It may have been raining in Cheshire on the summer’s day I happened to be in the vicinity of Nantwich Outdoor Brine Pool, but nothing was going to dampen my enthusiasm for a dip in this historic spot. This was only further fueled by the passion that was exhibited by the manager as he showed me around and the knowledge that swimming on wet days helps to keep the UK’s lidos open.
Being on my way to a family wedding, I had my parents in tow and it’s always lovely when they come along for a swim with me. After reassuring my mum that the water is heated, she seemed unconvinced as she got in to the pool, but soon warmed up. Apparently 22°c doesn’t feel that warm unless you have unheated outdoor swimming spots to compare it to.
My dad is a useful fountain of knowledge and explained the mystery of there being a brine pool in the middle of Cheshire. You see the area has long been mined for salt, which was an important factor in the local chemical manufacturing industry nearby.
If you find the idea of salty swim unappealing, the brine pool is much more subtle than the sea and does not leave you feeling encrusted with the stuff or with a sharp taste in your mouth. In fact, the aforementioned manager even suggested the level of brine was a little low at the time of our visit. I heard all the jokes about tuna fish and hot dogs at the mention of me going for a swim in a brine pool! When I came out my skin was lovely and soft.
The pool adheres to old-fashioned dimensions, which isn’t surprising when you remember it opened in 1935. This means that a length is 30 metres long instead of the usual 25 metres. So, don’t beat yourself up if you seem to be swimming more slowly than usual! There are five lanes and on that grey day in August, there were around a dozen adult swimmers going up and down.
On sunnier days at this time of year I can imagine the deck chairs and loungers get filled up with happy couples and families, each clutching an ice cream from the cafe on site. The manager informed me that the 2019 season hadn’t been the busiest, but in 2018, they had welcomed 28,000 people in the six months of the year it was open. You can swim at Nantwich Brine Pool from May each year.
Don’t be surprised when arriving at the pool that you seem to have made it to a modern leisure centre. There’s a relatively new indoor pool and changing area, but the real gem lies out the back. You can see where the original changing rooms used to be, but showers, lockers and all that jazz are in the new bit these days. You’ll need a £1 for the lockers and 20p for the hairdryer.
An adult swim costs £5*, while children get in for £4.20 and under-threes are free. Family tickets are priced at £12.
*I was given free entry, but this has in no way affected my review.