Navigation Content Activities in the Peak District

Hathersage Open-Air Swimming Pool

Owned and run by Hathersage Parish Council, built in 1936, but refurbished and re-launched in 2008, everything about this place has a charming, local feel about it.

Most people’s memories of open-air swimming pools are shiver-inducing.  Like flat-roofed buildings, they were something that seemed to belong to the 1930’s when, from the popular memory of our grandparents, the country basked in a succession of “long hot summers”.  In later decades we woke up to the fact that such Mediterranean dreams were a little unrealistic and more easily fulfilled by hopping on a cheap flight to Spain.  Up and down the country open-air swimming pools, or lido’s as they were trendily known, began to fall into disrepair and then close, faster than you could say “Taramasalata”.

Meanwhile, on hot summer days at least, adventurous types continued to throw themselves into rivers, lakes and harbours, drawn magnetically by the pull of water in a natural setting.  It is a very basic impulse.  Most of us have since grown rather soft; comfortably used to seawater temperatures in the mid-twenties Celsius, and crystal-clear water.

So, what have those clever people at Hathersage done?  Noted all of the above and given us exactly what we crave; a swimming experience amidst some beautiful natural scenery, with the atmosphere and relaxed attitude of a bygone era and, most importantly, WARM WATER.  The temperature is advertised as 29 degrees C. and they really mean it.

As public swimming tickets go, it is not cheap at £5.50 for an adult, (no increase on 2012 prices) but once inside, it feels well worth it and how refreshing to be able to leave your stuff sitting on the grass, while you enjoy a swim, without the usual struggle with lockers, baskets and coins.  It is probably not a good idea to take items of value with you, but the place is well staffed with very watchful life guards who, in keeping with the general atmosphere of the place, are so cheery you expect them to have Australian accents.  If it is a nice day, you’ll want to spend much longer than the usual half-an-hour visit to your local pool; you can sit on the grass or on a chair and read the paper; take a picnic, or buy something at the café next door where a takeaway food service is available to the poolside, including hot snacks, cakes,drinks, sweets and ice-creams.  With all that in mind, it seems great value.  If you have kids with you, just through a side gate is the local park with good play equipment to suit every age.

If it is not a very nice day, with the water this warm, it does not matter too much; in fact it must be fun and kind of snug.  They have photographs from April 2008, when the place was newly re-opened, of people swimming in the snow.  Forget the med, this is more like a scene from Reykjavik.  Everyone looks happy enough, assuming that those are not frozen smiles.  There are covered areas and seating to protect your belongings from the rain/hail/snow and good hot showers to rinse the chlorinated water off, (though the outside one did seem to be offering only cold water when I visited).

On getting into the water you’ll notice a few other plus points; it is a good size of pool, meaning that adults can swim away from the mayhem in the shallow end; it is very relaxing to swim on one’s back and gaze up at paragliders taking off from the edge above; and, hold on a minute, “mayhem”?  The mayhem is strangely quiet, as all of those hard, shiny surfaces and glass roofs, that turn your average swim on a Saturday morning into a kind of aural torture session, are completely absent.  Bliss.

If you become really addicted, you can buy a season ticket, (and there are daily sessions for “season ticket holders only”) but you would need to visit at least twice a week during the April to September season to make this worthwhile.

Hathersage village itself, a short walk away, has plenty more to offer; go and visit Little John’s Grave in the village churchyard; The Scotsman’s Pack and The Little John are just two of the public houses offering excellent food and ales; you could end up making a complete day of it.

For prices and timetable please visit the website

2013 Season
23rd March to 28th September.

Hathersage Swimming Pool,
Oddfellows Road,
Hope Valley
S32 1DU
Phone: 01433 650843

Simon Corble