London's swimfans are on the increase: visits to Hampstead Heath's three bathing ponds have risen by 121% in the last decade (from 296,000 a year to 655,000). And for anybody up for a bracing midwinter dip, the Hampstead Heath winter swimming season has just been announced — along with a few changes to their usual systems.
Running from 21 September, 2020 to 30 April, 2021, the winter season will span all four swim spots: the Kenwood Ladies' Bathing Pond, the Hampstead Mixed Bathing Pond, the Highgate Men's Pond, and the Parliament Hill Fields Lido.
Updates for the winter include a new contactless payment process, and some changes to bookings and swim times: rather than specific session bookings, the ponds and lido will move to a one-in-one-out system when each spot reaches capacity.
There'll also be free morning swim slots for under 16s and over 60s at the Ponds, running daily from 7-9.30 am. Announcements around other steps to ensure inclusivity of access are expected later in September, with a number of proposals being presented to the Heath's management committee this week.
Hampstead Heath operates as a charity, funded largely by the City of London Corporation — and all proceeds from the swimming charges and season tickets are funnelled back into running the swimming facilities.
Visit the City of London's Corporation's website for current bookings and winter season plans.
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