This summer may still be looking like a bit of a washout, but a drop of rain isn’t about to stop hardy Londoners from freezing their gonads off in the untamed wilderness. Well, leafy Beckenham, anyway.
City-dwellers hungry for their alfresco swim fix now have a new expanse of chilly open water to throw their shivering bods into. Move aside the Serpentine and Hampstead Ponds, Beckenham Place Park, the Borough of Lewisham’s largest green space, is officially London’s newest wild swimming spot. Only technically, it’s pretty ancient.
The park has re-filled its lost Georgian lake, which was originally created by Beckenham Place Mansion’s former resident John Cator in 1800 before being filled in sometime in the twentieth century. Now, the lagoon has been brought back to its former glory, thanks to a £4.9 million project to restore the rather faded space.
The first purpose-built open-water hangout in the city extends a whopping 285m by 48m and is 3.5m at its deepest point. Swimmers will have to book in advance and pay electronically before taking the plunge from the jetty, but a beach area will be free to use for paddling. There’s also a brand new café for post-swim snacks and the chance to try kayaking and other water sports on the new lake. The swimming spot will be open all year round, with lifeguards and changing facilities in the summer.
After being filled slowly from a natural borehole over the last few months, the lake is finally full and will be officially opened on Saturday July 20.
To celebrate, the park is throwing a free launch party complete with food stalls, bars, live music, Georgian dancing, boating activities, a classic car display and a vintage sale in the park’s gorgeous mansion.
You’ll also be able to explore the park’s new wet woodland, which it is hoped will be a brand new ecological environment for London’s wildlife.
If you need us, we’ll be spending the summer smuggling peanuts in south east London, thank you!
Beckenham Place Park swimming lake opens on Sat Jul 20.
Get your summer swim on at these wild swimming spots and lidos near London.
Find more great things to do this month in our July calendar.