond for a beautiful swimming spot surrounded by nature.

Denoting to its name, the pond is just for ladies but is part of a chain of ponds, including male and group ponds, which are situated on the eastern fringe of Hampstead Heath.

What the bank holiday is made for 🧜🏼‍♀️ @sophiep936 @amy.lineham

A post shared by Millie Moriarty (@milliemoriarty) on May 7, 2018 at 3:31am PDT

Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill, London

Nestled in the corner of Brockwell Park, this much-loved lido has been serving south London locals since 1937.

The 50m outdoor swimming pool is surrounded by lots of room for bathers and a poolside cafe for mid-morning snacks.

A word of working: get there early as its prone to filling up fast, and not just on weekends.

Mauritius-ish. 🏊🏽‍♂️😎🏊🏻‍♀️ #nofilter etc

A post shared by Edwina (@edwina_watson) on Jun 25, 2018 at 12:07pm PDT

London Fields Lido, Hackney, London

This Hackney-based lido boasts a 50m heated (25c) outdoor pool that’s open year-round.

Located in the north-west corner of London Fields Park, the lido attracts swarms of young people in summer who are passing through on their way to East London’s urban hotspots.

Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park, London

The Serpentine Lido is located on its namesake lake running through Hyde Park, close to the famous art gallery.

This year’s bathers are unique: they’ll will be able to get up close and personal with The Mastaba, a temporary 20-meter sculpture by artist duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude as a special project for the Serpentine Lake, which floats directly in the middle.

Get your culture fix while breast-stoking in the sun.

Pells Pool, Lewes, East Sussex

If you’re concerned by historical value, head to Pells Pool in East Sussex, the oldest documented freshwater outdoor public swimming pool in the UK.

Set the historical town of Lewes, the pool celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2011 and is still just as popular today as it was back then.

Head down with your friends or family to enjoy the tree-lined lawn, sun terrace, ice-cream from the cafe and 50m pool.

Ilkley Pool & Lido, West Yorkshire

This picturesque outdoor pool is only open from May to September, but it’s attractions make up for its brief opening time.

The outdoor pool sits among the stunning West Yorkshire countryside, lined by trees and poolside views of green, rolling hills.

Just lovely.


A post shared by Abigail Gaut (@abigailgaut) on Jun 27, 2018 at 12:25pm PDT

Clifton Lido, Bristol

Clifton Lido in Bristol is so much more than just a lido.

Tucked away within the residential Georgian streets of Clifton, the urban oasis is open all year round and offers a poolside cafe, restaurants and spa facilities.

Early birthday treat, thank you @jess_higham 🏊🏽‍♀️👙🌞

A post shared by Chloé (@chloedawnhusain) on Jun 27, 2018 at 8:44am PDT

Thames Lido, Reading

The Thames lido in Reading is believed to be the oldest surviving outdoor municipal pool from the Edwardian period, sitting just on the river Thames.

Having gone out of use in the 1970s, the pool was given a lifeline in 2014 when architects Marshall and Kendon (the same team behind Clifton Lido in Bristol) were given the task of restoring the site.

Four years and £3.5m later, the Thames Lido now boasts an outdoor poor, spa restaurant and bar.

It’s a must-see if you’re in the area.

Hathersage Outdoor Pool, Hope Valley

Ten miles from Sheffield, Hathersage’s outdoor swimming pool is a jewel or the community.

Welcoming swimmers all year round (yes, even in the snowiest winters), the pool boasts a poolside lawn for sunbathers, a glorious bandstand and stands guests to watch the many swimming competitions they host throughout the year.

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