Despite the unpredictable British weather, the UK is home to some outstanding open-air pools. Here, Musement takes a look at ten of the best outdoor swimming pools in the UK.
Whilst wild swimming might not be for everyone, nothing tops alfresco swimming in an outdoor swimming pool. The golden age of outdoor swimming pools, known as lidos in the UK, was in the 1920s and 30s when outdoor swimming became popular. Unfortunately, a lot of them were forced to close due to a decline in popularity as foreign holidays became more affordable. However, there has been a resurgence in recent years, and many have re-opened thanks to determined communities across the UK.
From the banks of the Clyde in Gourock to the rolling hills of Ilkley Moor, read on to discover Musement’s top picks of outdoor swimming pools in the UK:
1. Gourock Outdoor Pool, Gourock, Scotland
First opened in 1909, Gourock is home to the oldest outdoor heated swimming pool in Scotland. Located right on the water’s edge, the pool uses salt water taken from the Firth of the Clyde. The water is filtered, cleaned and heated to a minimum temperature of 29 degrees. So, even if the Scottish weather isn’t in your favour, Gourock Outdoor Pool is still the perfect place for a swim.
The facilities include a patio and a terrace, so you can relax after a swim and enjoy the stunning views over the Clyde Estuary. Gourock is easily accessible from Glasgow and the pool is usually open to the public from May to September. It also offers midnight swims during the peak season.
2. Brockwell Lido, London, England
Located in Brockwell Park, South London, this Olympic size pool is surrounded by a Grade II listed art deco building. First opened in 1937, the lido was closed in 1990 due to a lack of funding, but after a local campaign it re-opened in 1994. A much-loved local landmark, facilities at Brockwell Lido now include a steam room, sauna, a gym and studio space. The poolside café is also a great place to fuel up after your swim. The pool is unheated and open all year round.
3. Bristol Lido, Clifton, England
One of the most picturesque outdoor swimming pools in the UK. Bristol Lido is set within a Grade II restored Victorian building. Originally opened in 1850, it fell into disrepair by the 1990s and was closed to the public. Restoration work began in 2005 and it re-opened to the public in 2008. Today, the facilities include a spa, hot-tub, sauna, poolside bar and a restaurant. The swimming pool is heated to around 23 degrees and is open all year round.
4. Jubilee Pool, Cornwall, England
This glorious 1930s art deco outdoor swimming pool is the largest seawater pool in the UK and one of Cornwall’s most popular attractions. Located near Penzance Harbour, the triangular pool overlooks the sea and provides visitors with views of the bay and St Michael’s Mount. Although the main pool is unheated, one section is now geo-thermally heated and is accessed independently of the main pool. You will also find a pool café with indoor and outdoor seating which serves breakfast, lunch and drinks. The pool is currently open from May to September, but thanks to the newly installed geo-thermal pool there are plans for year-round opening in the near future.
5. Tinside Lido, Plymouth, England
Overlooked by Plymouth Hoe, Tinside Lido is situated on the banks of The Sound, one of Plymouth’s most popular bays. Built in 1935, this outdoor saltwater pool is the perfect example of an art-deco style lido. However, like many lidos on the list, it was a victim of declining popularity and closed in 1992. After a local campaign and a £3.4 million refurb, the Tinside Lido was granted Grade II listed building status in 1998 and it finally re-opened to the public in 2005. As well as the pool itself, facilitates include a sun deck and a café. The pool is open from May until September each year.
6. Stonehaven Open Air Pool, Stonehaven, Scotland
Stonehaven Open Air Pool is located near Aberdeen and is the northernmost outdoor public swimming pool in the UK. Opened in 1934, the Olympic sized heated pool uses seawater from Stonehaven Bay, which is set at a minimum temperature of 29 degrees. Featuring sheltered sun terraces, a kid’s paddling pool and a chute, Stonehaven Open Air Pool is suitable for the whole family. It is usually open from late May to early September and offers moonlight swims in the high season.
7. Pells Pool, Lewes, England
Built in 1860, Pells Pool is the oldest freshwater outdoor swimming pool in the UK that is still operating. The water is unheated and is fed by fresh spring water dawn from beneath. Besides the main pool, facilities include a children’s padding pool, a sun terrace and a café. Pells Pool is usually open from May until late October time.
8. Ilkley Pool and Lido, Yorkshire, England
Overlooking the rolling hills of Ilkley Moors, this outdoor swimming pool is one of the most scenic to make the list. Opened in 1935, the unusually shaped pool is unheated and art deco in style. The Grade II listed building also houses an indoor pool and there are tennis courts and bowling greens within the grounds. The outdoor pool is available for swimmers from May to September.
9. Saltdean Lido, Brighton, England
Saltdean Lido in Brighton is a Grade II* listed art deco outdoor swimming pool. Constructed in 1937, it resembles an ocean liner and was considered one of the most innovative designs of its type. After just two summer seasons, it closed in 1940 and was used as a water tank for the fire service during World War II. After decades of openings and closures, it finally re-opened to the public in 2017. Today, the building is undergoing a huge restoration project to return it to its former glory. The outdoor heated pool is typically open from May to September.
10. Thames Lido, Reading, England
Formally known as King’s Meadow swimming pool, Thames Lido was first opened in 1903. It was abandoned in 1974 after decades of neglect. Refurbishments to restore it back to its Edwardian glory began in 2013 and it reopened to the public in 2017. The pool is open all year round and is heated to around 23 degrees. The facilities now also include a hot tub, saunas, massage rooms, restaurant, bar and function room.