Highgate Ponds - fresh water swimming with a view of the city
Heath, near East Heath nw3
020 7332 3773; www.cityoflondon.gov.uk
Open from May to mid-September.
For directions go to www.journeyplanner.org.
A personal favourite with visitors in the summer are the ponds at Highgate. It surprises out-of-towners who have suffered a hot day of London tubes and stress that you can swim in fresh water in the open air—with a view over the City. There are three ponds: men’s and women’s and mixed (the water ﬂows through the women’s ﬁrst!), and in late summer the temperature is delightful. The atmosphere is very relaxed; it is not at all “naturist.” Indeed, the mix is indicative of London’s cultural diversity: Orthodox Jews with their ringlets pinned up; old, young, ﬁt, and unﬁt. The women’s pond, I’m told, is rather more sociable.
I recommend the stiff walk back up the hill to theFlask Tavern (77 West Highgate Hill n6, 020 8348 7346), a Georgian pub at Highgate Village; if it is getting cold by then, they have braziers outside.
Ian Kelly is an actor and writer. His publications include Shakespeare Cinema.