Biggest child has been on cub camp all week and I offered to help them out when they went swimming. Obviously that also gave me chance to do a sneaky review of Hinksey Outdoor Pool (aka Lido) in Oxford too. What’s the difference between an outdoor pool and a lido? I have no idea but Hinksey seems to be referred to as both.
The pool is on the same site as Hinksey Park and splash park. You can read my review of those here.
This review of Hinksey outdoor pool was written in a world before covid so some of the processes may have changed, particularly with regards to booking. Please double check their website to see the latest guidance.
Their booking system
I had heard that Hinksey outdoor pool can get REALLY busy and it was predicted to be 24 degrees when we went so I thought I’d book to make sure I got in. BIG MISTAKE. Their booking system is stupid! You click “book now”, select the type of ticket you want on a certain date and then click on the + / – to add tickets. Except it’s sneakily already added a ticket in your name. WHAT BOOKING SYSTEM DOES THAT?? I didn’t realise until too late that £17.60 for me and middle child was waaaaay too expensive.
You may have seen my rant on Facebook, but it took a lot of work to get that sorted, despite the lovely member of staff admitting the website is stupid. Anyway, it is sorted now but maybe don’t bother booking online?? N.B. I don’t think booking on line actually gives you priority entry so there might not be any point anyway.
Hinksey Outdoor pool
So, rant over, down to the review of the Hinksey Lido. Firstly, it doesn’t have a lot of facilities. There are about 15 outdoor changing rooms (I really should have counted them) which I imagine get a bit chilly if it’s cold. They don’t have any family changing rooms and they don’t have any baby changing facilities at all. I did ask the staff and was told “I think we have a changing mat around here somewhere” but they couldn’t find it. I only wanted somewhere I could lay smallest child down to get her dressed so we just made do. It does seem a bit odd that a family pool doesn’t have any family facilities.
The pool is rather like a little beach really (or a bloomin’ big puddle as I also described it). The water starts off very shallow then slowly slopes down. At the shallowest points they have a non-slip surface which is great for not slipping over. Unfortunately it’s akin to sand paper and so smallest child came home with some pretty big and deep grazes on both her ankles and her elbow. There’s also a mushroom style water feature in the middle of the pool which is constantly pumping out an umbrella of water. It’s pretty cool.
They have segregated the pools according to depth. There’s the shallow bit, middle bit and then a deep bit. I was a bit surprised that non-swimmers, aka smallest child (even with her flotation jacket and me holding her) were not allowed in the middle bit (about 1m). That did mean that the boys, who are both good swimmers, had to go into the middle section on their own with me wandering up and down the rope to keep an eye on them. I do think it would have been lovely having a proper swim in the deep bit if I was without the kids.
Busy Times / Banding
There is a large lawn area you can sit on when you’re not in the pool. You can hire sun loungers and umbrellas if you want to. Being a lido rather than a “normal” swimming pool it’s not actually just about your time in the water. They also have a little shop and cafe if you want to have lunch, or you could bring a picnic. You can spend the whole day there if you want to.
Because there is no limit to the amount of time you can spend at the pool there can be very, very long queues. Apparently these can even be one or two hours! When the weather is particularly nice they put a banding system in place to control the number of people in the water at any one time. At peak times they can limit you to just 15 minutes in the water per hour! Honestly I don’t know how I’d manage that with smallest child.
One thing I will say for Hinksey Outdoor pool is that it’s very clean. I think that is really helped by the fact that it’s outdoors – less chance to get musty and damp. Overall it’s a very nice pool to swim in and it makes a change from Aqua Vale. We were only able to be there for a couple of hours but we all had such a good time. I’d like to go back again.
£6.50 per adult, £4.30 per child, £19.30 for a family ticket. There are discounts for early or late swims and you can get an annual membership (including ones for kids). Prices correct at time of publishing.
Parking / How to get there
Address – Hinksey Park, Abingdon Road, Oxford, OX1 4RP
Parking – There is parking on-site. It is chargeable and there’s not a lot of it. It’s 80p for an hour, £2 for 1-3 hours, £4 for 3-5 hours and £15 for over 5 hours!!! If you can get a bus (including from the park and ride down the road) then I would. Particularly if you’re planning on being there all day.
They are horrible. Really gross. Not necessarily because they’re unclean but because they’re so old and tatty. See what I mean…..
There is a cafe / take-away kiosk on site.
Our review of Hinksey Outdoor Pool
I’d like to give it 5 / 5. It really is a nice pool and an outside swim is really good fun. BUT I’ve got to knock points off for the lack of family changing rooms, the gross toilets and the rubbish booking system. It gets 4 / 5.
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook