The summer is still with us, the seas and lochs continue to warm up. Everyone seems to be going on about wild swimming – though last month's tragic deaths are a reminder that our waters can be dangerous. But what if you like your dipping a bit less wild? What if you like an outdoor swim, but without the possible threats of waves, rip tides or mysterious depths. Well, it turns out that Scotland has more than you might imagine to offer. Heated seawater lidos, tidal pools, infinity pools, lagoons, supervised loch swims and even a swimming bath that is a work of art. Dip

Gourock outdoor pool

Albert Road, Gourock, Inverclyde

This iconic heated outdoor pool is Scotland’s oldest lido and it can feel on a sunny day like the French Riviera. There, you can enjoy open air swimming at a constant temperature of 29C, whilst taking in the spectacular views of the Clyde estuary. No wonder it was recently listed as one of the top five lidos in the UK.

The lido was opened in 1909, its water heating system installed in 1969, and in recent years it has been refurbished with modern changing facilities, a pool terrace, improved disabled access on street level parking. You can even book to join one of their starlight swims.

Among its fans is Janey Godley, who frequently tweets her love of the lido, and has even, on a sunny day, described the view as like Lake Como. Just remember, before you dive in or take a dook with your eyes wide open –this is a saltwater pool and it could leave you spluttering.

For more information, and to book, see

Pittenween tidal pool

Pittenweem, Fife

A dip in the sea, without the danger of being swept away by a wave – that’s the lure of a tidal pool. It may not be quite back to its original glory, but Pittenweem has been a trailblazer in the trend towards restoring old tidal pools and following £270,000 of work, officially opened last week with great fanfare – though locals, of course, had been swimming in it for months. Once upon a time, the tidal pools of Fife were the holiday playgrounds of Scotland, and in its heyday Pittenweem had a chute, a diving board, a float in the middle, a cafe and a row of wooden changing rooms. But pools like Pittenweem fell out of use in the 1980s . Now many are being brought back to life by community groups. No need to book, just turn up and swim at your own risk – and remember the only timetable you need to check is the tides.

The Herald: Swimmers and rock pool hunters enjoy the sun at Pittenweem Tidal Pool in Fife . July 1 2021..

The Tamar Manoukian New Cumnock Pool

New Cumnock, East Ayrshire

The only freshwater outdoor pool in Scotland, New Cumnock provides waters at a balmy 30C. It was fully refurbished by the Dumfries House Trust four years ago, after having been threatened with closure. As well as regular lane swimming and other activities, there is also the occasional Swim Under The Stars event, in which visitors get to swim through the evening till midnight. Booking is essential, call 01290 333 891

Stonehaven open air pool

Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

An outdoor pool where you can really get into your stride and take in lengths of 50m. The northernmost lido, it is also the country’s only art deco Olympic-sized sea water pool, designed by architects Gregory and Gall after the town, keen to develop itself as a prime holiday resort on the north east coast, voted in 1933 to build it. When it opened in 1934, it was as much an entertainment venue as exercise facility holding weekly galas full of exciting diving and performances.

In 1935, a heating system was installed and one of the concerns at that time was that swimmers would stay for 6-7 hours at a time, never wanting to leave – since at this time, most people would only bathe at home in a tub filled with water. Stonehaven open air pool now boasts sheltered sun terraces, a paddling pool for under-8s, fun sessions for kids and midnight swims. You can stick around for lunch too at the Splash Cafe.

Since the pool was shut throughout 2020, its opening this summer has been a huge event – not least because it came after 2,000 hours of volunteer work to repaint and improve the facilities, as well as the replacement of the old slide with a new one. See

The Herald: Swimmers at the Stonehaven Open Air Pool in Aberdeenshire, which reopens after lockdown restrictions were eased. Picture date: Saturday May 29, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

St Monans tidal pool

St Monans, Fife

A charming location, at the shoreline by the windmill that once pumped sea water to the salt pans that were formerly such an important industry in this fishing village. Manmade walls fence in the sea water here and steps leading down at its shallower end make for a good spot to leave towels and change. Bear in mind, though, that these walls not only hold back the outgoing tide, but some of the creatures that live in it. One of its delights can be to find a crab nipping at your toes. Again, remember it’s only thanks to once more thanks to the tireless work of Fifers that this is swimmable. Before February this year, a group led by local woman Jennifer Jones cleared it of dangerous hazards. However, it is not regularly maintained, so you swim at your own risk.

Portavadie infinity pool

Portavadie, Loch Fyne

What claims to be the largest heated outdoor infinity pool in Scotland sits at the edge of Loch Fyne – so, as you wallow in its warm waters you can take in the mountains and landscape around. When architect Brian Stewart came up with the idea of the pool, his initial idea was for guests to feel like they were submerged in the loch. “On a clear day, it will feel like you’re swimming over to Arran,” he said. Its temperature is kept at 33C, and on a cold day, you can watch the steam rise into the chill air, as you bask in the heat. Watch out for oystercatchers swooping over the loch. For more information or to book, see

Gateway, Jupiter Artland

Wilkieston, Edinburgh Why swim in a plain, boring ordinary pool when you can swim, or at least bathe, in art? Artist Joana Vasconcelos’s whimsical pool garden created for Jupiter Artland is nine-metres in length – just enough for a few strokes – and surrounded by yew hedges. Vasconcelos has said that she drew inspiration from astrology and the leylines that are said to intersect the 100-acre sculpture park. In other words, Gateway, as it’s called is meant to be about more than swimming – it’s about submersion as a spiritual experience, or a portal to another dimension. It’s also, with its floor of hand-painted tiles, stunningly beautiful. Groups of up to six people can enjoy a one-hour session of bathing, and such a session costs £60 for the full group. Tickets must be booked in addition to a general admission to Jupiter Artland, at

HotPool, Taymouth Marina


More of a giant spa pool than a swimming pool, this is where a swimmer can experience a touch of indulgence, with just a little sense of the wild. On the banks of Loch Tay, Taymouh Marina provides a spa experience that includes outdoor HotPool, HotBox Sauna, steam room, jetty and a slide that delivers the swimmer right into the waters of the loch. For more information see

Pinkston watersports

Speirs Warf, North Glasgow

Many people head to Pinkston for the other watersports – the kayaking, paddlboarding, the artificial whitewater course. But for those keen to try out open water swimming for the first time, be supervised, or train for an event, the open water swimming sessions in this basin on the Forth & Clyde Canal are ideal. It’s also just a few minutes drive from the centre of Glasgow. Their one hour non-coached open swim sessions are designed for competent swimmers and can be booked at

North Baths

Wick, Caithness

It must surely say something about the hardiness of the inhabitants of the north of Scotland that Wick is host to not just one but two open-air pools, the Trinkie and the North Baths. This is a place where cold water swimming was deemed so good you have to do it twice. However, both were damaged during the storm of 2012 and currently only the North Baths have been repaired. It was given a new lease of life by the Friends of the North Baths, cleaned out and whitewashed by volunteers. Among them was chairperson Patty Coghill, who has been swimming regularly in the North Baths since February. “I was thinking,” she said in an interview, “the place is dire, we need to fix this up.” It had been lying out of action for a long time. It’s really a great facility for the town – and there’s not many towns in the whole north of Scotland that will have two lidos. Once we get the Trinkie organised there will be two of them.” Recently the Trinkie Heritage Preservation Group was awarded £20,000 for essential repairs. The future promises a return of double-dipping.


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David Lloyd clubs

Various locations across Scotland

A distinctive feature of David Lloyd clubs is that often they include an outdoor swimming pool. This, I’ve noticed, in Edinburgh where I live is what has motivated many a member to join the Newhaven club - the idea of crawling, or breaststroking up and down the lanes in a pool that looks out over the Forth, and in warmed waters, whatever the weather, but especially in the sunshine. In fact, the experience can be all the more pleasurable when it’s cold outside and raining! The Newhaven pool is open from March to October, but some, for instance the pool at Rouken Glen, are open all year round..For those who fancy a regular outdoor pool dip, this is an option, but it’s not cheap. If there’s a David Lloyd club near you, chance is there is a an outdoor swimming pool - but the question is whether you want to pay the membership.

Milsey Bay tidal pool

North Berwick, East Lothian

North Berwick was once host to a heated saltwater lido that drew visitors from Edinburgh, East Lothian and beyond, which was closed in 1995. Archive photos of gala days show crowds clustered round the busy pools. Last year, a petition was launched to “Bring back the outdoor pool”, whether in its original spot by the harbour, or in some alternative location. In the meantime, though, there is still, for those looking for a relatively safe and contained space for the kids to paddle, and, at its deeper points even swim, the tidal pool which sits next to the Seabird Centre at Milsey Bay, North Berwick. It’s a magnet for children, who also seem to love to walk along the top of the wall that contains the tidal seawater. The beach is also a designated bathing water site, so information about water quality at this site can be found on the SEPA website. Plus, there are a wealth of possibilities for ice cream after - including the van by the beach, or, if you really want to indulge the weans, Alandas Gelateria on Quality Street.

The Herald:


Sheraton One Spa


Located on the rooftop of the Sheraton hotel in the centre of Edinburgh, part of its Onespa, is a hydropool made in stainless steel. A dip in here is not about swimming, but about revelling in the floor and body jets and the massage that its swirling water creates. Its website urges you to “forget about the world below”. An outdoor wallow in indulgence, this is the opposite kind of experience to a plunge in a chilly tidal pool, and you pay for it. The rooftop hydropool is reopening, following closure, on August 16.Escape at One is currently available at a cost of £50 per person, and includes access to other spa facilities as well as the hydropool.

Willowgate activity centre

Kinfauns, Perth

A lagoon in the river Tay is the site of regular open water swimming sessions run by Willowgate Activity Centre. All the organisers say you need is a “swimming cap and your sense of adventure”. Swimming sessions are 60 minutes long and are for over 12 year olds only. Bookings must be made online beforehand, and it’s advised that, while swimmers can choose to wear a wetsuit or not, they do wear a hat as it allows staff to see them better.

The Bathie, Cellardyke

The Bathie, as it’s known locally, is a tidal pool that has had little maintenance in recent times, so only for the relatively adventurous, as their may be hazards. Entry to the water is through rocky shallows, but the pool can be, at its deepest, 6 feet. It’s one of many tidal pools in Fife that are being restored through local campaigns, with the hope of bringing them back to their former glory.

Cameron House on Loch Lomond

On the banks of Loch Lomond, is a spa with a view over Ben Lomond and the loch, and one of the best places to take it in, is in the rooftop infinity pool. Use is available as part of a two hour hydro and thermal experience, which also includes ice shower, caldarium and other features, which costs £39 for residents of Cameron House Hotel and £49 for non residents.

Foxlake Adventures


Most people who know Foxlake, don’t associate open water swimming when they think of this adventure activity facility - they’re more likely to think of the wakeboarding or the dramatic over-water wire trail. But open water swimming, in a “safe and secure” environment is something Foxlake offers. “Our sessions,” their website says, “allow swimmers to train in a controlled environment, so you can focus on your session without worrying about tides or currents. The lake allows for a 300m loop that all swimmers will follow, with a safety kayak and further staff supervision from shore.”

Knockburn sports loch

Strachan, Banchory

At the heart of Royal Deeside, this purpose built body of water describes itself as a sports loch, so really it’s all about proper swimming rather than just having a splash around. It hosts a number of different distance loops from 400m to 800m, so there is a distance for all ability levels. Bear in mind that loch temperatures average around 14C, so it’s always going to be bracing - if you’re nervous about the cold, or how long you will be able to stay in, wear a wetsuit. Day passes are available and it’s also possible to do a range of other activities, including paddleboarding. The loch is mainly used for open water swimming as there is a big Triathlon community locally, and has become hugely popular during the pandemic. If you pause for a moment, you can enjoy the wildlife too - ducks, geese, fish, dragonflies, birds of prey.

Easdale quarry pools

Easdale Island, Argyll

Teal blue and surrounded by dramatic walls of rock, the flooded quarry pools of Easdale island are destination dip spots for wild swimmers. These are outdoor swimming pools only for the most adventurous, those willing to take the boat to the island, then a hike. They are the wildest spots on this list. They are also unsupervised, very cold and very deep (one has a depth of 60m), shelving quickly from their shallow ends - so advised only for strong swimmers. But, oh the wonder, of a float on your back in these glorious waters. Best followed by a lunch at the Puffer Tearoom afterwards.

Monikie open water swimming

Monikie Country Park

If you’re normally a pool swimmer and want to try open water swimming but without too much of the wildness, or just want to get some decent training in the outdoors, then Monikie, just a short drive from Dundee, could be for you. A former reservoir, which is also host to other watersports, including windsurfing, sailing, rafting, kayaking, provides a 400 metre course, with lifeguard supervision. There are rules here though - for instance wetsuits must be worn and swimmers must be aged 16 or over - and swimming is only bookable on certain dates. This isn’t a spot for a casual family dip!