Sports and Recreation
Never be afraid to give a new sport a go. Most local clubs are run by volunteers who tend to be enthusiastic and welcoming, particularly when it comes to new members. In this section we’ve gone for the quirky and left out the usual stuff. For example, if you are after local swimming pools you’ll find those on a local authority website or via a localised Google search and instead we’ve listed outdoor pools and wild swimming.
Although the Battersea Park adventure playground may have closed, there are still around 80 adventure playgrounds across London and most are free. London Play's website has lots of really useful information and a database full of places where your child can enjoy playing in the capital. Give it a go and find your local adventure playground!
Address: London Play, 89 - 93 Fonthill Road, London, N4 3JH
Phone: 020 7272 2464
The Castle Climbing Centre (Stoke Newington)
There are a number of indoor climbing centres in and around the Capital that offer an excellent way to enter the sport. Try a taster day and see if you like it. One of the best, and quirkiest, is the Castle Climbing Centre. Set in Stoke Newington, this old pumping station (built in 1856) is a well known London Landmark that has been given a new lease of life as a climbing centre. The folly now houses climbing walls that cater for a mix of abilities, with over 450 routes serviced by more than 90 roped lines spread over two floors. You’ll also find an excellent climbing shop and the Castle Cafe. There are a number of climbing
sessions run for children, particularly in the school holidays.
Open: weekdays 2pm - 10pm and weekends 10am - 7pm
Tube/bus: Manor House and bus 341 or 141
Address: Green Lanes, Stoke Newington, London, N4 2HA
Phone: 020 8211 7000
Clip n Climb (Chelsea)
Address: 19 Michael Road, London SW6 2ER
The Arch Climbing Wall (Bermondsey)
Address: Building One, Drummond Road, London SE16 4DG
Mile End Climbing Wall
Address: Mile End Climbing Wall, Haverfield Road, London E3 5BE
Address: Arch 47 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1SR
Address: Westway Sports & Fitness Centre, 1 Crowthorne Road, London W10 6RP
The Capital has some amazing temporary outdoor ice rinks over the Christmas months, from November through to January. My favourite is the rink that pops up at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. There are also a number of permanaent rink that you can enjoy all year round, particlulary if you start to find the summer heat unbearable.
Alexandra Palace Ice Rink
Rink size 56m x 26m. The Alexandra Palace Ice Rink offers a wide range of activities suitable for all ages and covers all aspects of ice sport. It has a total capacity of 1,250 including a seating area for 741 plus a café and a bar. there are plenty of things to do nearby, take a look at their website for information.
Open: Daily 10am-8pm
Tube: Wood Green + W3 bus, BR: Alexandra Palace
Address: Alexandra Palace Way, Wood Green, London, N22 7AY
Phone: 020 8365 4386
Nearby: Skate Park, Highgate Cemetery.
Lee Valley Ice Centre
Large rink, although slightly harder to get to (bus or car journey probably required). If visiting the area you could tie in with a visit to Hackney Marshes, Walthamstow Market or Epping Forest.
Times: 11-15.30 (Check site for later sessions)
Admission: Adults £6, Kids £5, Under 3 £2, Skate hire £1
Transport: Bus 55, 56 48. BR Clapton
Address: Lea Bridge Rd, Leyton, London E10 7QL
Phone: 020 8533 3155
Queens Ice and Bowl
Family attraction with an ice rink, 12 bowling lanes, private karaoke rooms and casual dining. Nearby Queensway market, shopping centre, Kensington Gardens and the excellent Diana Memorial Park.
Open: 10am-6.45pm and 8pm-10.45pm
Admission: adults £10.50, child £10, skate hire £3
Address: 17 Queensway, Bayswater, London W2 4QP
Phone: 020 7229 0172
Streatham Ice Rink
The new Streatham Ice Rink boasts a full size 60x30m ice pad and almost 1000 spectator seats. There is an extensive programme of activities for all ages and abilities to encourage people onto the ice. Have a go at ice skating, ice hockey, skating lessons and more.
Open: Monday to Friday 11.30am to 3.30pm, 11am to 1pm at the weekend
Admission: Adult £7.20, child £6.70,
Address: 390 Streatham High Road, London SW16 6HX
Phone: 020 8677 5758
Better Extreme (Barking)
This brand new facility boast a super cool indoor skate / BMX park and climbing walls. Better is a social enterprise that has used lottery funding to establish and refresh a number of facilities locally and ploughs profit back into its centres.
Open: Monday to Friday 4-10pm, weekends 10am-10pm
Admission: adults from £7.95, children from £5.95
Address: Mayesbrook Park, Lodge Avenue, Dagenham, RM8 2JR
BR: Upney Station
Phone: 020 3004 4123
Alexandra Palace Skate Park (Muswell Hill)
Free to use + lots of other things around including an ice rink, boating lake, playground and animal park – see website for full details.
Tube: Wood Green + W3, BR: Alexandra Palace
Address: Alexandra Palace Way, Wood Green, London, N22 7AY
NikeBaySixty6 (Notting Hill)
Formally known as the Playstation skate park, it’s situated under the A40/West Way near the climbing centre and it gets great reviews. There are a number of courses with ramps to suit all. BMX’ers are also catered for. Beginner skate session’s run on Saturday & Sunday mornings, with skateboards provided. Helmets can be hired, but bring your own pads. Check their website for more info.
Open: every day. Times vary, check website.
Admission: single sessions £7, day pass £10, beginner sessions £4.
Tube: Westbourne Park
Address: Bay 65-66, Acklam Road, Notting Hill, London, W10 5YU
Phone: 020 8969 4669
House of Vans
Vans has transformed this underground space into mix of ‘Off The Wall’ vaults that contain an art gallery, a VansLab artist incubator space, cinema, live music venue, premium café and bars, gifting suite and skater built and designed concrete bowl, mini ramp and street course. Open five days a week, it also hosts major live events at weekends and will showcase some of the best skateboarders from across the globe.
Open: Wednesday to Sunday. Times vary, check website
Address: Station Approach Rd, Lambeth, London SE1 8SW
Victoria Park, Tower Hamlets
Next door to the London 2012 Olympic Village, you’ll find Victoria Park’s purpose-built skatepark. It features a full cradle and bowl. There is also a nice street course. Well worth a visit.
Open: 6am until dusk
Location: Victoria Park, Grove Road, London E3 5TN
If you fancy watching some skateboarding, you’ll find people boarding on the Southbank in a popular ‘unofficial’ site under the Southbank Centre.
Check out this website for some great information on London’s skateparks: www.londonskateparks.co.uk
There are plenty of opportunities for children and young people, between the ages of 11 and 18, to experience the sport of rowing. Lots of clubs have become involved in a programme designed to encourage more participation across the Capital. You'll have a go at sitting on a rowing machine (ergo), in boats on the water and there's also adaptive rowing for disabiled rowers.
There are a variety of trips, tours and bespoke experiences on offer that enable anyone to see London's iconic waterfront from kayaks. Based at the Cremorne Riverside Centre, Chelsea, you'll get the chance to view landmarks from the river, including the Houses of Parliament, HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge.
Cost: varies by excursion + membership available.
Address: Cremorne Riverside, Cremorne Gardens, Lots Road, London SW10 0QH
Phone: 020 7349 9591
Lee Valley White Water Centre
Enjoy your own white water adventure and experience the thrills of shooting down a course at a world-class venue that Team GB won Gold and Silver on in Canoe Slalom. There is a range of white water activities from canoeing and kayaking to white water rafting. Lots of other sports available, check website.
Open: varies, check website
Admission: dependent on activity, see website
Address: Station Road, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire EN9 1AB
BR: Waltham Cross
Phone: 08456 770 606
King's Cross Pond Club
The UK's first ever man-made fresh water chemical-free 40m long, natural, public bathing pond. It is a piece of innovative experimental Land Art, within a working construction site area of London's King's Cross, entitled 'Of Soil and Water' – the King's Cross Pond Club.
Open: varies, check website.
Admission: between £3.50 and £6.50
Address: 20 Canal Reach, (entrance on Tapper walk), London N1C 4BE
Phone: 0203 818 6500
Swimming at Hampstead Heath
If you like open-air swimming, Hampstead Heath offers the Ladies’ Pond, the Men’s Pond, the Mixed Pond and the Parliament Hill Lido. The Ladies’ and Men’s Ponds are unique in the United Kingdom in being the only life-guarded open-water swimming facilities open to the public every day of the year. The Lido is a 60 x 27 metre uncovered, unheated swimming pool at Parliament Hill. Be aware of the risks of cold water, but have fun!
The Serpentine Lido and its accompanying paddling pool are great for both adults and children. It is open on weekends throughout May (including the May Day Bank Holiday) and seven days a week from 1 June to 12 September. There’s also the Lido Cafe Bar, with waterside tables. Members of the Serpentine Swimming Club – the oldest swimming club in Britain – swim every day in the Lido, including the famous race on Christmas day.
Open: 10am-6pm (last entry 5:30pm) every day in June, July and August.
Admission: adult £4.80, child £1.80, families £12.00 (cheaper after 4pm)
Address: Hyde Park, London W2 2UH
Phone: 020 7706 3422
Enjoy swimming in this 50 metre heated outdoor swimming pool that’s recently undergone a £2 million refurbishment.
Open: 7am-8pm most days, 10am-5pm at weekends.
Admission: adults £6, child £4
Address: Hornfair Park, Shooters Hill Road, London SE18 4LX
Bus: 89, 178
Phone: 0208 856 7389
London Fields Lido
London Fields Lido is a 50 metre heated outdoor pool, which is generally open whatever the weather. The Lido is in the north-west corner of London Fields Park at London Fields Westside. The Lido has flood lighting, making it ideal for a nighttime dip. The Lido also boasts a café and sun terrace and is fully accessible.
Open: Monday to Sunday 6.30am-9pm
Admission: adult £7.05, child £3.45
Address: London Fields Westside, London E8 3EU
BR: London Fields
Phone: 020 7254 9038
A 36 metre heated outdoor pool, open 365 days a year, it is situated in two acres of woodland next to Royal Bushy Park. There is also a learner pool for children and their parents. Well worth a visit.
Open: varies, check website.
Admission: adult £5-6.90, child £3.10-3.90, under 4 free
Address: High Street, Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 2ST
Phone: 020 8255 1116
Situated in the corner of Brockwell Park, this much-loved local landmark has been at the heart of the local community since 1937. The Art Deco Grade II listed building has been extended and transformed and now offers fantastic health and fitness facilities all year round. Run by a registered charity, your visit helps to keep one of London's few remaining open-air pools open for future generations. Brockwell Park is also home to a BMX track and Brixton city farm. Please be aware of the pool admission ratios for children 8 and under:
1 adult to 2 children 8 and under
When air temperature is predicted to be 23c or higher:
1 adult to 1 child under 4 years
1 adult to 2 children 4-8 years
Open: 6.30am to 8pm
Admission: adult £5.95, child £3.40
Address: Brockwell Park, Dulwich Road, London SE24 0PA
BR: Herne Hill
Phone: 020 7274 3088
Tooting Bec lido
Tooting Bec Lido is the largest fresh water, open air swimming pool in England. It has a 90m pool and children's paddling pool with nearby gazebo shaded area. There is a cafe, open seven days a week from 7am to 7pm.
Open: daily. May to August 6am-7.45pm, September closes 4.45pm
Tube: Tooting Bec, BR Streatham
Address: Tooting Bec Road, London SW16 1RU
Phone: 020 8871 7198