Open water swimming is back in fashion big time in the UK.
Everyone has a train story, and most swimmers have a lido one. When you combine the two and take the train to one of the UK's incredible open air swimming pools, you have a mini adventure in one day. Which is why we want to thank Janet Wilkinson and Emma Pusill, outdoor pool experts and authors of the shimmering and stunning Lido Guide, published June 2019. The Lido Guide brings you a bundle of 120 of the UK's most beautiful lidos, and it has inspired us to write a blog featuring some of our favourites which are also accessible by train.
Gourock Pool, Renfrewshire, Scotland
A heated seawater pool on the east shore of the upper Firth of Clyde. If you like swimming in a wild seascape, this is one for you. There are also still diving boards here which are in use as long as the winds don’t pick up. Gourock is just 40 mins by train from Glasgow, and a great place to include on a west coast of Scotland adventure.
Hinksey Pool, Oxford
Keen wild swimmers may have already swum in Oxford’s Port or Chimney Meadows, but lesser known to many is Hinksey Pool, just 20 mins walk from Oxford station. It is an unusual figure-of-eight shape, with some lane swimming sections, traditional red and white poolside changing cubicles, and plenty of room for sunbathing. You might also want to combine this with Woodgreen Lido, just 2km from Banbury station, 17mins from Oxford. Cities need their blue spaces as much as they need their green ones.
Ilkley Lido, North Yorkshire
Just over 10 mins walk from Ilkley station, this vast pool, 46m in diameter, is a must if you are heading to the Yorkshire Dales. With its historic fountain in the middle of the pool, lawns to sprawl on and some swimming lanes too, it’s a hidden Yorkshire gem. You’ll be sure to get the finest Yorkshire tea in its lido cafe to warm up afterwards too.
Jesus Green Lido, Cambridge
As if walking through Cambridge isn’t enough beauty in one day, being able to cool down in an historic lido at the end of it is the icing on any swimmer’s cake. At 90m long it is the UK’s longest lido and, dating back to 1923, if these swimming lanes could talk they would have some serious stories to tell. Located near the River Cam, and 40 mins walk from Cambridge station, you could combine it with some wild swimming too.
Jubilee Pool, Penzance
Having been refurbished after storm damage in 2014, this Art Deco triangular sea pool is an architectural coup at one of the UK’s prettiest peripheral points in Penzance. From the lido’s terraces you can see across to St. Michael’s Mount and the bay.
Lazonby Pool, Penrith, Cumbria
Take the train, camp and swim. What’s not to like? With a campsite on the doorstep of this local favourite, and all just 10 mins walk from Lazonby and Kirkoswald station. With some great value fares on this route too, even from London. You could combine this with a visit to a small, community-run pool at Hunsonby, nearest station Langwathby, just 5 mins by train from Lazonby.
You can do a lido crawl spread over several days in London. Just book your train ticket and then plan a route between the likes of Charlton Lido in Greenwich, Brockwell Lido in Herne Hill, Hampton Pool in Middlesex, Oasis in central London’s Covent Garden, London Fields in Hackney, Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park, Tooting Bec Lido in Wandsworth, Pools on the Park in Richmond, the new swimming lake at Beckenham Park, and Parliament Hill Lido on Hampstead Heath (as well as the Heath’s own wild swimming ponds).
Northcroft Lido, Newbury, Berkshire
Little known compared with some other lido lovelies, this pool looks like any other leisure centre from the outside, then you step in through its doors to see a 72m glistening pool (only open in summer months) surrounded by trees and grassy sunbathing spots. Just 15 mins walk from Newbury station for some seasonal splashes.
Pells Pool, Lewes, East Sussex
One of the oldest in the country and one of the finest, with its spring-fed water, trees for shady, chilling out and all round timeless feel. It is also located in one of south-east England’s prettiest towns, Lewes, gateway to South Downs National Park. You can easily combine this visit with a sea swim at Brighton, Worthing or Eastbourne. From Brighton you might like to walk 7.5km along the coast to Saltdean Lido or take a bus from the station.
Ponty Lido, Wales
Known as the national (and only) lido of Wales, and just a few minutes walk from Pontypridd train station, it merits its status as a national treasure. A fine example of a rescued lido, Ponty has been redesigned with contemporary style, dividing one giant pool into three separate ones so that lane swimmers still have their space, while maintaining a respect for its architectural heritage. They also respect the local community big time, with an entrance fee of just £1. Do book in advance though.
Thames Lido, Reading
Formerly known as Kings Meadow and opened in 1902, this has been refurbished into a luxurious lido and spa experience. Its stunning architectural restoration earned its Grade II listed building status. Just 10 mins walk from Reading station, buy a package for a few hours to swim, spa and eat in their restaurant. More plush than some lidos, this is a treat day out for lido lovers. It is also heated all year round. They have a sister pool with a same swim chic feel at Lido Bristol.
Tinside and Mountwise Pools, Plymouth
Tinside is Plymouth’s iconic seafront pool and Mountwise is the lesser known locals’ favourite, a little more tucked away. So you have two good reasons to have a lido trip to Plymouth this summer. Tinside really is Plymouth’s pride and joy, a semi-circular sea pool jutting out from Plymouth Hoe into Plymouth Sound. Historic, heavenly and worth the train ticket alone.
Image credits top to bottom: Sea pool Plymouth iStock ©Lockiecurrie, Swimming lanes iStock ©Natalia Sterleva, Jubilee Pool Plymouth iStock ©Surfgathino Lido with lifeguard chair iStock ©henfaes, Pells Pool @Rob Read, The Pells Pool, ©ThamesLido, Tinside Pool Plymouth iStock ©Matt Stansfield
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