Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds

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Hampstead heath Pond  (Britta Jaschinski / Time Out)
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Highgate Pond	 (Mockford & Bonetti / Time Out)
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Originally dammed-off clay pits, the ponds are run by the City of London Corporation. It is consulting with local residents about essential works to protect against flooding, which – though unlikely – could be catastrophic if a large quantity of rain fell over an extended period. In the meantime, the three pools remain open to ladies, men and mixed groups (including accompanied children aged eight-15, at the lifeguards’ discretion) respectively. The Men’s and Ladies’ Ponds are open all year round but to use the Mixed Pond in the winter season you must join the Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club. Even in the summer the water is chilly.

Take a dip at more of London's lidos and public swimming pools

Posted:

Venue name: Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds
Contact:
Address: Hampstead Heath
London
NW5 1QR
Opening hours: Open year-round: Men's and Ladies' Ponds 7am-8.30pm summer, winter (Sept-Mar) times vary; Mixed Ponds 7am-6.30pm daily, Weds in July until 8.30pm. Times are subject to adjustment due to daylight hours, see website for details
Transport: Tube: Kentish Town; Bus: then C2, 214 bus
Price: £2, concs £1
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Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:11
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|15
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tastemaker

My favourite park in the Summer. It's hard to believe how big it is, and then the ponds just make it irresistible. Clean and fresh water, perfect to dive in and forget you're in the city!

tastemaker

Splash! Hampstead Heath's swimming ponds are the perfect way too cool off on a hot summers day. Whether or not you're going to the mixed or gender specific ponds they all leave you feeling soothed and cool. I have to repeat the word cool as they are particularly cold due to being natural water, however in summer there is literally nothing else you would want to do. Furthermore, being able to swim in natural water rather than the chemically water we are used to makes a real difference to the swimming experience. You feel refreshed and calm in the idyllic setting of these beautiful ponds as you share water with like minded swimmers and the occasional duck. I would definitely recommend this as a day out or just a way to destress in the sunshine as Hampstead heath is beautiful and we as Londoners are very lucky to have a natural place to bath in during the sunny months. 

Tastemaker

(The review is for Kenwood Ladies' Pond)

There's a part of me that was slightly incredulous to see a sign in all seriousness stating “No men are allowed”. It kind of goes against all the things we as a society have been trying to achieve. You know, inclusiveness, gender equality, eliminating the pay gap. Yet a bigger part of my enjoyed the experience tremendously. There’s something to be said about the sense of serenity and being with the women and not worrying about what anyone else thinks. The women around me catching the rays of the fickle London sun were mostly of a strong willed and confident variety, celebrating being with their girls. And yes, quite a few of them were sunbathing topless. 

But importantly the pond itself is just great! This being a natural pond, you can’t really expect the transparency of larger bodies of water, but it's well maintained and boasts engaged lifeguards, decent facilities and even a place to park bikes. You will be swimming with the ducks (they are so used to the people they won't even bulge when you approach them), under the canopy of the trees (heavenly during the heatwave we've experienced earlier in July) and within reach of water lilies.

It’s a longish walk across the heath from any public transport stop so bring water and refreshments. 

During busy times you might queue a bit to enter the water, but there's a designated area from where they let you dive (or in my case jump feet first) in. The child inside me was super happy!

Oh, and there are vegetable patches at the back that add to the community feel.



I love this place. It is beautiful and magical. I would give it 5 stars, however, there are no lockers. Therefore I have to rely on going with someone to look after my stuff. This is such a shame because I would go more often if I could. Why can't management sort itself out and put some lockers on site? I am not going to leave my stuff unattended. Please sort this out because it is such a wonderful place. I love it so much and I want to go more often! 

tastemaker

This place is my favorite park. Reason why is that it have so many good spot to chill out, where you actually can feel that you are out of the  city. The pond in Hampstead Heath,  where you can take a swim.  its great on a sunny day take a dip then getting up and sunbathe.  The water though is a bit cold, but you will get used to it.  A good idea to go, for a picnic or just if you need a chill day "out of the city". 

tastemaker

The ponds on Hapstead Heath are a great opportunity to relax and unwind, and a cooling swim on a boiling hot day is just the ticket. Swimming pools in London are nice but can become expensive and swimming in the open air for a nominal fee, under the trees can be suprisingly nice. The water is chilly, even on a summers day, but jumping straight in sorts that out right away. In the men's pond there is a diving board that is well used and it is a great place to come with friends for an afternoon outing. #bringapicnic


Beautiful setting and a great swimming experience. The water is cold and murky - I couldn't see my hand once it was about 3 or 4 inches under the surface and there are leaves, twigs and feathers floating on the surface.   This is a world away from your local chlorinated swimming pool.   Amazingly refreshing on a hot summer day and wonderful to look up at white clouds in a blue sky as you swim.   The pond is enclosed on 3 sides by trees that come down to the bank and is around 7 feet deep in the middle with a bottom of squishy, oozy mud and weeds.  I reckon it's around 50m long and about 30m wide 

The lifeguards were alert and professional - always a bonus when you consider the bad visibility of the water.

Unfortunately, the facility is badly let down by poor management - the door to the men's changing area was hanging off its hinges.   There are NO LOCKERS to store your stuff securely so you just have to leave it on the bank whilst you swim.   There really is no excuse for this - there is plenty of room in the changing area for a bank of 100 or so lockers and it shows a lazy "couldn't care less" attitude of whoever runs the facilities.   Also, the payment system isn't rigorously enforced - there is an unmanned ticket machine by the entrance that only accepts coins, but you could just as easily walk straight in without paying - goodness knows how much money the council have lost - I paid, but I wonder how many others didn't bother ?  

Perhaps if the management sorted this out, they'd collect more money (it's a bargain at only £2 entry !) which they could use to pay for a bank of lockers...!

I'll be back as the swimming was lovely - but I'll be leaving my wallet and mobile phone at home until they sort out the locker situation...


i go to the hamstead heath ponds pretty much every day now, it is an amazingly icey shock to the system, but, in my opinon it is the most refreshing way to start a hot day

Staff Writer

Bad luck boys, the Hampstead Ladies Pond is undoubtedly one of the prettiest spots in the whole of London. If you're not used to the whole wild swimming thing prepare yourself for a bit of a shock when first entering, when I went in early June it was still take-your-breath-away cold and required some ferocious paddling to warm up. But regardless it's an absolute delight - moor hens paddling around, an abundance of wild flowers and a picturesque meadow for sunbathing. Ahh London you really can be quite divine in the summertime.


A wonderful escape from manic city life.Having just moved here from a seaside town and year round seaswimming,I was finding my first week of London life a bit overwhelming.But walking down the path to the Ladies' Pond was like discovering a portal to another universe!The water was velvety and refreshing,the trees surrounding the pond cocoon you in green and the odd duck comes bobbing by! I thought I saw rubbish floating on the water surface but on approach,realised it was a feather.Fabulous.Winter pond swimming here I come!


There is nothing better than escaping the London hubbub by going swimming in an urban lake. Hampstead Heath is idyllic enough but the ponds themselves are on another level. Ignore the colour of the water though mind. The mixed pools cost a few pounds to attend. If you are lucky, you might even get to sit next to a celebrity in their swimming cozzie (Rupert Friend in my case...).


A truly unique experience. Swimming in a pond in the middle of London is pretty unusual. The murkiness of the pond was slightly off-putting and made my bathers brown, though it washed out after.