Och Aye the Pool. A taste of summer at Gourock
It’s a perfect Sunday morning and I am floating free; free as the gulls above as they drift upon the sea breeze.
Welcome, dear reader, to the Lido in sunny Gourock.
The Gourock Lido??
Yes, Gourock, near Glasgow. On the upper firth of Clyde, or is that River Clyde? I know, it doesn’t sound attractive; an outdoor swimming pool in Scotland, filled with water from the River Clyde. Let’s just say when there’s talk of the Clyde it’s not usually of salmon leaping out of fresh water. In fact when I told family members from Glasgow we were going swimming in the Gourock Outdoor Pool, they just laughed and wished us luck.
The Gourock pool is no laughing matter
Well, we got lucky and now we’re laughing. In fresh salty water, under a Sunday sun. The water is clean, filtered and heated to a Mediterranean minimum of 29 degrees. That’s Centigrade you know. It’s a kind of Scottish miracle. And it’s better than Lorne sausage, deep fried mars bars and Irn Bru.
One of only two heated outdoor pools in Scotland
The Gourock Pool is one of only two heated outdoor pools left in Scotland (the other is in Stonehaven), and it’s been here for over 100 years. The original pool opened in 1909. Back then it was cold, tidal and had a sandy floor but not now. Heating was added in 1969 and now a 2010 £1.8m refurbishment has the place thoroughly updated with new changing facilities, a gym overlooking the river, a children’s pool and sun terrace. Yes, a sun terrace. In Scotland. I bet there were critics when the council announced that investment, but you won’t find them around this morning. Unless they are sunbathing quietly in a corner.
Mind you this isn’t just a fair-weather attraction. It’s open whatever the weather, well apart from thunderstorms. And the changing weather adds drama to the view from the poolside, out across the Clyde to Loch Long and beyond to the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Today with the bunting beating lightly in the wind it’s certainly warmer in the pool than out and there’s a bit of dashing for the changing rooms, but no-one seems to mind. After all, the sun is out.
Something for everyone
Judging by crowd the spruced up pool is proving popular with the local community. Poolside a group of lycra clad triathletes arrive, swapping bikes for trunks as they train for the Inverclyde Triathlon, hosted by the Pool in August. Meanwhile in the fast lane, there are people clocking up lengths for the Tom and Gerry challenge, trying to get ahead on the leader board of the Pool’s summer long race to swim 45 miles or 2100 lengths before the summer ends.
But it’s not all about swimming for sport nuts. The pool has a sense of fun too with regular midnight swims, kayaking lessons, pool parties, inflatable fun sessions and water polo. You can tell by the mix of people in the water that the place has wide appeal; with silvery Nans chatting in the deep end, kids splashing in the shallows, spectacled pensioners swimming slowly between the two, while local dudes hang loose in surf shorts and sunnies.
It’s salty, very salty
My kids aren’t that impressed though. “Eughh, this water’s really, really salty,” complains Hannah as she downs another mouthful. “I want to get out.”
But I won’t have this rare Scottish Sunday treat cut short.
I give her a towel and a pound and carry on floating.
“Aren’t you getting out? ” she asks.
“No. Go and get dressed then buy yourself an Irn Bru to take the taste away” I tell her.
“What’s Irn Bru?”
“Something Scottish to take the taste away”.