The Lido Guide

Achieve holiday happiness with
ten of the best lidos for the while family


If you've ever stood and simply listened to an outdoor pool, you'll know that children generally find them irresistible. The air is thick with shrieked excitement and a babble of voices and water. But some children aren't perhaps so easily pleased - they want a little more bang for their buck than can be provided by 'just' a hole in the ground filled with water. And the adults in the party might look on a trip to a lido with a sense of dread, not relishing the prospect of swimming.

But lidos can make for a great day out, even for non-swimmers.
Here are ten of the best to keep the whole family happy.


1. Mount Wise, Plymouth, Devon


A complex of three pools, Mount Wise is free to use and set in a sheltered suntrap right on the harbour wall. The main tank will please swimmers who like to bash out a few laps, or spend time jumping and diving in. The free-form paddling pools, with fountain and lazy river, have shallow water and are ideal for smaller swimmers to splash around in. There are sun-loungers for those who prefer to soak up the rays, or relax with a book, and all the family will enjoy the sea views and salt air. You could easily spend all day here, and picnics are welcome.

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2. Haltwhistle Swimming and Leisure Centre, Northumberland


This small community, on the southern fringe of the Northumberland National Park, boasts a fine outdoor pools complex. There are three heated pools, ranging in size and depth from a full-size lap pool to a shallow baby pool, set in grassy grounds that are ideal for picnicking or snacking from the on-site cafe. The grounds have a small play area for children who aren't keen on the water, and there is plenty of space to stretch out for a snooze in the sunshine. The huge flume that runs alongside the pools will keep thrill seekers of all ages entertained, and less robust swimmers will enjoy the heated, indoor changing areas. Those who prefer their exercise on dry land can make use of the indoor leisure centre facilities while the water-lovers do their thing outside.

Image credit: Emma Pusill

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3. Hayle Outdoor Swimming Pool, Cornwall


Hayle's nearest lido neighbour, Jubilee Sea Pool in Penzance, gets a lot of attention; while that's richly deserved swimming families shouldn't overlook Hayle. It's got great accessibility for any swimmers with limited mobility, given the level access from the car park and the good steps with a handrail into the water. There are slides to keep the little ones happy, sun-loungers for those inclined to stretch out and rest and a terrific cafe that is accessible from poolside. Their cream teas and good coffee will keep even the most ardent foodie happy.

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4. Ilkley Lido, Yorkshire


Ilkley is a large, 1930s lido complete with wedding-cake fountain and staggeringly beautiful views. The pool contains a lap area for serious swimmers, splashing about in the fountain is positively encouraged and there is a slide for the young and young and heart. The large, grassy grounds contain a good cafe, picnics are welcome, and non-swimmers may enjoy the other activities on site such as tennis and the putting green.

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5. Stonehaven Open Air Swimming Pool, Aberdeenshire


This pool is a riot of colour set right on the edge of the North Sea. The surrounding walls protect the site, making it feel quite Mediterranean on all but the worst days. Even those who don't relish swimming may enjoy a therapeutic dip in the heated salt-water, and the sun terraces are a relaxing place to spend a few hours while the more adventurous will love the super-speedy stainless-steel slide. Under-8s can splash about in the toddler pool, and visitors of a certain vintage will enjoy all the period detailing that has been well-preserved here. Finally, the whole family will enjoy the cafe, with its displays of the history of the pool and what are quite possibly the best cheesy chips to be had at any lido.

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6. Marbury Park Open Air Pool, Cheshire


If your family includes nature-lovers, this is the pool for you. The secret-garden style setting, on the edge of a country park, is enchanting; surrounded by mature shrubs and trees you can lie on your back and watch the leaves sway in the breeze as a host of small birds dart and dive above you. The main pool is a good size, with an elevated diving platform over the deep end for the more adventurous in the party. Little swimmers will enjoy the splash pool with water jets.

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7. Lymington Sea Water Baths, Hampshire


This huge salt-water bath is tucked into a dell and sheltered from the sea-breezes. Non-swimmers can settle down on a sun-lounger and enjoy the bustle of activity going on all around. There is a lap swimming area, a beach-style entry shallow area for smaller swimmers, a huge inflatable obstacle course and an area of the pool dedicated to zorbing and stand up paddle-boarding. There really is something for everyone here, right down to the excellent ice-cream on sale in the kiosk.

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8. Brockwell Lido, London


Sometimes referred to as 'Brixton Beach', Brockwell in the summertime is as much a place to see and be seen as it is a place to swim. The terraces are fantastic for people watching, and the pool big enough that both serious swimmers and those who prefer endless rounds of jumping in will be happy. The terrace of the first-rate cafe is perfect for sitting and watching the swimmers in your family, although booking is advisable as the quality of the food attracts diners independently of the pool. There are gym and fitness classes available on site, although if raising a cup of excellent coffee is all the exercise you want, you're well catered for.

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9. Faversham Pools, Kent


The three pools on this site, combined with grassy areas for picnickers and bookworms, offer a combination of lap swimming, high diving, rapids riding, splash zone and toddler pool. The heated water will be popular with all ages, and if the sun gets a little much visitors can retreat to the indoor café area. The main pool features a hoist, so disabled family members can join in the fun too.

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10. Jubilee Park Pool, Lincolnshire


Jubilee Park is the jewel in Woodhall Spa's crown, featuring recreation grounds, rose gardens, a band stand and a heated 33m pool that sits in its own immaculately manicured grounds. Next to the main pool is a baby pool, and there's a slide and a fountain to entertain smaller swimmers. Non-swimmers will enjoy a stroll around the park, or they could just lounge on the grass, admire the gardens and treat themselves to some cake from the excellent on-site kiosk.

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Written by: Emma Pusill
Brought to you by: Different Life