Is the heat getting to you? Do you live in the city, miles from the coast? Well, why don’t you cool off this summer at one of these refreshing landlocked lidos or inland, outdoor swimming pools?
The most expensive of the 13 lidos built in the capital during their 1920s and ‘30s heyday, Parliament Hill still has an opulent air. Swimming in the 61m, stainless steel pool is like taking a dip in a giant, metal bowl. For a less polished experience, head to Hampstead Heath’s bathing ponds just a short walk away.
When it opened in 1927, this Grade II-listed lido brought a touch of Mediterranean glamour to the Welsh valleys. Now, fully restored to its former glory, the National Lido of Wales (as it’s dubbed) boasts three heated pools and an adventure play park. At one time, it was not unusual to see Ponty’s very own Sir Tom Jones practising his breaststroke here.
Enjoy a swim in a saline pool while being about as far from the sea as it’s possible in Britain. The town of Droitwich lies on vast deposits of salt and natural brine (which is ten times stronger than seawater) from local streams is used to fill the lido. It first opened in 1935 and the art-deco entrance still stands.
The Kings Meadow Swimming Baths were built on the banks of the Thames (and fed by the river) in 1902 to enable Edwardian ladies to bathe in privacy. Now, Thames Lido (as it’s known) offers secluded luxury with a heated 25m pool, spa facilities and a tapas bar. There’s also a sister site in Bristol.
The town of Street in Somerset is synonymous with sensible shoes and cooling water from the famous Clarks factory was used to heat this picturesque outdoor pool when it opened in 1937. The lido was a gift to the local people from the Clark family, who disapproved of them swimming naked in the nearby river.
Guildford’s lido has been in continuous use since it was opened by the mayor (who was the first person to dive in) in 1933. There’s an Olympic-sized pool, three water slides and (somewhat incongruously for Surrey) a Mexican snack bar. It also offers starlight swimming sessions and open-air film screenings on balmy summer evenings. Jaws, anyone?
At 100 yards (91m) long and holding a million gallons of water, Tooting Bec is the largest freshwater lido in the country. It’s also one of the oldest, but when the pool opened in 1906, sexes were segregated with women only allowed to swim once a week.