The ten best places to swim outdoors

From Art Deco freshwater pools to bucolic river bathing - here are Britain's best destinations for an al-fresco dip -all a stone's throw from your favourite Fenwick store filled with the latest poolside style.

Hillingdon Lido

For Fenwick Windsor shoppers: formerly known as Uxbridge Lido, the Hillingdon Outdoor Pool looks as if it has leapt into 2015 straight from its 1930s heyday, complete with fountains at either end of the large 50-metre pool. The lido re-opened in 2010 with a Grade II listed status and an additional indoor pool, for when the unheated water is too much to bear. Despite its popularity, it remains in sparkling condition. London dwellers can even jump on the tube to get there: it’s on the Piccadilly line.

Open May – September. Children £2.70; adults £6. See the swim timetable on the website for opening hours.

The Serpentine Lido

For Fenwick Bond Street shoppers: sunny days in central London, call for a trip to Hyde Park. The capital’s largest Royal Park has the Serpentine Lido, a 100m cold-water pool where you can bathe in non-chlorinated bliss alongside the ducks and swans. There are changing facilities nearby, a children’s paddling pool and play area, as well as the Lido Café Bar, which serves soft drinks, food and even wine: it is summer after all.

Open from 1 June- 12 September to the general public from 10am – 6pm. The Serpentine Swimming Club swim all year. Child £1.80; adults £4.80. 

Guildford Lido

For Fenwick Bracknell shoppers: Guildford Lido has been a much-loved feature of the town since 1933. The lido appeals particularly to kids who can use the three giant water-slides that run alongside the main, heated Olympic size pool. During the summer season there are also open-air cinema nights; book your tickets for Mamma Mia or Jaws, showing this August.

Open all year. See website for opening hours. Adults from £4.90; children from £3.60. 

The River Stour

For Fenwick Canterbury shoppers: according to fans of the ‘wild swimming’ movement, the River Stour in Kent is one of the best spots in the UK for an alfresco dip. Head to the tiny town of Fordwich and enter the river at the Old Town Hall. On a hot summer’s day it offers the most bracing and bucolic of swims and you may even spot some water voles.

Hampton Pool

For Fenwick Kingston shoppers: Hampton’s 36-metre pool is set in two acres of woodland on the edge of Bushy Park. Sunbathers can take their spot on the large grassy patch next to the pool and dip in and out of the balmy 28 degree-heated water. Summer fundraising concerts keep the charity-run pool afloat. Tickets for this summer have already sold out but performers include Lulu, Joan Armatrading and tribute band T.Rextasy.

Open all year. Under 15s £3.40; adults £6. See the website for the swim timetable. 

Peterborough Lido

For Fenwick Leicester shoppers: the Peterborough Lido with its smart clubhouse looks like something straight off of an American college campus. It was built in 1936 and has since welcomed up to 20,000 visitors each summer. Fear not, there’s plenty of space for everyone, with three heated outdoor pools (the main pool is 50m in length), a large sunbathing terrace and a grass lawn.

Open May to September. Every day 9am- 6pm May and June; 9am – 8pm July and August. £5.70 for adults; £4 for children

Pells Pool Lido

For Fenwick Tunbridge Wells shoppers: Lewes’ 50-yards-long outdoor swimming pool opened in 1861, making it the oldest freshwater pool in the UK. Like so many public lidos, there was threat of closure in the early 90s but thankfully local residents rallied together to save it. It now runs adults-only morning sessions for early birds and swim events for the competitively minded. Alternatively you can host your very own pool party there as it’s available for private hire.

Open May to September. Mon-Friday 7am-9am (for adults only) and 12-7pm; Weekends 10am-7pm. Under 16s £2; adults £4.


Brightlingsea Open Air Pool

For Fenwick Colchester shoppers: a 1930s lido that has stood the test of time, the Brightlingsea Open Air Pool includes a 50 metre main pool as well as a smaller paddling pool for children. The upside is that it’s a freshwater lido; the downside is that it’s not heated, but on a glorious summer’s day it is just the place to cool off.

Open May to September. 10am-6pm on weekends and during school holidays. 3:30-6pm at all other times. Children £2.85; adults £3.80.

Helmsley Open Air Swimming Pool

For Fenwick York shoppers: the pretty market town of Helmsley is located on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors and has a popular 20 metre outdoor pool that was refurbished last year. The facilities are basic but the pool is heated, so you don’t have to rely on a scorching summer’s day to enjoy it.

Open June – September. Monday – Sunday 11:15 – 19:00. £3.75 for under 16s; £4.75 for adults.

Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds and Parliament Hill Lido

For Fenwick Brent Cross shoppers: three freshwater swimming pools (two single-sex and one mixed pond) are hidden away on Hampstead Heath. They were once clay pits and the water remains a little on the murky side, but don’t let that put you off. The pools in the summertime are the most idyllic retreats and you may even find yourself swimming alongside a celebrity: Rupert Friend is a regular. On the other side of the Heath, near Gospel Oak station, there is Parliament Hill Lido, a 60 metre pool that shimmers in the sunshine thanks to its stainless steel lining: the only one in the UK.

Hampstead Ponds: Open all year. Men's and Ladies' Ponds 7am-8.30pm in summer, winter (Sept-Mar) times vary; Mixed Ponds 7am-6.30pm daily, Weds in July until 8.30pm. Adults £2. Parliament Hill Lido: Open all year. Under 16s, free; adults, £5.50.

Dive right in: our 10 essentials for poolside style 

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By Tory Kingdon