I’ve put off going to Hampstead Heath ponds for as long as possible. Here and Hillingdon lido are the only London outdoor ones left, and Hillingdon was closed when I wanted to go. It was daft of me to avoid this place, it is incredibly beautiful and a lovely place to swim. 

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Go Green! 

This will test my memory as it was over a week ago that I went, however, I was so genuinely impressed by the newly built Tottenham Green Pools that they have stuck in my mind.

The journey there was lovely, on a sunny morning I’d never cycled that way before and as you approach Tottenham (from the Hackney side) there is a lovely off road cycle path. 

Continue reading Go Green! 

Gurnell for gold

Way out West near Ealing Broadway with its very Brutalist entrance stands the gigantic Gurnell leisure centre. It has 3 pools and looks like it’s a swimming pool distribution warehouse with a hive of activity under the corrugated metal roof. 

On arrival up the huge stairs the staff were really nice and directed me down the stairs to the changing rooms. These have had a refurb recently and the big square space is clean and pleasant. There are some changing cubicles and the lockers of differing sizes take your 20p. 

Out to the poolside and you are spoilt for choice as you have the 50m pool in front of you, full of screaming kids on a Sunday and without lanes. Initially a bit annoyed I then saw that the ‘deep pool’ was just beyond this, at just 25m (I think) and was split into 6 lanes. If you are going there thinking you can train in a 50m pool expect to be disappointed. I don’t know about other times but Sunday is playtime.

There is a further shallow pool for littl’uns and the whole place was bustling. It looks great and clean and I liked the wall with all of the canoes lined up along it. There are huge windows along the length of the building keeping it nice and bright even though it does feel as though you are paddling about in an industrial estate. 

The deep pool is great as it has diving blocks and plenty of space to move and mess about without bothering anyone. It’s quite warm and chloriney, and the water level seems to sit quite low so you can’t really see much other than the white plastic edges once you are in. 

The showers aren’t great, all in a long line at the far end of the changing rooms in a very open space without any cubicles. There’s a couple of weird design choices here which just make it a bit awkward. Or maybe just the amount of space is quite rare so I felt exposed! 

This place is great for families and the amount of space helps you to feel free and unconstricted both in and out of the water. 

Happiness is Hampton

It’s a train journey out SW so a mission to get to, but Hampton is the a proper, old school Lido, exactly what I think one should be. It has something for everyone and a vibrant energy and character to appeal to families and serious swimmers. Love love love it. 
A colleague mentioned to me that she went here on Christmas Day once, and because it’s heated it’s actually quite pleasant. Today is was peak British Summer and was still perfect. 
It’s a little, peaceful walk from the station and once there it is buzzing. The staff on the door are chatty and take your £7.20 happily. If you aren’t interested in the swimming pool there is a gym and cafe in the main building. 
As you head to the changing rooms there are an abundance of signs with rules and regulations some of which are pretty weird (shaving is forbidden in the showers – damn straight). There are a couple of changing cubicles but it’s mostly all open with a bench in the middle (the lido way). Lockers return your £1 and you are urged to use them. 

I was eager to get out to poolside and getting there did not disappoint. The small kiddies pool had loads of families in splashing about and the 50m beauty was split in half with 3 lanes running the length on the right hand side. Beyond the pool there are picnic benches and a big grassy area with kids playing football. The weathered plastic slides into the pool are a nice touch, but not in use today, they clearly have been though. In the pool there were families teaching each other to dive and chucking each other about, fun times all the way. 
The water is not that warm, but very pleasant, and doesn’t feel as though it’s full of chemicals. There’s the odd bit of plant debris but it just reminds you that you are outside and enjoying the Summer.
Back to the changing rooms, there are 2 warm showers and 2 cold ones all open, but they work well. The best bit is after the swim you can head out back to the grass and have a good sunbathe.
Well worth the trip. Good clean fun.