Since moving to London I’ve hoped there would be the perfect day to visit the Hampstead Heath mixed pond. Being able to swim in natural water sources is something that, as a South African, I am very privileged to view as part of my life. Summer simply can’t be ending without a dip.
Most of the time the weather doesn’t really allow for a perfect swimming day, especially on a weekend, but this past bank holiday weekend it finally happened! With a balmy 28°C and a Monday off it was the perfect time to hit the ponds.
We were slightly nervous about it. Will it be warm enough, will it be clean, will it be serious swimmers only?!
10 Things you need to know:
- Is it clean? YES. Now, I’m not saying drink the water, but it’s really clean and well kept. There are open showers that you can rinse off after your swim so no need to stress.
- Is the water warm? On the day we went, YES. It was 20°C! However, with it being a natural source of water and outdoors it obviously can get really cold in winter. Check out this helpful site to see temperatures of the past 18 months for all three ponds (men, female and mixed). A fair amount of people was swimming with wetsuits which weren’t really necessary on this particular day but I can tell it can come in handy.
- Is there somewhere to change? YES. It’s very basic but you don’t need anything else. There is also a toilet (male and female sperate).
- What time do you need to go? EARLY. We got there at 10:30 and just managed to find a spot to soak up the sun.
- Is there space to lay out in the sun? BARELY. The one thing that is missing is enough space to relax in the sun right next to the pond. However, you can simply find a spot in the rest of the park and just pop in and out of the pond as you wish. It’s very relaxed and I noticed a few people doing it.
- How much does it cost? On the day we went there wasn’t anyone collecting money but I have read that generally there is a £2 entrance fee. A very small price to pay.
- Can you take inflatables? NO, your trendy white floaty swan is not allowed.
- Can I take food and drinks? YES. You can take any food and drinks into the area but you can’t swim with anything.
- Are there lifesavers? YES. They also act as somewhat of a pond police telling people to not leave their shoes next to the ladder, etc. Your kids will be in safe hands.
- Are dogs allowed? NOT REALLY. People who go for a quick dip (I’m assuming as part of their morning run) tied their dogs to the gates at the entrance. Some dogs were ok with this, but for the most part, the pups looked really sad. Make sure your dog will be ok with this as lots of people walk past them and some dogs got really ‘outspoken’ about being left alone by their owners *sad face*.
How to get there:
We took the Overground to Hampstead Heath from where it’s a short 8 min walk to the ponds. Check out the City of London site for more directions.
I loved that it is not about looking cool, or sexy or showing off. It is a family friendly, very relaxing just-be-yourself kind of hang out spot. I finally had a perfect summer day in the middle of London!
As summer is coming to an end I’m so happy that we managed to visit Hampstead Heath and as soon as there is another opportunity (with the sun being a sneaky one in London) we’ll be going back! The best thing is you can be impulsive with this one. No need to book. No need to plan your transport. Just wait for a sunny day and off you go.