Adventure Action Days Out Scotland

A taste of summer at Gourock Pool

Spectator at Gourock Outdoor Pool
Written by Stuart Wickes

Och Aye the Pool. A taste of summer at Gourock

Stuart Profile SmallI’m up to my neck in hot water. Hot salty water. Floating effortlessly under a summer sky.

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.

Gourock Outdoor Pool

Welcome to Gourock Outdoor Pool

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.

Looking across Firth of Clyde at Gourock Outdoor Pool

Looking across Firth of Clyde at Gourock Outdoor Pool. Yes, the pool water comes from here.

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.

Gourock Outdoor Pool

Looking down from the balcony you can see the pool, the Clyde and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park beyond.

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.

Gourock Pool

Excitement grows as we get to see the pool. But they don’t know it’s salty yet.

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.

Gourock Outdoor Pool

Beneath the bunting the main pool is heated to 29 degrees. No wonder no-one wants to get out.

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”.

Swimming Trunks Drying at Gourock Outdoor Pool

There’s not many days you can dry your trunks at Gourock Outdoor Pool. But this was one of them.

About the author

Stuart Wickes

Stuart's the adventure addict half of the team, always trying to persuade the family to get out, do more, go further. As co-founder and co-director he handles the business, creative, design, technical and publishing aspects of the project. He is our chief photographer and videographer. With training as a professional learning and development consultant. an engineer and musician, his contribution is eclectic and unpredictable!


  • we went a couple of weekends ago – the water was divine, the wind howling a gale and the rain was bouncing off the ground but it was FANTASTIC! and the midnight swims are just amazing.
    having grown up in east Lothian, I learnt to swim at north Berwick outdoor pool which is sadly no longer open – my love of outdoor swimming has led to my interest in wild swimming – there is nothing better! so the water was salty, but what did the kids think of the irn bru?

  • It certainly has been a good few weeks for a drop of outdoor swimming.

    We took our children to Beccles Lido in Suffolk last week; you can’t beat swimming in the fresh air.

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