I love outdoor swimming – whether it be in a lake, pond, river, reservoir or pool, if it’s open air I’m into it. London boasts a surprising amount of quality outdoor swimming – from Parliament Hill lido to Hampstead ponds there are plenty of options to cool off on a hot day.
My new favourite spot for this is the West reservoir centre. Not only does this large reservoir in North London boast good quality water (apparently, it used to supply drinking water to the whole of Hackney), it is also an absolutely stunning place to go for a dip. It’s huge – it has a 750m perimeter loop for the serious swimmers – and offers the surreal experience of swimming through silky clean water surrounded by reeds, birds and tower blocks. Walking to the café in Woodberry wetlands for a post-swim snack tops the whole experience off.
Now, this is not the easiest spot to visit if you’re only in London for a few days. In order to swim there, you need to book an induction for which you need to wear a wetsuit. In addition, there are only three swimming sessions a week. However, if you’re sticking around for more than a week and the weather’s warm, it’s all worth it. For the rest of the week the reservoir hosts a variety of water-based sports – from sailing to paddle-board yoga (very Hackney) – so if those float your boat (excuse the pun) then it’s worth wandering down.