Hillingdeceptive!

This pool has had brilliant reviews so I was excited to go (all lidos in London done now). It was a surprise to find it to not be heated, but the setting is beautiful. 

This pool is a bit off the beaten track, but close to Uxbridge station (there is an unreliable bus service from West Ruislip). The whole sports centre looks reasonably impressive, but as soon as you walk the little arched entrance the pool looks oustandingly beautiful.

You have to go up to the main reception to get your ticket and a wristband. The surprises kept coming as entry was a measly £3. You are meant to scan your ticket to get to the poolside, I couldn’t work it out and just slid through the barriers. Yet another shock was that there was just one person leaving the pool as I arrived. It was empty. On passing he said “last one of the year done”, I just nervously replied that it would be rude not to swim on such a beautiful day, having no idea what he meant.

The changing cubicles are nice, all outside, the toilets are in a little block and kept clean, and the lockers (not that you need them) return your £1. Pretty much perfect so far. I was pretty giddy and decided to jump straight in, and that’s when it all hit me. Firstly, the brain freeze, then every single piece of body tissue trying to crush into my rib cage to hide from the cold. Then the realisation of no costs to heat the pool (cheap entry), then the ‘last one of the year’ and no one else being daft enough to be in the pool on a September afternoon. I don’t know why I expected the pool to be heated, it definitely isn’t. There are no diving signs around the edge, it’s only up to 1.6m deep and diving in would definitely cause multiple health issues.

Once I was in that was it, I’d made it this far (3 hour round trip) so needed to swim. Up and down the 50m length as fast as possible to warm up, and then finally (and amazed I still had feeling in all of my digits) after about 1k it all felt ok. If you are going swimming here I would recommend at least a hat, and probably a wetsuit. It felt much colder than even any other unheated lido or lake. A few other people joined in at different points, but no one was there for splashing about, get in do what you need and get out asap. It did take me longer to swim in the cold, I’m not sure whether I expected it to have such an impact.

On the website I didn’t understand why the pool was only open for 2 hours at a time, it’s probably to ensure people don’t die of hypothermia. So with my faffing about to get there, I only managed an hour, nowhere near the distance I wanted, but it was certainly long enough. As the pool was shut I was asked to get out, and pointed in the direction of the freezing cold poolside showers, all out in the open, no warm ones. Apparently warm showers are available for children on request, great, thanks.

After wave upon wave of coldness I was done, and thawed out on the benches. It was such a relief to relax. This pool is gorgeous to look at, but please go in the height of Summer.

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