On my birthday this year, RBJ and I spent the morning at the lido on Tooting Bec Common. Considering we are less than a 10 minute walk from the lido, I am surprised it took us this long to go but we timed it well and visited on a beautiful sunny weekday in August, with blue skies and very few children.
I often go running on Tooting Bec Common so I have run past the Lido car park entrance before. However I imagine if you didn’t know where it was, it could be a bit tricky to find, located in the south-east corner of the common and totally concealed by trees. We paid the £6.70 entrance fee, giving us unlimited access to the pool and its facilities for the day. After 6pm this reduces to £4.10 and children and over 65’s have access at any time for £4.10 .
The lido is over 100 years old and is a real work of art: the pool itself is 94m long – over three times the length of your average pool and it is the largest outdoor freshwater pool in England. Running along both sides of the pool are beautiful wee retro multi-coloured changing huts, added to the complex in the 1930s, along with the infamous lido cafe. The changing huts are quite small and there are now larger, modern changing rooms for families to use if they so wish.
Even in the August sun, the water was seriously nippy at a fresh 19 degrees.I’m not going to lie – it took us AAAAAGES to get in the pool because it was so cold. And then the pool was so long that I only managed 4 lengths before my arms felt like they were going to fall off (I forgot how tiring swimming is). We spent the rest of our morning laying in the sun and warming up.
I have since discovered that people do swim in the lido all year round, however it is only open to the public from May to September and those wanting to swim outside of those months, need to be a member of the South London Swimming Club. Considering how cold I found it in August, I think I will stick to being a fair-weather lido swimmer!
IN THREE WORDS: RETRO, CHILLY, COMMUNITY
For more information on Tooting Bec Lido and its facilities go to: www.wandsworth.gov.uk/info/644/leisure_centres_and_facilities/402/tooting_bec_lido