By Hibah Khan|
February 28, 2022|
5 min read
Revealed: The best places to open-water swim in and outside of the capital
We love cold water swimming and the positive impacts that it has on our mind and body, so much so, we’ve compiled a list of 14 of the loveliest alfresco outdoor swimming spots in London. This list includes lidos, ponds, rivers, and lakes in and around the capital where you can take a dip.
Keep in mind that if you’re swimming outside, you should be aware of any potential hazards, we suggest reading our guide on Open Air Swimming to get clued-up before you go.
Parliament Hill Lido:
Hampstead Heath unquestionably has the greatest concentration of outdoor swimming pools in London. If you don’t like the natural, slightly muddy water of the ponds, the Lido at the base of Parliament Hill may be for you. It’s one of London’s 1930s lidos, with a lovely modernist building housing changing rooms and sparkling blue water to swim in. It’s open all year, so you can come here for winter morning swims, but it’s especially popular during the summer.
Address: Parliament Hill Fields, Gordon House Rd, London, NW5 1LT
London Fields Lido
This Olympic-sized pool is another 1930s relic, though it took a twenty-year campaign to reopen it after it closed in the 1980s and became a haven for illegal raves. It is now a popular summer destination for East Londoners, with a sun terrace and café to keep visitors occupied when they are not in the water. The pool is open all year and also heated! So this may be a good one for outdoor swimming beginners.
Address: London Fields West Side, London, E8 3EU
West Reservoir Centre:
With tower blocks looming in the background but a natural idyll in the foreground, 23 acres of open water in a secluded area of Hackney makes for a pretty impressive place for a swim. The centre offers a variety of watersports, including sailing, kayaking, and swimming. There’s also a lovely cafe with a view of the water where you can get a post-dip coffee.
Address: West Reservoir Water Sports Centre, Green Lanes, Woodberry Down, N4 2HA
London Royal Docks:
As much as we enjoy watching the Royal Docks water from the shore, there’s something truly magical about seeing it from within. With paddleboarding in Royal Victoria Dock, rowing and more at Royal Docks Watersports and swimmers coming or going into the water.. The Royal Docks is a beacon for water enthusiasts.
Address: Dock Rd, London, E16 1AH
Beckenham Place Park Swimming Lake:
As part of the multi-million pound regeneration of Beckenham Place Park, this relatively new wild swimming spot opened in Lewisham. This lake, set among the 237-acre grounds of a Georgian mansion, is 3.5 metres at its deepest point and anyone who enjoys wild swimming will find a haven in this restored lake.
Address: Beckenham Hill Rd, Beckenham, BR3 1SY
Tooting Bec Lido:
This lido in south London is the largest freshwater swimming pool in the UK, as well as one of the oldest, having opened in 1906. Its attractive, colourful changing rooms and large area make it a popular hangout. It is open to the public from late May to September each year, but members of the South London Swimming Club swim there all year.
Address: Tooting Bec Rd, London, SW16 1RU
Since its launch in 2004, the outdoor pool has been a popular destination, particularly for its moonlight swims, which allow visitors to swim under the stars until 9 p.m. The 36-metre-long tiled pool is set in the woods outside Bushy Park and is surrounded by grassy banks for sunbathing in between swims.
Address: High St, Hampton, TW12 2ST
Pools On The Park:
This open-air pool is located in beautiful Old Deer Park, just a few minutes walk from Richmond train station and is surrounded by trees and lush greenery. There are two pools here, one indoor and one outdoor, with the latter only open during the summer months and heated to a comfortable 24C. Come for a swim before exploring the deer park or walking along the nearby river.
Address: Old Deer Park, Twickenham Rd, Richmond, TW9 2SF
This retro beauty can be found at the western end of the Piccadilly Line: an eight-lane, 25-metre outdoor pool for sunny swims. The pool was designed in the Art Deco style and opened in 1935, during a period when lidos in the UK were at their peak. After facing permanent closure in the 1980s and 1990s, the entire complex was refurbished and reopened in 2010.
Address: Gatting Way, Uxbridge, UB8 1ES
For over a century, the Serpentine Lido has served as a haven for Londoners seeking a respite from the city. It is London’s oldest swimming club, surrounded by the open green spaces of Hyde Park. The lido provides visitors with a refreshing dip in the swan-filled Serpentine, followed by time to relax and recline on a deck chair. Public swimming in The Lido will return this summer.
Address: The Serpentine, Hyde Park, Kensington, W2 3XA
Oasis Sports Centre:
The outdoor swimming pool of Oasis Sports Centre is just a short walk from the West End. It’s 27.5m long, heated, and has just enough space for a sunbathe. Inside, a second pool is usually used for lessons and aqua-fitness classes, leaving this one open for a few gentle lengths. If you’re just not ready for cold water swimming, this pool is heated all year round.
Address: 32 Endell St, London, WC2H 9AG
Merchant Taylors’ Lake:
This lake, located on the grounds of the same-named school, is very well managed – there are staff on the water in kayaks keeping an eye on the swimmers. The beautiful freshwater lake has two swimming loops and if you’re new to open water swimming or want to brush up on your skills, you can hire a local swimming coach.
Address: Merchant Taylors’ School, Sandy Lodge Road, Moor Park, Northwood, HA6 2HT
Distance from London: 30 Miles
The River Colne is a great place to visit if you want to get away from it all but don’t want to travel too far. This untamed swimming hole is located on a six-mile circular walk around Rickmansworth Aquadrome, which feels much more rural than its location within the M25 would suggest. It’s fast-moving but shallow water, ideal for a paddle if you don’t want to make a splash!
Address: Riverside Drive, Herts, WD3 1NB
Distance from London: 30 Miles
Divers Cove is a beautiful 7.3-acre reservoir in Godstone known for its turquoise water. There’s a 450m and 650m circuit which are marked by large buoys and there is always one fully trained safety crew member in the water, as well as one spotter on the pontoon.
Address: Divers Cove, North Park Lane, Godstone, RH9 8ND.
Distance from London: 20 Miles