10 of the best lidos: outdoor pools for the brave this summer

10 of the best lidos: outdoor pools for the brave this summer

Lymington Sea Water Baths

Nr Southampton, Hampshire

The picturesque seawater pools at Lymington date back to the early 19th Century, boasting views over the Solent to the Isle of Wight. It’s one of the oldest open-air pools in the UK, and in the early days “a male guide kept bathers afloat with the use of a rope”! Open 7.30-9.30am and 2-6pm weekdays, and 10am-6pm at weekends. Call 01590 678 882 or visit www.lymingtonseawaterbaths.org.uk

The Rock Pool

Newcastle, Co Down

The Rock Pool opened more than 80 years ago, and many enjoyed a leisurely seawater swim, with the Irish Sea in view. These days the pool has gone from strength to strength, and has been used to help train almost double the number of lifeguards than any other pool in the area – you’re in safe hands! Call 0284 372 5034 or visit www.therockpool.co.uk

Pells Pool

Lewes, East Sussex

This year Pells is trialling early morning swims on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 7-9am, so get your cossies on and show everyone what you’re made of! They’re also running a Lido Challenge for Macmillan Cancer Support on September 20, where your training can be put to good use. Open 12-7pm daily; 10am-7pm at weekends. Call 01273 472334 or visit www.pellspool.org.uk

Ilkley Lido

Ilkley, West Yorks

Sunny days are best spent lazing by this unheated freshwater pool close to the Wharfe (there’s an indoor pool, too, if the sky suddenly turns grey!). The grassy sunbathing and picnic area is ideally situated next to the cricket club, and there’s plenty of woodland nearby too. Open 12-7.30pm weekdays, 10.30am-5.30pm weekends. Call 01943 600453 or visit www.bradford.gov.uk and www.ilkleylido.co.uk

Nantwich Outdoor Brine Pool

Nr Crewe, Cheshire

One of the last few inland brine pools in the country, the pool exists thanks to a nearby ‘salt pit’, or brine spring. It was a popular spot for soldiers recovering after the First World War, and some of the older swimmers even remember school days there when the water was usually close to freezing! Happily it is now maintained at a balmy 22°C/74°F. Open 11am-7pm weekdays, 9.30am-5pm Sat, and 10am-5pm Sun. Call 01270 685590 or visit www.everybody.org.uk/centres/nsp

Stonehaven Pool

Queen Elizabeth park, Nr Aberdeen

Dug in the Thirties, this Olympic size attraction might be awash with seawater, but it’s fully heated and popular with locals and tourists. On Wednesday nights in peak season you can also take a ‘midnightswim’ from 10pm until midnight! Open Mon, Weds, Thurs 10am-7.30pm, Tues and Fri 6.30am-7.30pm and 10am-6pm at weekends. Tickets required for Midnight Swims. Call 01569 762134 or visit www.stonehavenopenairpool.co.uk

Jesus Green Swimming Pool


There aren’t many lidos left that were built in the Twenties. Thankfully, the pool at Jesus Green has been open since 1923 – and as well as the separate showering and changing facilities, there’s still a traditional ‘basket room’ for your clothes! Open Mon, Tues and Fri 7.30am-7.30pm, Weds and Thurs 12-7.30pm, and 11am-7.30pm weekends. Call 01223 302579 or visit www.cambridge.gov.uk/jesus-green-outdoor-pool

Gourock Outdoor Pool

Nr Port Glasgow, Renfrewshire

The oldest saltwater lido in Scotland has been open since 1909. Nowadays it heats water from the River Clyde, before it escapes into the Firth of Clyde. Recently refurbished, the patio views of the estuary are beautiful. Open Mon 7.30am-7pm, Tues and Thurs 9am-8pm, Weds and Fri 7.30am-7pm and 10am-4.30pm at weekends. Call 01475 715670, www.inverclydeleisure.com

Sandford Parks Lido

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

For Sandford’s opening day this season, staff dressed up in traditional ‘navy whites’ and the entrance fee was the 1935 price of 2p (roughly sixpence). Sounds like our sort of place! The lido also welcomes personal memories and documents relating to its history – please contact them directly if you can help. Open Mon, Weds, Fri 6.30am-7.30pm, Tues 9.30am-7.30pm, Sat 11am-7.30pm, and Sun 8am-7.30pm. Call 01242 524430 or visit www.sandfordparkslido.org.uk

Chagford Pool

Dartmoor National Park, Devon

Locals dug this freshwater lido in the Thirties, filling it with water from the nearby River Teign. It’s the perfect place to cool off after a pleasant moors’ walk. The water is warmed by solar covers in the mornings, but hardy
swimmers might like to try a Dawn Dip, from 8am on Mondays! Open 2-6pm daily. Over 50s only, 1-2pm Friday. Call 01647 432929 or visit www.chagfordpool.co.uk

  • We’re also thrilled to mention that the only Grade II listed lido in Wales is currently undergoing refurbishment. Ynysangharad Park lido was built in 1927 and should be ready for Pontypridd’s public by next summer. Hurrah!


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