Lido Love No.9 Hampstead Ponds
On Friday I was planning which of the remaining Lido’s I should visit over the weekend when I found out it was the last day the mixed pond on Hampstead Heath was open this year. It was also the day I found out that over 5,000 crayfish are nipping the swimmers, like a fishy version of The Warriors they are vicious and marking their territory.
Now my reaction to this surprised no one more than it did me. The news of the crayfish settled it for me. I was heading to Hampstead Heath this weekend. The reason is simple. I just wanted to prove to myself that I am braver now than I was a year ago. I know what I’d have spent my Sunday this time last year doing and this would never have even entered my brain. I’d have never been jumping in to swim amongst nasty critters in them waters my friend, I’d have been voted least likely to in a poll in fact.
On Sunday I had a text from my friend saying “Please tell me you’re not in the pond you nutter?” I replied with mild hysteria after I had got out saying I AM BRAVE. All capitals.
I won’t lie to you, I was screaming inside and my imagination was in overdrive, picturing tons of little red angry crustaceans following the kick of my legs, the Jaws theme playing on a loop as fat raindrops plopped on my swimming cap. But I done it.
Both the men’s and ladies pools remain open all year so you can still swim there throughout the year, to swim in this specific pond you need to belong to Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club. It’s a bargain £2 and I like the machine you use to pay, like a parking meter for swimmers. The water was warm, best time of year for freshwater swimming. I felt drier and warmer in the water than out of it given the torrential rain that’s hit us. The thing is, if you can get over the critters, Hampstead Heath is fraying at the edges as we turn to Autumn, ragged and serene. It was a rather beautiful moment in my swimming quest.
|Temperature:||Warm. Best time of year for freshwater swimming|
|People doing serious swimming:||Just me|
|Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot:||0|
|Women swimming in sunglasses:||0|
|Kids doing classic “bombing”:||0|
|People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand:||0|
But the five-star reward goes solely to me for doing it.