Ruislip Lido: London’s only beach!

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Okay, that might be overstating it a touch! But Ruislip Lido is a reservoir and artificial beach in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Super popular with locals and visitors, Ruislip Lido has lots to offer and is a fun day out for all the family.

Having grown up in Ruislip, I often overlook the lido in my recommendations for days out. Now that we live further away, but regularly visit family in the area, we use the lido more than ever before.

The Beach

The water’s edge is a large expanse of artificial beach. The soft sand is home to a pirate ship play frame and lots of play equipment. Kids can swing, climb, spin, dig, command a band of jolly pirates or, more simply, make sand castles. It’s a large enough area but on sunny days it does get extremely busy. People set up camp with their picnic and let the kids run wild. The beach area is also next to the cafe and loos so people tend to congregate there. The large reservoir is very tempting in hot weather, but people are discouraged from swimming due to hazards in the water – mostly bird poo as far as I can work out- but that doesn’t stop people! I wouldn’t enter the water – I might paddle my feet if feeling brave – but I imagine it’s filthy!

The Woods

Ruislip Lido is surrounded by woodland; if you’re not into the beach crowds on a nice day, you can take your picnic into the woods for some shade and some peace and quiet. There are lots of lovely walks through the woods – long and short – and you can play nature games and build bivvys.

The Walk

Ruislip Lido is popular with local walkers and joggers as there is a circular walk around the reservoir that is just over 2-miles long. Its a nice walk, mostly flat and easy and takes you through grassland, woodland and the beach. You’ll pass a pub, a kiosk, a cafe and an ice cream van on your walk and there are lots of places to stop for a rest if you have tired little legs with you.

Things to do

Besides the beach and the walk around the reservoir, you will find outdoor gym equipment, neighbouring woodland, lots of green space to relax, play games and have a picnic. There is also a splash park on the beach side of the lido so bring swim suits and a towel. The lido is also a great place for bikes, scooters and outdoor games.

In addition, Ruislip Lido is home to Ruislip Lido Railway, Britain’s longest 12-inch narrow gauge railway staffed by volunteers. It’s a great little train ride around the lido– my littluns love it – and it’s cheap as chips…we went last weekend and it cost £7 for 2 adults, 2 children and a baby. They take your buggy, scooters and bulky items too so we often walk half of the lido and get the train the other half. Keep an eye on their social media as they run special services at Christmas and Halloween too.

Food & Drink

There are various options for food and drink at the lido. Lots of people take a packed lunch or a picnic; if you’re not that organised, don’t despair! You have the choice of a pub – The Waters Edge– on the car park side, a cafe on the beach side – Lakeside Cafe – and a kiosk in between that sells drinks, snacks, ice cream and hot dogs at the moment. In high season there are usually ice cream vans dotted around too.

Lunch in the Waters Edge. Family friendly, cheap and cheerful food. Good kids menu.

Getting there & Parking

BE WARNED! On hot, sunny days, the lido gets very busy and parking is mental! There are three car parks – one for the Waters Edge pub, one for Hillingdon residents and one for the general public. People park ridiculously on all streets surrounding the lido and the traffic wardens have a field day! If it is a weekend in the summer months with good weather forecast, you need to get there early if you want to park.

The nearest tube station is Ruislip on the Metropolitan and Picadilly lines – the lido is a 30-minute walk from the station- not easy if laden down with picnic and beach paraphernalia – or a 15-minute bus ride – the H13 stops outside.

Well worth a visit and open all year round.

Enjoy! Amy and the littluns x

My very favourite thing is the train! It’s so cool and I want to go again and again!

Eden, age 6

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