There’s no point pretending: Summer was a washout this year. But finally, in the first week of autumn no less, the weather becomes incredibly beautiful in Bristol. And for what will likely be the last hot week of 2023, we’re going to struggle to resist throwing ourselves into the nearest body of water. The one thing missing from the city centre is an outdoor pool, but there are plenty of places across Bristol and beyond that have outdoor swimming spots. Whether you’re looking for the comforts of a lido or a lake for some wild swimming, take a dip here…
1. Portishead Open Air Pool
Portishead Open Air Pool is a 33m heated pool which boasts views of the Bristol Channel from its sun terraces. Quite the suntrap, you can swap a holiday abroad for this coastal open-air pool on a hot summer’s day where you’ll witness the sun sparkling on the pool and channel beyond. Portishead Open Air Pool also features a paddling pool, a separate lane specifically for serious swimmers, and a community-run café selling coffees and snacks to enjoy post-swim. Click here for more information.
Portishead Open Air Pool, The Esplanade, Portishead, BS20 7HD
2. Henleaze Swimming Club
Since 1919, Henleaze Swimming Club has offered open water swimming, springboarding or high diving in the beautiful surroundings of North Bristol. The swimming area varies throughout the year, however, from 70 metres in the winter to 220 metres in high summer. And there’s even a sauna to warm up in before or after you swim! You will need a membership to visit though, with a 50-metre swimming test required for membership. Learn more here.
Henleaze Lake, Lake Road, Henleaze, BS10 5HG
3. Warleigh Weir
A stunning free outdoor swimming spot in Bath, the sun-trapped Warleigh Weir is great for both swimming and paddling. There’s plenty of space for everyone and, surrounded by greenery, it also makes for a great place to walk before or after. The Warleigh Weir Project is currently trying to turn the River Avon into Designated Bathing Waters. (Aiming to become the first UK river site to achieve designated bathing water status.)
Warleigh Weir, Ferry Ln, Claverton, Bath BA2 7BH
4. Saltford Weir
If you take the bike path out of Bristol, you should be able to find this secluded spot near The Jolly Sailor. (Check out these riverside pubs between Bristol and Bath.) You’ll not only find a place for a refreshing wild swim at Saltford Weir but somewhere for a picnic. Make a big splash with rope swings too!
The Shallows, Saltford, Bristol BS31
5. Clifton Lido
Just a stone’s throw away from the city centre, Bristol is blessed with its own fancy lido for outdoor swimming, tucked away in the heart of Clifton. The refurbished Victorian outdoor pool features a sauna, outdoor hot tub, steam room, spa treatments, bar and restaurant, plus a glass frontage so that you can have a nosey at the peaceful pool action. It’s open throughout the year, with the water heated to 22-25°C – so not too shudder-worthy but certainly enough to wake you up. Click here for more information.
Clifton Lido, Oakfield Place, Clifton, BS8 2BJ
6. Farleigh & District Swimming Club
Founded in 1933, Farleigh & District Swimming Club is one of the oldest wild swimming clubs in the country. It offers swimming in the silky waters of the River Frome at Farleigh Hungerford, with entry to the water just above an old stone weir. The swimming area might be rather chilly in contrast to lidos but it features a wooden diving platform with ropes, parking by the meadows, plus an open-air changing stall and Portaloo. Membership is required and can be paid online and costs only £12 for adults for the year. Click here for more information.
Farleigh & District Swimming Club, four miles west of Trowbridge at BA2 7RS
7. Wotton Outdoor Pool
Located on the border of The Cotswolds, Wotton Outdoor Pool is 18m long by 6m wide, and the depths go from 1m to just over 2m. With the water heated to 28-30°C, we cannot complain as it makes for a very pleasant swim. In colder weather, a retractable roof is pulled over the pool and then drawn back for open-air swimming when the sun decides to make an appearance. There are separate male and female changing rooms, toilets and hot showers and a car park nearby. Click here for more information.
Wotton Outdoor Pool, Symm Lane, Wotton under Edge, GL12 7BD
8. Clevedon Marine Lake
This tidal infinity pool filled with seawater, is about as close as you can get to the sea without actually stepping in it. Situated on the Somerset coast, Clevedon Marine Lake is filled with seawater from the Bristol Channel every spring tide and offers a safe place to swim, play and boat on the coast. Free to visit (although donations are welcomed) and open all-year-round, its a pretty unique outdoor swimming spot near Bristol. Find out more here.
Clevedon Marine Lake, 170 Old Church Rd, Clevedon BS21 7TU
9. Shepton Mallet Lido
For those who don’t fancy roughing it in a lake, Shepton Mallet Lido offers swimming in its open-air heated pool usually between May and September. Nestled south towards Wells, the pool is just less than an hour’s drive from Bristol, but offers the comfort of swimming in chlorinated water and plenty of fun with a bunting-clad pool and beach hut designs. Click here for more information.
Shepton Mallet Lido, Shaftsgate Avenue, Shepton Mallet, BA4 5YA
10. Cotswold Country Park & Beach
Did you know the UK’s largest inland sandy beach is less than an hour’s drive from Bristol? The sandy shores at Cotswold Country Park & Beach surround freshwater lakes. Ideal for a refreshing swim or building epic sandcastles! Three beaches are made up of the Main Beach for serious swimmers, a Paddling Lagoon for playing, and a Mini Children’s Beach Lagoon for little ‘uns. There’s plenty more available too, which you can learn more about here. Entrance costs upwards of £3.50 per person and is open throughout the summer months.
Cotswold Country Park & Beach, Spratsgate Ln, Shorncote, Cirencester GL7 6DF