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Historic lidos for a winter dip

Gina Drummond

Read time:

17th January 2024

Take the plunge with outdoor swimming in a setting with style

Although usually considered a summer activity, a trip to a lido out of season can come with added health benefits. Cold-water swimming is thought to release endorphins to boost mood, as well as improving circulation and immunity.

Although some lidos still in existence hark back to Victorian times, their heyday was in the 1930s, when they were built by local councils to promote wellness and relaxation long before concepts of holistic health became popular.

Grab your towel and check out our pick of top lidos for a winter swim, in a pool with provenance.

Bristol Lido

This restored Victorian swimming pool first opened in 1850. The 24-metre pool is heated throughout the year to around 22–25 degrees, and chlorine levels are kept as low as possible thanks to Lido Bristol’s ‘wash naked’ policy and bespoke lido spa products in every shower cubicle. There is also a spa and poolside restaurant serving tapas and chargrilled dishes.

Brockwell Lido

This Grade II-listed lido in Herne Hill, London, boasts a 50-metre unheated pool which is open all year for braver swimmers, plus an outdoor sauna in the winter months. Brockwell Lido has stylish sunbathing terraces (for the warmer seasons!) and also a café offering artisan pizzas and coffees.

Lido Ponty

The National Lido of Wales is a Grade II-listed lido in Pontypridd offering winter cold-water swimming sessions for the bold of heart. There are three pools: a main pool, an activity pool and a splash pool. In the warmer months, the water is heated and it’s a family-friendly destination where you can hire fun inflatables, enjoy features such as an umbrella water fountain and explore the outdoor adventure play park.

 

Gina Drummond
Gina Drummond

Sandford Parks Lido

First opened in 1935, this lovely lido in Cheltenham is in a really elegant setting. Sandford Parks has cold-water swimming sessions throughout the winter months, plus you can sign up for a cold-water induction session, which includes expert advice from an experienced coach and a hot drink to help you warm up afterwards!

Thames Lido

Originally opened in 1902, Thames Lido is the oldest surviving outdoor municipal pool of the early Edwardian era. Located in Reading, the lido reopened in 2017 following an extensive restoration programme and now has Grade II-listed status. The 25-metre pool is heated to 26 degrees, and there’s a stylish restaurant with a mouth-watering menu and a luxurious spa in the building too.

Safety note

  • Make sure you follow the safety guidelines for cold-water swimming if you’re visiting an unheated pool: enter the water gradually to let your body aclimatise to the temperature, quickly get dry and warm up afterwards, and have a hot sugary drink.
WORDS: ELLIE TENNANT

 

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