It is my ultimate dream to own a house with an outdoor pool. I will use it for a maximum of 7 days in any one year and my husband has tried to convince me that indoor is king but NO. I want an outdoor pool, damnit! No matter how unreasonable that may be in rainy England.
Since that’s not on the cards anytime soon I fixated on finding local hotels with outdoor facilities (of which there are NONE) and eventually happened upon LIDOS. I had no idea this was a thing but they are all over the country! The closest one to us is about an hour and a half away in Ilkley and today I finally convinced the whole family to take the trip. We set off early, I picked up picnic supplies, we packed the rubber ring, I was excited. There was traffic. A lot of traffic. Then there were awkward country lanes but suddenly.. it was sign posted, we were finally there… as was the rest of Yorkshire.
I knew it would be busy but I just never anticipated this level of crowd. We queued for 20 minutes just to get in (it’s a leisure centre, effectively so they’re just not equipped for hundreds of customers rocking up on a Saturday morning) and when we finally got through…. the people. so. many. people.
When I first suggested we visit my husband made a joke about the images he’s seen of old school outdoor pools with standing room only. I scoffed. I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t quite that mad but by the time we were leaving they were at full capacity and operating a one in/one out system. They separated the pool in to ‘kids’ (very shallow) where anything went and ‘swimmers’ (deep and people were successfully doing laps, relatively undisturbed) so that helped but it’s unheated so you have to be hardy or it has to be a HOT day.. which it was.
We took a blanket and some towels and settled on the grass to snack and sunbathe with frequent breaks to float in the pool. It didn’t feel like England but it did. It’s not luxurious, the changing/toilet facilities were grim (I can’t blame the staff because there were just so many people and teenagers are gross) but it was red hot and we were in an OUTDOOR POOL! Everyone was happy and excited, the kids, the adults, we’d all driven however far, queued in that stupid queue, changed in those changing rooms and we were all excited to be there.
Maybe we’d all managed our expectations ahead of time but I think it’s just so rare to get a Saturday afternoon by a pool in your home country on a day like today and we were grateful. Would we go again. YES! It was a b*tch to get to but it offered something we’ve never experienced before. On the way home we were discussing a mini break somewhere in the school holidays to take advantage of what is gearing up to be a really nice summer. It reminded us that there’s more to see in England than the inside of shopping centres and restaurants and that when the sun in shining we should get out and enjoy it.
Here are a list of other Lidos you could check out while the weather’s fine
*we actually visited Bude last year and it’s top of the list of places we want to revisit in the Summer