There have actually been some benefits to an around the world pandemic. There was the farmer who grumbled to me that he was having to splash his fields with extra minerals since, in his words: “We’re simply not getting the air pollution we utilized to.” And after that there’s all individuals who have actually used up cold-water swimming, no doubt intending to increase their immune systems (the proof remains equivocal: this academic paper is worth reading).
I’ll own up here: I did wild swim every day up until early December, when the water temperature level was 2C, and after that one day, in a downpour of freezing rain and a minute of deep individual insight, I understood just how much I like warm water. Numerous others, made from sterner stuff, have actually kept it going, but now with lockdown relieving there is the possibility to swim outdoors in gorgeous countryside without being gone after by dragonflies, standing in sheep poo or swallowing algae (all things I experienced before retiring).
The heyday of British lidos was the 1920s and 30s, when huge crowds would opt for the day and enjoy competitors and shows, the majority of notoriously Roy Fransen’s Dive of Death, generally carried out after dark with the water alight with petrol and Roy himself, in a silver match, also ablaze. I guess he didn’t like cold water either, but a number of this choice are in fact warmed.
From the 1960s numerous lidos closed and those that stay today have generally been saved by determined neighborhood action. There are numerous gems around Britain where you can take pleasure in an al fresco swim in clean water with changing facilities and still be in the countryside.
Hathersage Swimming Pool, Peak District
Lots of big towns would covet Hathersage (population 2,000) its 30-metre outdoor pool, integrated in 1936 with funds from local benefactor George Lawrence (and just recently reconditioned). Views extend out north-east towards Stanage Edge, one of Britain’s premier rock-climbing places. As it is open until 9pm (Mon-Thur), where better to unwind after conquering rock classics like High Neb and Marble Wall? The water is preserved at 28C and there are hot showers.
Opened 29 March, ₤ 7 (tickets go on sale online every Friday for the following week), cafe, picnic in the park next door, hathersageswimmingpool.co.uk
Sandford Parks Lido, Cheltenham
Another of the traditional 1930s generation of lidos, Sandford’s 50-metre swimming pool was conserved and reconditioned in 2006 after much marketing by regional people. It boasts a great setting for an outdoor swim, with substantial yards backed by mature trees. The primary pool is heated to 25C and there’s a 30C kids’s pool, an impressive fountain and altering facilities.
Opens 1 May, ₤ 7, coffee shop, picnic on yard, sandfordparkslido.org.uk
Droitwich Medspa Lido, Worcestershire
Yearning for the Cote d’Azur or the islands of the Adriatic? Well, Droitwich Spa might provide the answer. This lido is an uncommon thing indeed: an inland saltwater swimming pool that is heated up to the very same temperature level as the Mediterranean, 23C, and surrounded by lovely parkland. Droitwich bases on large deposits of salt, hence the natural brine which is pumped in every year– 40,000 gallons of it. Integrated in 1935 in an art deco style, it has a kids’s wet play area with fountains and cannons and a sun terrace.
Opens 1 May, ₤ 6, coffee shop, picnic on the lawns, visitdroitwichspa.com
Pells Pool, Lewes, East Sussex
This is the grand old original of all open-water swimming pools: opened in 1861 as a 50-yard-long unheated pool long before the days front crawl captured on (two Native American swimmers, Flying Gull and Tobacco, had actually beat the English in an 1844 swimming competitors held in London but the British declined to embrace the stroke for another half century, considering it ungentlemanly). Surrounded by lawns, trees, and a flint wall, the pool is a charming location in the South Downs to invest a day with a picnic. Warm showers await when you have actually emerged from the unheated pool, which uses water from chalk aquifers.
Aiming to open 8 May, from ₤ 3, coffee shop, picnic on the yards, pellspool.org.uk
Chagford Swimming Pool, Devon
Fed by water from the River Teign, this 1933 classic in the north of the Dartmoor national park is well worth visiting. The initial mud bottom and high diving boards are long gone, but the website is little altered in other aspects: surrounded by trees with a tea shed for beverages. The water is heated up to a balmy 26C and is UV-treated with very little chlorination.
Restricted opening from 7 June, admission rate tbc, cafe, picnic tables, chagfordpool.co.uk
Helmsley Open Air Pool, North York Moors
North of England lidos and outdoor pools remain in short supply these days, so it’s great to include this little North Yorkshire treasure– in fact Yorkshire’s only heated outside pool. The 25-metre swimming pool is set in lovely gardens in the village of Helmsley, itself an exceptional base for exploring the North York Moors national park. Run by an enthusiastic group, it typically has events such as night-time swims and different classes.
Aiming to open on 21 June, ₤ 5, coffee shop in the town, picnic tables, helmsleyopenairpool.org
Ilkley Lido, West Yorkshire
In 1935, the town of Ilkley did something magnificent: it opened a lido with moorland views which was 46 metres wide and shaped something like a mushroom. It had diving boards and slides, and to get things rolling they granted a reward for the “smartest and neatest contemporary bathing costume”. Regretfully, the diving boards and slides have actually gone, however this unheated lido keeps going, with the assistance of volunteers. Similar to a lot of lidos, on a hot summer’s day it can get really busy.
Opening tbc however typically May-September, ₤ 4.80, coffee shop, picnic on yards, thelido.co.uk
Gourock Swimming Pool, near Greenock, Scottish lowlands
Lidos and outside swimming pools are not common in Scotland, that makes Gourock especially unique. It boasts an exceptional sea view throughout the Firth of Clyde to the hills of Argyll, however more importantly, specifically on a cold day, this saltwater swimming pool is heated up to a generous 29C. It is the perfect place to idle away an hour or two while waiting for a ferryboat across to Dunoon or to enjoy giant ships sailing past. Legend has it that a basking shark was once swept up into the swimming pool by a huge wave and landed beside a swimmer. There is likewise a beast in Loch Ness.
Opening date and admission rate tbc, inverclydeleisure.com
Shap Pool, Cumbria
Eager for a bit of high elevation crawl? Forget the Himalayas, England has its own alternative at practically 1,000 feet. This volunteer-run, 16.5-metre swimming pool is heated to a civilised 26C and has a children’s swimming pool and sandpit too.
Opening tbc, ₤ 5, picnic tables, shapswimmingpool.co.uk
Green Bank Pool, Street, Somerset
This charm is in the big town of Street, however surrounded by yards and trees, it feels happily rural. Sadly it will not be opening up until 2022 due to the fact that of the pandemic, however it’s certainly one to check out when it does resume. The swimming pool was built in 1937 after a bequest from among the Clark family– as in the shoe dynasty– who thought the employees should have a swim after work. And we are not talking “cold water benefits you” dips: Greenbank maintains a tropical 30C regime. You won’t see Wim Hof diving in here– he ‘d get heatstroke.
Reopening 2022, ₤ 5, cafe, picnic on yards, on Facebook