Hathersage Swimming Pool – the pool in the Peaks

“I arrived at Hathersage in time for a pre–lunch dip in the village swimming pool, an open–air, heated lido set high on a hillside with spectacular views of the Peaks on all sides.”

There’s steam rising as I skip up the narrow steps of Hathersage Swimming Pool, hand over my entrance fee and catch sight of the water for the first time. The day is grey and foggy, the temperature on the low side, the weather conspiring to create a tempting swirl on this stunning lido’s surface.

I make my way around the water’s edge, serious swimmers ploughing out lengths of butterfly on one side, convivial regulars chatting while breaststroking slowly on the other. There’s a pleasant hum to proceedings as I lock myself away in a cubicle, get into my bathers and ping my goggles tightly over my eyes. 

After cooling dips in the North Sea, River Bure and Highgate Ponds, the balmy 28º pool is bliss. I slide into the shallow end, the steam obscuring the view as I settle into a slow paddle before working my way up to a snappier front crawl. A lifeguard mops the pool walls, keeping everything ship shape while I find my rhythm and work my way towards my must–do forty lengths.

Despite the weather, there’s a sizeable crowd in the water, plastic chairs laden with towels and bags. As I turn at the end of each length I hear talk of work, school runs and lunch, all to be tackled after another few minutes in the pool. Much like when Roger came here, it’s easy to see that Hathersage’s outdoor pool is, as he said, ‘a central place in the social life of the village’.

As I keep on, the pool empties out, leaving me as the solitary swimmer. I enjoy my solo dip for a few minutes, before pulling myself out, showering off and joining my uncle, who’s driven down from Yorkshire to join me for this midweek adventure. We sit in the grandstand with a cup of tea, perusing the books on sale in a banana box left on the long pew (a hard back copy of Johnners’ biography for a quid seems oddly appropriate).

Tempting smells from the adjacent Hathersage pool cafe waft up as we look across to the resplendent bandstand, the odd drop of rain now splashing the pool’s surface. Roger would be pleased to know that the bandstand, shut on his visit due to EU regulations, is very much open. The pool’s first night swim of the season is coming up, with live music being played for swimmers powering out lengths and splashing about in the shallows.

There’s nothing flashy about this delightful spot. It’s still run by the Parish Council and while the original changing rooms have been replaced and everything given a lick of paint, I’m sure my predecessor would be bowled over by how the people of Hathersage have kept this stunning pool at the heart of their village.

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