Somerset’s outdoor swimming pools and lidos
When the temperature’s up all the Muddies and I want to do is jump into a pool of cool, clear, sparkling water. Luckily Somerset’s got a fair few outdoor pools and lidos. Come on in, I’ve heard the water’s wonderful…
Sun on the terraces at the Portishead Open Air Pool
Portishead Open Air Pool is impressively huge and the views across the Bristol Channel from its sun terraces are said to be fabulous. The pool, built in the 1960s, was given an extreme makeover on TV by Ty Pennington’s Great British Adventure in 2009 and is looking good. The 33m main pool is heated by green energy, has two diving boards and there’s a toddler pool open on warm days. The community cafe Cafe Lido sells coffees, teas, wraps and paninis, jacket pototoes, etc., but you can bring a picnic.
Opening hours during the summer holidays: 8.30am-7pm. Single swims costs £5 adults; junior 2-15 £3.50; family of 4 £14; spectators £3. Season ends 18 September.
Portishead Open Air Pool, Esplanade Rd, Portishead, Bristol BS20 7HD. tel 01275 843454. portisheadopenairpool.org.uk
Art Deco swimming at the Greenbank Pool in Street
Built by the philanthropic shoe-making Clarks family, the Greenbank Heated Outdoor Pool opened in 1937 so that local women and children would have somewhere to swim while the men – cheeky chappies – swam naked in the river Brue. It’s still got that retro feel and patrons are still being asked to kindly refrain from bombing and petting. There’s a 30m main pool with a deep end for diving, a semi-circular children’s pool with a slide and a newer water fun/splash area for younger kids to one side.
The Oasis shop sells a limited range of drinks, sweets and ice-creams but you can take your own food and drink and picnic on the lawns around the pool. Entrance £5.50 adults (even if you’re not going in); £4.50 children 2-17; under 2s free. The pool is open from 10am-6.30pm (plus an extra half hour for adults) during the summer holidays.
Greenbank Pool, Wilfrid Road, Street, BA16 0EU, Tel 01458 442468. greenbankpool.co.uk
Swim, lunch and spa at the Bristol Lido
Treat yourself to a dip – and maybe lunch at the award-winning poolside restaurant, a drink in the bar or time in the spa – in one of the UK’s oldest lidos. Bristol Lido dates back to 1849 but reopened after a Grade II listing by English Heritage and a total refurbishment in 2008. An afternoon pass (Mon-Fri, 1pm-4pm) gives you three hours to enjoy the pool, sauna, steam room and hot tub for £20 (no need to book). You can also buy swim and eat packages, to swim and have … breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner or tapas and wine, from £35 per person. Maybe one to keep for when the kids have gone back to school, although if you can’t shake the little darlins off, they can join you in the pool between 2pm-4pm (under 3s free; 4-17 £7.50/child). See my review.
Lido, Oakfield Place, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2BJ. Tel 0117 9379530. lidobristol.com
Shepton Mallet Lido
Not your usual rural setting (but strangely attractive, at least in this pic). There’s a heated 25m pool with separate children’s pool and fun splash area and a basic tuck shop – and a table tennis table. Open every day of the week. Swim costs £4.20 adults; £2.50 junior (5-18); £3.20 senior. You can book online.
Shepton Mallet Lido, Shaftsgate Avenue. Shepton Mallet BA4 5YA. Tel 01749 347851. fusionsportandfitness.com/centre/shepton-mallet
Wivey Pool in Wiveliscombe
Heated pool with sunbathing deck, picnic area and playground/open space next door. There’s a basic shop. Open every day, see the website for timings but during the summer hols its 12.30pm-5pm. You have to become a member to swim here but it only costs £4.20 (adult), £3.80 (3-16 years) per person per day; under 2s free and spectators might want to make a small donation. Season ends 11 September.
Wiveliscombe Community Pool, The Recreation Ground, Culverhay Lane (off West Road), Wiveliscombe, TA4 2TA. Tel 01984 624720. wiveypool.org
Tintinhull village pool, nr Yeovil
This little village pool on the Tintinhull recreation ground was built in the 1930s and is run by the Parish Council. There’s a toddlers’ splash pool alongside the swimming pool – both are heated. It’s run by volunteers (‘openers’) so it’s got limited opening hours even during the school holidays up until 1 Sept but you can check timings here. If you live outside the village, it costs £4 for an adult and £2 for a child swim – and nothing if you’re not going in. There’s space to run around, trees to climb and a playground for younger kids on the village recreation ground.
Tintinhull Pool, Recreation Ground, Queen Street, BA22 8PG. tintinhull.net/amenities/pool/
Clevedon Marine Lake, Clevedon
Thanks to one Muddy reader who told me about this awesome sea water tidal pool on Clevedon seafront, which dates back to 1929 and re-opened after restoration last year. The lake’s around 250m x 100m, shallow around the edges and about 3m deep by the sea wall, with a splash pool for younger children. Run by volunteers, it’s free to use – you can swim or take your kayak, canoe, paddle board or dinghy, or rent a little rowing boat.
Clevedon Marine Lake, 170 Old Church Road, BS21. marlens.org.uk
And one day, hopefully…
The Cleveland Pools, on the banks of the river Avon in Bath, is the UK’s only surviving Georgian lido. The Cleveland Pools Trust are currently raising money to match Heritage Lottery funding to restore it to its former glory – so watch this space.