Last month’s mini heatwave might only have lasted a couple of days but it definitely had us reaching for our sunglasses and swimming costumes. While it might be a while before the temperatures start soaring again, we’ve been doing our research so we know exactly where to go next time we need to cool off. For a country with a climate like ours, there are a surprising number of outdoor swimming pools in the UK – here are our top picks:
Hampstead Heath pools
There’s nowhere quite like Hampstead Heath for a swim surrounded by nature. Visited by thousands of swimmers who want to avoid chlorine and wade amongst the wildlife, these outdoor swimming pools are internationally famous and so can get very busy on hot, summer days.
If you’re a bit shy stripping down in front of too many people, why not try the women’s or men’s pools – both of which are open all year round? The mixed outdoor swimming pool is great for a dip before a picnic with friends in the park’s luscious green spaces.
If you’re a newbie to outdoor swimming pools you might be put off by the sometimes murky water, but regular tests ensure it maintains its high quality and so there’s no reason not to dive straight in.
If you’re feeling peckish after your morning swim, there are plenty of cafes and restaurants near the Heath to enjoy a spot of brunch at. Head to La Crêperie de Hampstead for your fill of mouthwatering Nutella pancakes, or Polly’s Cafe for a club sandwich.
Saltdean Lido, Brighton
If you’re not a fan of the beach (no one likes sand in their shoes) head to Saltdean Lido, consistently voted one of the best outdoor swimming pools in the UK.
The lido was built in 1938 but the 40m heated pool recently underwent a seven-year restoration, re-opening just last year to more than 40,000 visitors. Local residents – who saved the lido when it was threatened with closure – are now encouraging visitors to donate towards the next phase of the project to restore the building back to its former glory with a café and events space.
If all those laps work up an appetite the lido usually hosts pop-up food bars, although picnics are also welcome. Alternatively, head to the Spanish Lady where for less than a tenner you can get a pub classic (think fish ‘n chips, gammon and eggs, and steaming bowls of mac ‘n cheese) with a pint.
Brockwell Lido, Herne Hill, London
South-east London doesn’t seem like the most idyllic location for a lido but one visit to Brockwell is sure to change your mind.
The 81 year-old art deco landmark still proves a big hit with locals from right across the capital whenever the sun begins to shine – thanks in part to the popular café/restaurant which offers all-day brunch across the weekend as well as a weekday menu.
The 50m outdoor swimming pool opens at 6.30am for those keen to get their workout in before work, while in the summer it’s also a buzzing venue for film screenings. This year’s offering includes Jaws, Dunkirk and The Shape of Water.
Bristol Lido, Clifton
For one of the more luxurious outdoor swimming pools in the UK, it’s worth heading to Bristol Lido.
The oldest heated outdoor pool in Bristol also includes a hot tub, sauna and steam room. It offers great ‘swim and eat’ and spa packages as well as regular swimming. Its popularity during the summer means that a first come, first served basis is often in operation for non-members so make sure you get there early if you decide to pay a visit.
The poolside tapas bar also means you don’t even need to change out of your robes to refuel and sample some of the delicious daily specials that are sure to tempt your taste buds. Alternatively, just pop down the road to The Victoria for a beer.
London Fields Lido, Hackney
It might be the most hipster of hangouts on our list but that certainly shouldn’t put you off. London Fields Lido reopened in 2006 after a successful campaign by locals and has been a firm favourite with Londoners ever since, even when the sun isn’t shining.
Lane swimming is available all day while other visitors flock to this outdoor swimming pool in winter evenings for a spectacular swim under the stars. The café also provides simple yet tasty food that doesn’t cost the earth.
Helmsley open air pool, North Yorkshire
The north may not be famed for its sunny climes but you can pretend you’re abroad (or at least down south) with a trip to Helmsley’s heated open-air pool.
Relax in the water surrounded by nature and great views of the countryside in Yorkshire’s only 25m heated outdoor swimming pool – which also hosts events including night swims during the season.
The pool offers fewer on site facilities than some of the others on our list but the quaint market town with its popular cafes and pubs more than makes up for it and is just another reason why it’s one of the best outdoor swimming pools in the UK.
Outdoor swimming pools across the UK – our top spots
The summer months are the perfect time to dive into one of the UK’s many outdoor swimming pools – but you don’t need to stop as soon as dark nights arrive. If you get the bug, why not visit the Outdoor Swimming Society website, a growing community which pinpoints the best swimming spots right across the country as well as offering tips on how to get started. Our list should certainly help you get going – but it doesn’t need to be the end of your journey!