Outdoor swimming: the best food-friendly lidos in the UK

Cool off this summer in one of the UK’s many outdoor swimming pools – and make it a proper day out with a long lazy lunch or alfresco dinner by the water. From history-steeped baths with modern restaurants to countryside pools with homemade cake on offer, here’s our pick of the best food-friendly lidos.

Outdoor swimming: the best food-friendly lidos in the UK

ENJOY DINNER AND A DIP AT…

Bristol Lido

A classy outdoor heated pool with sauna, hot tub and spa, plus restaurant serving Spanish and North African-inspired dishes – and there’s a poolside bar for cocktails and antipasto too. Access is by membership (there are limited public hours on weekdays only), so pre-book a ‘swim & eat’ package.

Thames Lido

Sister to Bristol Lido, this stylish site in Reading is Grade II listed (it’s thought to be the oldest surviving outdoor pool of the early Edwardian era) and reopened in 2017 after closing in 1974. A woodfired oven and charcoal grill give its sunny restaurant and tapas bar’s food extra flair. The same access rules apply, so book ahead.

Jubilee Pool, Penzance, Cornwall

This spectacular Art Deco shoreline lido, filled with salt water, opened in 1935. Its recently refurbished café and kitchen charms with views of St Michael’s Mount and makes use of Cornish produce including St Ewe eggs and St Ives sourdough. Expect homemade sausage rolls and inventive cakes, with cocktails and sourdough pizzas in the evening.

Hathersage Swimming Pool, Peak District

Set in a small village, this large outdoor heated pool is close to the train station, with links to Manchester and Sheffield – great for a day trip. It’s bordered by the independently run Pool Café, a good old-fashioned tea room serving classic meals and cake, with popular fish-and-chip nights on Wednesdays and Fridays.

TAKE A PICNIC TO…

Pells Pool, Lewes, East Sussex

An unheated, spring-fed pool with large tree-lined lawn. Hosts midnight swims from time to time too – admission includes a hot drink!

 

Chagford Swimming Pool, Devon

Swim in soft river water (treated and filtered), part heated with solar energy, then picnic on the large grassy area. Supplement your spread with smoothies and homemade cakes.

 

Jubilee Park Swimming Pools, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire

A heated outdoor pool and paddling pool share a beautiful park with tennis courts, croquet and bowls lawns, a children’s play park and picnic area. Special events include film screenings and midnight swims.

For more locations, plus ideas for outdoor swimming spots, visit The Outdoor Swimming Society’s Swim Map.

 

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