A beginner’s guide to…Parliament Hill Lido

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It turns 80 this year. And this is the weekend to jump in – even if it’s your first time

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What: This lovely Grade II-listed lido, in case you didn’t realise, first opened back in 1938. Designed by the same team who did similar benign things to Victoria Park and Brockwell Park, this year it celebrates its milestone 80th birthday.

Where: Right next to Gospel Oak Overground. Y’know the score: take a left as you leave the station, and another by Mutt Hutt – and you’re there. The majesty of the art deco building shouldn’t be lost on you, especially set against a deep blue spring sky.

Bask like a lizard before or after. Photos: SE

I’ve never been. Talk me through it. Well, the unheated pool is mahoosive, 61 x 27 metres, and one of only three London lidos to be open all year round (the others are Brockwell and Tooting Bec). But be warned: until May 5th, it’s only open from 7am to midday; after that it’s swimmable till 8pm. Oh, and the shallow end is on the western side, while the deep end reaches two metres. Be careful.

Can I dive? No: after the death of a boy back in the mid 1970s, most of the diving boards were removed, with the last one taken down in 2003.


How much is it? £4 a pop in the winter season (ie at the moment). In the summer it’s £4 a session (morning or evening) and £7 a day. There are also monthly (£48), seasonal (£136) and annual (£200) tickets. And of course all the money gets poured back into the lido.

How warm is the water now? On our visit today it was a positively balmy 15 degrees – although it still feels a bit nippy when you jump in. But it’s damn invigorating – and you can sun yourself on the steps afterwards. Tip: check on Twitter each morning as they post the water temperature @lidoPH.

The Lido Cafe serves locally sourced food and coffee. Photo: SE

I’m not a great swimmer. Is it intimidating? Not at all. Of course there are serious front-crawlers, heads down, swimcaps on, but there are also lots of locals enjoying the resource. Having fun, even. Like we were.

Is there a cafe? Yup, and it’s really nice now. Decent Square Mile coffee, home-made brownies and other delectables, plus avo-led brunches and lunches of falafel and salads. And you can lounge on the terrace and watch the swimmers go by.

Did you know? At £34,000, it was the most expensive of the art deco lidos to be built in the capital.

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The Lido, Heath Lodge, Parliament Hill NW5 is open daily 7am to midday, until May 5th. Then it’s open 7am till 8pm until 23rd Sept. More info here

Look out for our feature on the lido’s ‘whistling wall’, out in the new print issue tomorrow.

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