I was wondering whether this should be posted on here, but then I remembered I make the rules! Tinside Lido in Plymouth is amazing and needs to be written about. It is such an epic pool, right next to the sea and is a brilliant swimming experience.
After a blissfully bracing weekend in Cornwall, I saw the opportunity to swim in this pool. I first read about it in an Easyjet magazine back in May (here’s the picture I took of the article ) and have been trying to work out a way of getting there ever since. As the train costs £100 to get there from London, I realised en route to Cornwall how close it was…and couldn’t resist.
20 mins downhill from the station and passing a beautiful lighthouse, I found the concrete set of staircases down to the entrance. As I peered over the wall to see, I was shocked at the size of the pool and how dramatic the contrast was between the bright clear water contained against the dark depths of the sea. The design, architecture and setting are totally unlike anything I have seen before. Quite the spectacle.
It was £4.20 in, and you need 20p for the locker (Lido rules as to whether you bother with this). The lady at the entrance was super friendly, and when I asked her the temperature, she kindly replied “17 degrees, about 2 degrees warmer than the sea” Oh right then. I remember from outdoor swimming changing that the minimum temperature allowed before a wetsuit is mandatory is 16 degrees. It was going to be cold in there.
The changing room area did the job, with good sized lockers to store my weekend baggage. It was clean in there, not another soul in sight, and with plenty of space all round. I can imagine it would be heaving if there was even a sniff of sun. Not on grey today. Out on the poolside were a row of Mum’s all watching their wetsuit-clad children frolicking about on floats. Looking up to and past the central fountain, a couple of wetsuit-clad men swimming across the pool’s 50m width. Sans wetsuit (idiot) I started down the metal ladder into the freezing water.
The water was cold but not unbearable so I set myself up right next to the lane and went to head off. Then I realised that the lido is filled with sea water. Initially, I wasn’t too bothered, but after the first 1km I needed to stop and have a drink. Today I learned that I need to ingest a lot less water when I swim! This did change the whole experience as I felt really sick by the time I left, but chuffed to have done the swim anyway. It is quite a fast pool, as it’s 1.3m deep across the longest 50m part. I certainly does feel a lot cleaner and fresher than London Lidos. I stayed in for about an hour, and when the sun appeared from behind the clouds it was truly stunning, and after getting changed it was nice to go back out and sit there with the warmth of clothing to take the edge off. The lifeguards are chatty and I had a good chat about outdoor swimming with them. It had a similar vibe to the Stoke Newington Reservoir in the sense that the staff know they are part of something special.
The only complaint really is the showers, just a row of showers in the open changing rooms so no privacy there. They were nice and warm though, but just not so great to still feel salty on the 4-hour journey back home. But really, I don’t think that this is any kind of issue at all. It’s definitely worth a visit and I would recommend to families, people training and people who just want to check out the building. All of the above people, as long as they have a bottle of fresh water and a wetsuit.