Outdoor Swimming In and Around London
A comprehensive guide to all the best wild swimming spots in and around the capital from Royal Docks to ponds, reservoirs and gravel pits. What better way to wash off the big smoke?
Hampstead Ponds There are three ponds set aside for swimmers: a men's, women's and mixed pond. Beautiful setting and quirky dedicated regulars. The late night opening at the mixed pond on Wednesdays in July is very popular. Get there by Tube to Golders Green, Hampstead or Kentish Town. Check website for opening times and prices
Shepperton Open Water Swim All swimmers welcome to this clean, clear water lake with a relaxed atmosphere, changing facilities and toilets. Just for swimmers, no other lake users. £5 entry and they also do guided swims and a resident coach. Note that there is excellent swimming in the river alongside - for free! (Thanks to Rod Newing for the tip off)
Serpentine Swimming Club Open every day of the year from 0600hrs to 0930hrs for an early morning swim
Hythe End Gravel Pits These former gravel pits near Heathrow are gorgeous, and lots of people visit when the weather gets nice. They’re also in the middle of a huge park, so there are plenty of places to have a picnic after your swim.
Frensham Great Pond is a huge pond with a sandy beach in the middle of a park of woodland and heathland. It’s gorgeous, and the perfect place to visit at the weekend.
Shadwell Basin is a disused dock that is surrounded by luxury flats. There’s a canoe centre at one end of it, and lots of people swim in it when the weather gets nice
Serpentine Lido Open in the summer only. 110yrds of open water swimming. Located in Hyde Park, the Serpentine Lido has been a Londoner's escape for over 100 years. Come and experience the outdoors in a unique atmosphere and enjoy a relaxing swim in the Serpentine. Or pull up a deckchair and sunbath while children play gleefully in the background. It's all right here in the middle of London.
London Royal Docks is open to swimmers on Wednesdays and Fridays from 5-8pm, on Thursdays from 6-9am, and Sundays from 8-10am. It’s £8 per swim, and they offer coached sessions for £20. Nearest station: Royal Victoria DLR
Stoke Newington Reservoir Centre is open for swimming from May. You’ll be able to swim there on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. It costs £15 for an induction (which you have to do), and after that it’s £5 for Better Gym members and £10 for non-members.
Charlton Lido Recently had a £2million refurbishment. 50m outdoor pool and the water is heated! Get the 89 and 178 buses
Hurst Park in Molesey is a popular swimming spot. Park in the car park and stroll across the grass to the left. There's even a tree with a hanging tyre to swing on! The cricket club near the car park has a cafe for afterwards. (Thanks to Rod Newing for the tip off)
King’s Cross Pond Club is an artificial natural bathing pond that’s part of an art installation. It’s open from 8am during the week and 10am at the weekend, and session prices range from £3.50 to £6.50.
Ham Lake swim sessions open in May. You’ll be able to swim from 6am on Tuesdays and 7am on Sundays. It costs £5 for a 90-minute session.