Dive in… outdoors! Are you tempted to celebrate summer with an open-air dip? Then try one of our top ten British lidos
- Cumbria punches above its weight for outdoor pools – it has five
- At Chagford pool in Devon, the water comes from the local river and is warmed
- Refurbed Gourock Pool in Scotland is a must-visit for fans of 1920s architecture
Few things beat an outdoor swim under a clear blue sky and, while the UK can’t guarantee sunshine, there’s no need to fly abroad for the perfect pool.
By the time schools break up there will be more than 125 outdoor pools to dive into (with many open all year).
Here are ten of the UK’s loveliest lidos to try this summer.
1. The Long Pool
Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge measures 90 metres long and 14 metres wide
Even Olympic pools look small compared to Jesus Green Lido in Cambridge. Built in 1923, it’s an incredible 90 metres long and 14 metres wide. It’s unheated, so only attracts crowds on super-hot days. When it’s quiet at all other times, it’s perfect for serious swimmers tackling the longest lanes in the country. better.org.uk
2. The Pool For Divers
Health-and-safety issues have seen diving boards disappear in recent years. But there are still three to try at Faversham pool in Kent – including a five-metre top board. The pool’s great for children, with a lazy river and lots of shallow areas. But serious swimmers can normally get in some lengths as most sessions have some 33-metre lanes roped off from the crowds. favershampools.com
3. The ‘Green’ Pool
At the Chagford pool in Devon, the water comes from the local river and is warmed by air-source heat pumps and solar panels. The 33-metre pool was dug by hand in 1933 and is surrounded by trees and fields. Volunteers add lovely extras like a second-hand book sale, and you can get tea and home-made cake at the poolside kiosk. chagfordpool.co.uk
4. Pool With A Campsite
Cumbria punches above its weight for outdoor pools – it has five. Lazonby Pool in Penrith is the one to pick if you want an old-fashioned holiday. It has a camping ground next door (campers share showers with swimmers) and a river runs by it to add to its rural charm. lazonbypool.co.uk
5. The Big City Pool
Popular: Charlton Lido near Greenwich is one that attracts swimmers whatever the weather
London has a large number of outdoor pools, many with big sun decks so they get crowded on hot days. Charlton Lido near Greenwich is one that attracts swimmers whatever the weather. It’s one of the country’s few Olympic-size pools. It’s heated and open all year. better.org.uk
6. The Rocky Pool
Head to Ilfracombe in Devon for something different: you get from the ticket desk to the pool by walking through a Victorian tunnel. When you arrive, the Tunnels Beaches pool is equally unique. Forget rectangular shapes in regulation blue. The tidal pool was hewn out of the rocks in 1823 and is rough underfoot. tunnelsbeaches.co.uk
7. The Architectural Pool
Gourock Pool in Scotland is heated and set so close to the Clyde that you can hear waves crash as you swim
The refurbished Gourock Pool in Renfrewshire, Scotland, is a must-visit for fans of 1920s architecture. The white walls and iron handrails mirror the sweeping curves of ocean liners from the golden age of travel. It’s heated, and set so close to the Clyde that you can hear waves crash as you swim. inverclydeleisure.com
8. The Last Welsh Pool
Wales has seen many lidos close in recent decades, so swimmers are keen to support Lido Ponty, the last remaining example in Pontypridd. Community groups have helped refurbish the heated pool and keep its period features intact. On hot days you have to book online to guarantee entry. lidoponty.co.uk
9. The Salty Pool
Saline tang: The salty, 40-metre heated pool at Droitwich Spa
Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire is a ‘brine town’, set on so much salt that its natural waters could rival those of the Dead Sea. The local water in the 40-metre lido is heated and diluted, so it won’t taste too salty when you dive in. wychavonleisure.co.uk
10. The Musical Pool
If there’s one thing beats swimming under a bright sun, it’s swimming under the stars, especially if a band is playing. That’s the promise at Hathersage pool in Derbyshire, where there are night-time swims with music from the Victorian bandstand. The heated pool is open all year. hathersageswimmingpool.co.uk
- The Lido Guide is published by Unbound at £14.99.