Shillingford Lido – and a whole lot of others too
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When the sun pelts down like this there’s only one thing for it – a lido. As usual we set off too late and by the time we arrived at Wallingford’s Riverside outdoor pool, the overflow car park was overflowing and we needed Plan B.
That Plan B was the Shillingford Bridge Hotel pool (above) which, if you’ve driven past it, you’ll know is on a very pretty corner of Shillingford countryside. It’s across the road from the so-so hotel itself, next to a bridge, right by the Thames and the houseboats and river cruisers, and framed by weeping willows. Really, its about as civilised as an outdoor pool facility can get. Even the occasional noise of cars going round the corner doesn’t spoil the fun.
It’s supposed to be a fiver to swim in the pool if you’re not a guest, but there was no one there to take our money when we arrived. I think the managment are missing a massive trick really, as there seemed to be a lot of local mums and kids down at the pool making the most of the sun. That’s a lot of lost fivers. If it was my hotel, I’d create a cool pop up bar for the summer months, add a BBQ and some really good music and then pretend I was in LA, haha! But even without the California treatment, it’s a lovely spot and the kids really enjoyed it. Please be aware that there’s no lifeguard and the pool is not heated, but it’s amazing how well you cope once you’ve lost all feeling in your legs. Oh alright, I’m exaggerating a teeny bit – I did manage to have a brisk, hyperventilating swim, though my littlies screamed to get out.
A very long PS…
As I was writing this post, I suddenly started wondering about other outdoor pools. So without having tried them myself, here are the ones I’ve found in Bucks & Oxon. Jump in and have a go and whether they’re terrific or terrible let us know.
1. Chippy Lido. Number one on my must-try list. This lido has been run by Chipping Norton locals as a charity since 2004 and its sounds like they are doing an incredible job. Open until 9 September, it has a heated 25m pool and toddler pool, slide and café, plus for newly renovated changing rooms for 2012. Jeremy Clarkson is involved somehow. Not sure if that’s good or bad.
2. Abbey Meadows Outdoor Pool, Abingdon. Inflatable play sessions, sun loungers, a kiosk, and an enviable position down by the river make this pool a compelling choice. It’s an easy stroll into central Abingdon from here. My mum and dad religiously eat at the local Italian restaurant Bella Napoli (29 Broad Street, 01235 537676) so I can vouch for that, but there’s also an Ask and Pizza Express if you have kids in tow.
3. Wycombe Rye Lido. WOW! I didn’t know this existed. Sometimes things just pass you by… This lido was reopened in 2011 with a sports studio, tennis court and cafe and really looks the biz. It’s a 10 minutes walk from the railway station if you don’t want to risk the limited parking. Wycombe Park (National Trust) and the Eden Shopping Centre are both close by.
The Rye, off Bassetsbury Lane, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, HP11 1QX. Tel: 01494 769472
4. Woodstock Open Air Pool. This is run by Nexus Leisure so it’s unlikely to be superflash, but it boasts a 25m heated pool, plus toddler pool, diving board, and a large grassed picnic area. Great to know it exists – perfect for a cooling off after a day at Blenheim.
Shipton Road, Woodstock, Oxfordshire, OX20 1LW. Reception: 01993 811 785
5. Banbury Lido. This Olympic-sized 50m heated pool reopened in 2009 at a cost of £1.5m, with decking, a flume, slides, diving boards and snack kiosk. Sounds good!
Woodgreen Leisure Centre, Woodgreen Avenue, Banbury, Oxfordshire OX16 0AT. Tel: 01295 262742
6. Chesham Moor Gym & Swim, Buckinghamshire. This outdoor pool is basic from the look of it, with a large paved surround and cafe attached. You won’t be going for the views but if it’s outdoor swimming you want, outdoor swimming you’ll get.
7. Oxford Hinksey Pool. Not much information to go on, but the pool has been onsite since 1934, and there’s a cafe attached. It’s run by Oxford City Council and Fusion as a charity.
Hinksey Park, Lake Street, Oxford OX1 4RP. Tel: 01865 467079 / 252826