Emma Pusill, The Lido Guide
Main Image: Hillingdon Lido, Janet Wilkinson
A brand new lido is a rare and mythical creature, rarely sighted since the 60s and 70s. And if we are finding the waiting hard to bear, we can only imagine how torturous that must be for local swimmers desperate to have another pool to add to the south coast quiver.
And with reliable summer swimming opportunities at the beautiful, and historic Pells Pool and the renovation success story Saltdean diminishing with the onset of winter, lido lovers on the south coast will be wondering where to go to get their fix.
We’re here to help. While many of the UK’s 100 plus lidos are seasonal, hibernating under a silent blanket of leaves, the good news is that a growing number of pools open year round. The colder months can be an ideal opportunity for a lido road trip and if you live on the south coast the good news is that you have a lot of options open to you. All of them will require something of a lido road trip, but you have a good number in the south-east and I’ve focussed on those most accessible for you while throwing in a good mix of heated and unheated options.
Opening hours can vary wildly during the winter months, so refer to the websites for the latest news and if in doubt call ahead.
A fabulous 50m pool in south London. Charlton will suit the serious swimmer and the splash-about dipper in equal measure; heated to around 25c
Formerly derelict, this 50m pool is now a fine example of its kind and further refurbishment’s recently taken place. Re-opening was hotly awaited, after some delays, but the shiny new tank and spruced up changing rooms were well worth the wait.
A rooftop 25m pool in the heart of London, nestled between apartments and the sky. Often busy, but always worth it.
A glitzy, privately run pool and restaurant just ten minutes walk from Reading station. Only open to the public for a casual swim on weekday afternoons. Pricey, at £20 for a 3 hour session, but worth it for a winter treat. Heated to around 23c, and use of the sauna, steam room and hot tub are included.
Park Road Pools
This fabulous 33m pool in North London is taking the winter season one month at a time. Watch their social media at the start of every month, and they’ll confirm opening arrangements. We really hope they make it through the whole winter without closing!
This 33.3m pool in High Wycombe is a raging success in the winter. After dark the underwater lighting is breathtakingly beautiful, and the dragon’s breath rising from the warm water into the cold night air lends incredible atmosphere.
This 50m pool is blessed with one of the best lido cafes there is, and a poolside sauna. Brockwell natives are fiercely passionate about their home pool, and it’s easy to see why.
Hillingdon / Uxbridge
Beautifully renovated to show off the clean and simple lines of the Grade II listed 50m pool and buildings. Call ahead if travelling as outdoor pool opens on restricted hours in winter.
Parliament Hill Lido
A spectacular stainless steel liner puts this 66m pool in a league of its own. In the depths of winter it feels like swimming inside an iceberg. No frills changing area, but a good-sized sauna more than makes up for that.
This 50m pool is heated. But only to 10 degrees or so; that’s cold enough to put it in the unheated section. Sadly the flumes aren’t open in winter but it’s still well worth a visit.
A relatively recent pool to join the throng of winter openers, Petersfield has cold-water sessions on offer at weekends. Hot showers and catering are available, and sometimes a fire pit to warm your hands after a swim.