Three life-guarded, open-air swimming ponds (yes real ponds, weeds and all!) in the heart of London. Each pond (ladies, mens and mixed) has its own unique atmosphere, whether you want secluded bathing among ducks and lily pads, clear open water for training, or a place to splash about with friends and wash away the London grime. At each pond, there is a grassy bank for sitting, a jetty to dive off and changing rooms complete with showers. Swimming in the pond is the most serene, yet invigorating way to finish off a summers day in the capital. Oh and did I mention that they're open all year round?
+44(0)20 7485 3873
Google map: bit.ly/QdGSKG
Nearest tube: Highgate or Hampstead
Overground: Gospel Oak or Hampstead Heath
A little slice of heaven in the middle of Hyde Park. The lido is part of the Serpentine - a whole 100 metres roped off in the lake itself, just for swimming, be it a leisurely paddle or energetic workout. You can spend the whole day here for £4 which has to be the capital's best bargain! The lake water is cool and refreshing on a hot summer day so much better than chlorine or salt water. There is a little area to bask in the sunshine, a cafe, changing rooms and even a paddling pool for kids, but the real star is the refreshing dark lake water. If you are lucky it will just be you and the ducks - bliss!
Most idyllic place for early morning dip, watching London come alive with a memorable view.
The ponds hidden among the trees on Hampstead Heath in North London are large natural pools complete with changing rooms and large decking areas which allow for confident dives into the water or possibly more graceful steps into the hidden depths. Once in, swimming amongst the lilly pads, reeds and low hanging branches make for the most beautiful outdoor swimming location where you can cool off and completely forget that you are anywhere near an urban setting let alone right in the middle of the countries capital.
Saturday morning and a moorhen is busy repairing her nest. Nearby a new brood cluster, while one bravely ventures out over the still water. Trees overhang in heavy green and reeds, bushes and white flowers tussel for poolside seats - for this is Hampstead Heath swimming ponds and the swimmers are visitors to this natural wonderland. Brought up in nearby Archway, these cool waters drew me in after hot days at school and then later after work office. The secluded green fields around the ponds are perfect for laying out to dry in the sun with the weekend papers and a carton of juice. There are three pools, one for women, one for men and a mixed pond, all complete with showers, changing rooms, lifeguards and wooden decks to access the deep water. Each time I have brought a friend, its such a pleasure to see their glee as they swim with ducklings or float on their backs under the blue sky, worlds away from the bustling city that lies just across the park.
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