Loving Hinskey Lido – check it out!
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Well that was a surprise. I tried the Hinksey Lido in central Oxford a few days ago for my little spot on Radio Oxford, and didn’t have any great expectations, but well, well, well, it’s just FAB. Not least because it’s heated (thank God), but also because it has so much else to offer as well.
The lido is about a 10 minute walk from the centre of Oxford, past the Head of the River, and I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I never, ever came here as a student (though I’m hoping it’s because it was closed then, or was falling into decrepitude or something).
As you can see from these pics the lido is enormous. Two distinct parts, one with lanes for adults, the other a gentle shelf into deeper water for kids, shallow enough for my 4 year old to stand on his tippie toes and scream as the water fountains switch on and off.
Where the grass starts on the side of the photo above, is a large grassed area that until recently was just a huge expanse of concrete. This year over 2500 tonnes of soil was dumped there to replace it, and it’s created a really relaxed sitting/sunbathing area where as a parent you can watch your kids in the pool in front of you, and also keep an eye on toddlers to the side where there’s a spouty fountainy ashfelt area.
There’s also a small shop which they oversell as a cafe with dozens of ice lollies and icecreams, plus some food that I was too scared to try. Maybe you’ll be braver.
One of the things I liked about the Lido was its faintly hippyish vibe, which came mostly I suppose from the fact that its Butlins-meets-Swiss-municipal-pool changing rooms are wooden and outside, and people have to trust others not to nick their stuff from the side of the pool. Unless – like your cynical ex-Londoner – they rent a £5 locker. Oh come on, old habits die hard!
So the lido is great and the kids will love it and for Oxford it feels like a stress-free drive too, as there’s onsite parking, with a reasonably priced pay and display car park down the side of the kids playground at the roadside.
The other great thing about this place is its position – very close to central Oxford (a few minutes down past the Head of the River pub) if you wanted to walk in for lunch or dinner or a walk in Christchurch Meadow, but sitting within in its own lovely park, with two lakes
…four tennis courts (free by the way), a couple of table tennis tables, a grassed area for throwing balls or running around…
… an allotment (closed to us, but still very visible with male and female scarecrow, below), and also a dedicated cycle track around the outside of the park.
Seriously, on a sunny day you could spend at least half a day here. Probably more. Give it a go and let me know what you think.
But if you’re nowhere near Oxford but still want to enjoy dipping your toes in an outdoor pool, Hinksey is of course not your only option. How about making a splash at Wycombe Rye lido (High Wycombe) – a fantastic, cool lido I’ve reviewed previously on Muddy; Shillingford pool or Wallingford Lido; Chipping Norton lido; Banbury Lido and Woodstock outdoor pool; and Chesham outdoor pool…
Hinksey Lido: Adults £5.90; Children (16 and under) £3.80; Family (2 adults and 3 children) . Lake Street, Off Abingdon Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 4RP. Tel: 0844 893 3222