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Feeling hot hot hot? 25 places to keep your cool

Hey hot stuff! Bit sweaty? Here's Muddy's pick of the best outdoor pools, river spots and aqua parks to cool down in. Just add sun lotion.

It’s scorchio! Good job we know just the places to keep your cool. So here’s the Muddy-approved lowdown on all the best local spots for H2O fun. (If we’ve missed anywhere good, let us know in the comment box below please). Just make sure those bikini straps are firmly secured before you cannonball in…

WATER PARKS

Liquid Leisure, Windsor

Home to Europe’s largest aqua park and the first Ninja Warrior UK Aqua Park, Liquid Leisure in Datchet, has long been the place to slide, bounce, jump, climb and get dumped into the water. And this year, they’ve gone all out, adding an Aqua Jungle and a junior course for ages 4+. As a mum of two boys aged 13 and five, the little man has always had to sit this one, but not any more. Inflatable obstacles not your thing? There’s more – try wake boarding, paddle boarding, the banana boat, ringo rides, open swimming or chill on the beach. It’s a whole day out of H2O fun, add it to your list. There are social distancing restrictions in place, so it’s worth checking the website before your book. 

Caversham Lakes, Reading

CAVERSHAM LAKES Aqua_Park

A brand new venue in the centre of Reading for all your adrenaline-fuelled fun. Caversham Lakes boasts an inflatable aqua obstacle course, paddleboarding, kayaking and open water swimming, plus a beach and, more importantly, a beach bar you to enjoy that cold gin in a tin. Go wet and wild, from £15.

Lagoona Park, Reading

On the outskirts of Reading is another aqua park with water obstacle course, paddle boarding and the handy new addition of a land-based course for those who are not keen on H2O. Set on a 25-acre lake just off J11 of the M4, Lagoona Aqua Park, is suitable for ages 8+.

OUTDOOR POOLS

Thames Lido, Reading

Thames Lido Reading Berkshire infinity pool swimmer in red cap

It’s old school glamour personified. The Edwardian Thames Lido in King’s Meadow Reading is seriously fancy schmancy. When it’s this scorchio, the lido is super busy so it’s worth booking a Swim Package which includes a meal in the seriously. No balls or bombing, but a quality pool for a dip with very low levels of chlorine. The pool is open to members only right now. The rest of us will have to wait until the 21 Jun, or watch with envy from the restaurant.

Wycombe Rye Lido, High Wycombe

For peeps living in Maidenhead and Windsor, Wycombe Rye Lido is probably your closest al fresco outdoor pool. The lido, a 33m x 12.5m pool and is open all year round. You need to book and pay online in advance and you’ve got 50 minutes to waft about in the heated pool. It’s not quite the summer cool off you may have planned but dive in the water’s lovely. 

Cliveden Spa, Cliveden House Hotel, Taplow

For a bit more refinement sans the offspring, strip like a Sixties show girl and loaf in luxury at Cliveden Spa. The Grade II listed pool is a stunner and the scene of Christine Keeler and John Profumo’s scandalous heavy petting. Book a spa day and enjoy a well-deserved pamper, the pretty garden view from your sun lounger and a sedate dip to cool off when you’re feeling hot hot hot.

Northcroft Outdoor Pool, Newbury

Northcroft Outdoor Pool Newbury drone footage

Love a lido but want to keep the costs down, head to Newbury’s Northcroft Leisure Centre to take a dip in its 72m outdoor pool. It is massive! As you would expect when the mercury rises, the crowds swarm to Northcroft to hang poolside, so get there early and claim you turf. It’s currently being filled, and opens at the end of June. Adults £4.80, kids £1.20 and a family tickets is £13. Let’s hope the heatwave lasts long enough for us to use it.

WATER ACTIVITIES

Bray Lake Watersports, Bray

Four canoes paddle around the willow-tree-lined lake in Bray, Berkshire

Bray Lake has it all going on – beautiful location and the largest independent water sports club in the country offering kids clubs and more water sports than you can paddle at. Learn to windsurf, sail, paddleboard or enjoy open swimming. They also run brilliant kids holidays courses. Drag them away from the tech and sign ’em up during the summer break. They’ll learn a brilliant skill and love the outdoors. 

if you’re closer the Sandhurst, then Horseshoe Lake Activity Centre, also offers the same water sports tuition and hire. Equally pretty, just on the side of the county.

Paddleboarding, Swan at Streatley, Streatley

SUP_LIFE Swan at Streatley Berkshire

What’s better than a gentle paddle on the River Thames? One that comes with the reward of a cracking view and an ice cold bevvy afterwards. The Swan at Streatley is one of the prettiest river locations in the county and they offer mixed ability classes and evening paddles. A Berkshire gem.

Wild Paddle Berkshire, Newbury

Wild Paddleboard tours newbury

Test your sense of adventure and your balance on a SUP tour of the Kennet & Avon Canal. Wild Paddle Berkshire is sightseeing with a difference. The difference being you’re on a paddle board and there’s a risk of getting wet… Run by Lara and her expert team, the tours set off from both Newbury and Kintbury locks and are perfect for beginners to the more skilled. It’s a unique and tranquil way to see this beautiful part of Berks. Bookings from 3 April.

Dinton Activity Centre, Wokingham

Always wanted to join the Boaty McBoatfaces of Berkshire, messing about on the water? You don’t need a Lotto win, just the ability to have a laugh. Throughout the summer, Dinton Activity Centre‘s running taster sessions in kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing. The taster sesh costs £20, pre-booking is essential and  it’s suitable for adults, families and over 8s.

Go With the Flo Paddleboarding, Wargrave

Reopening just in time for the Easter break, wetsuit up and wobble on the water in Wargrave. Go With The Flo Paddleboarding, run by Nick Judd, offer family paddles, night adventures, SUP pilates, group and 1:1 lessons. Having tried this sport, the bit where you look elegant is hard to achieve. But OMG I’ve never laughed so much. From £50.

SPLASH PARKS

Wellington Country Park play area with splash zone

Wellington Country Park, Riseley

Pitch up at Wellington Country Park and let the kids run wild. There’s 350 acres to explore, hiding dinosaurs, train rides, epic slides and a splash zone. It’s particularly great for little ones, but I think if you’re hot enough the big kids and adults won’t mind a drenching. There’s always loads going on from fair, pixie and pirate weekends plus the big inflatable takeover. Great place to go in the summer hols. 

California Country Park, Wokingham

A supersized paddling pool that beats your teeny tiny garden inflatable any day of the week. California Country Park has plenty to keep everyone entertained for a day out. There’s a small extra charge for this, but it’s not expensive. Situated next to the pool is a shady woodland play area, there’s also a café and a larger playground too. Picnic, go for a wander. It’s a place to chill and keep your cool. 

Beale Park, Pangbourne

If you have young children with the attention span of a goldfish (comes with the teeny territory), Beale Park is perfect. Animals, a train, large adventure playground, sandpit and a big paddling pool. Happy kids, happy parents – gin consumption could be kept to a minimum on this day (just a suggestion) – as this is a day out that always ends on a high. Whilst the animal offering isn’t huge, there’s also a deer park and some lovely gardens to wander round.

MESS ABOUT ON THE RIVER

Thames Rivercruise Caversham Reading

What Berkshire lacks in beaches, it makes up for in rivers and we have one of the prettiest stretches. Don’t take my word for it, author Kenneth Grahame loved this neck of the woods (and river) so much so, he wrote a book about it – The Wind In The Willows. You may have heard of it (*wink wink). Thames Rivercruise in Caversham, Kris Cruisers in Datchet or French Brothers in Windsor offer 45-90 minute meanders for you to mindfully check out and take in the views. Choose wisely and you can add sundowners and cream teas to your cruise. Now you’re talking.

Cliveden Flotilla, Taplow

Cliveden House Hotel Flotilla 1930s vintage boat on river thames

Ditch the other cruisers and feel like you’ve stepped into Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisted. Head to the super-luxe Cliveden House Hotel – a stonking Italianate mansion set in 376 acres of gardens and woodland – and take a special boat trip. There are two beautiful vintage boats – one for 10 guests, the other for four – and you can add a posh picnic lunch, afternoon tea or Champagne to scoff or quaff as you a potter down to Henley. It doesn’t get better than this… unless you can snaffle an overnight stay and keep the boat.

row of canoes on green lake
Cherwell Boathouse punts

Alternatively, head to the spires of Oxford and punt from Magdalen Boat HouseFolly Bridge or Cherwell Boathouse – the riverside restaurant at the latter is lovely, plus it’s slightly cheaper and less touristy.

MAN AND WOMAN IN COSTUMES IAT COLNE BROOK BERKSHIRE WILD SWIMMING
Image: Wild Swmming

Wild swimmers, meanwhile, should head to Pangbourne – a safe stretch of the Thames that inspired Wind In The Willows and Three Men In A Boat or Colne Brook in Wraysbury.

For a paddle, there’s Bucklebury Ford, a favourite with my kids, for a paddle. No frills, outdoorsy fun when the sun shines.

Need sun, sea and sand? Here’s 9 beaches less than two hours from Berkshire.

2 comments on “Feeling hot hot hot? 25 places to keep your cool”

  • Anna August 2, 2020

    Thanks for this fab summary. Just been swimming at High Wycombe Lido (which I never heard of until your article!) and it was fantastic. Really enjoyed swimming again after 4.5 months. xx

    Reply
    • rachel August 3, 2020

      So nice to be able to swim outside in this glorious weather. Glad it helped.

      Reply

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