Kit editor Omie Dale chooses her top three places to swim in London
With more hot weather forecast next week, Outdoor Swimmer‘s kit editor Omie Dale recommends the best places to escape the heat and enjoy a cooling dip in London’s wealth of outdoor swimming spots. Here are her favourite places to swim in London.
Omie says: “Parliament Hill Lido in Camden is one of my absolute favourites, and where I try to spend my Friday mornings. The decor is lush and it’s a short walk away from Hampstead ponds if you ever fancy a double dip.
The lido first opened in 1938. It’s absolutely massive at 61 metres in length, so if you’re used to swimming in a 25-metre pool it will feel very long. There’s also a paddling pool for kids.
It’s one of the unheated lidos in London and is open all year round, so if you want to get into cold water swimming, this is a great place to start.
Slots need to be booked but there is free-flow in the morning and evening. There’s also a cafe on site with great food and coffee, and even some groceries available.”
Free flow sessions are from 7-10am and 6-8.30pm (apart from Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday evenings). Slots during the day need to be booked on Eventbrite (slots released 12pm every Monday).
£7.45 for adults, £4.45 for concessions, £2.25 for children and free for children under five.
Nearest tube: Gospel Oak and Kentish Town
Parliament Hill Lido, Parliament Hill Fields, Gordon House Rd, London NW5 1LT; parliamenthilllido.org
Omie says: “West Reservoir is nestled in Hackney, a short walk from Manor House Station. It has lovely staff and is an all-round great place to swim in London.
It’s not for non-swimmers as it’s deep throughout, but there’s a good mix of people training and those taking a more leisurely swim with their pals.
There are various route lengths available, from 100 metres to a 400-metre loop.
The centre is run by Better and you book via their app, and honestly I’m convinced that when it’s hot, it’s easier to book Glastonbury tickets! You have to be on it as they go so quickly.
For non-members it’s £11 to visit, which is quite expensive but if you buy a £40 monthly membership then it’s free to go each time.
I really recommend this place because the staff are the loveliest, and they will run you through an induction if it’s your first time. There’s also a great cafe here, and the other side of the reservoir operates as a water sports centre.
You’re required to wear a tow float and a red swimming cap when you swim here – these are available to buy at the centre.
If you’re looking for people to go with, Mamma Swim hosts regular swims with a focus on mums. SoulSwimmers also hosts sessions here sometimes, with a focus on getting more Black and Asian women swimming.”
£11 for adults, £5.30 for concessions. Membership is £40 per month.
Nearest tube: Manor House
West Reservoir Water Sports Centre, Green Lanes, Woodberry Down, London N4 2HA; better.org.uk
Omie says: “This is an absolute staple place to swim in London – it holds a special place in my heart as it’s where I swam weekly last summer and it’s situated in one of the most beautiful areas of the city.
It’s one of three ponds on the heath specifically designated for swimming, with the other two being the mens and ladies ponds.
While facilities on the site are basic, you’re surrounded by the beauty of the heath, and just a short distance from Hampstead Village with its really cute shops and cafes. I recommend Karma Bread and their cinnamon rolls – they’re delicious.
During the summer season there’s free flow in the morning and evening, but slots need to be booked during the day. It’s about £4.25 for a single ticket, however, in 1871 the heath and the ponds were designated as common land for people to access freely, and there’s a current campaign called Save our Ponds challenging the compulsory charges the City of London have implemented.”
There are free flow sessions in the mornings and evenings but daytime swims need to be booked on Eventbrite (slots released Monday 12pm). The ponds have basic changing facilities and outdoor cold showers.
Nearest tube: Hampstead Heath
Mixed Pond, Hampstead Heath, London NW3 1BP; cityoflondon.gov.uk
Omie Dale is kit editor for Outdoor Swimmer and an award-winning swimming instructor. She offers private swimming lessons in Orchard Isle Pool, London Bridge, every Friday afternoon. Visit her website or Instagram page for more details. Photos by Mamma Swim.