‘I visited London’s ‘secret beach’ in Ruislip that’s nowhere near the sea’
Ah, summer! I have fond memories of spending my childhood holidays in cheap resorts in France and Spain – where we would have a week of swimming in chlorine pools and eating as much as we wanted, and then head home in a hot car journey. It was total bliss and I don’t think I appreciated it enough at the time.
Fast forward to now – life could not be more different. I quickly reached adulthood, moved to London and never looked back. Holidays nowadays for me are exploring a new city in a different country or a weekend staycation in a coastal seaside resort.
But what if you could visit a place in London with almost no tourists in sight and feel like you’re on a mini holiday? Well, dear readers, let me introduce you to Ruislip Lido.
This reservoir and artificial beach is truly one of London’s best kept secrets – it is the ideal place to spend time outdoors, breathe some fresh air, and sit down with an ice cream as you take in the views.
The beauty of Ruislip Lido begins as soon as you get off the bus. I felt like I had been transported to a seaside town, with ice-cream trucks, charming little pubs and a sandy beach. You heard me correctly – there is a hidden beach in London. It felt so scandalous even saying it.
Having moved to London six months ago, pigeons and foxes were now the typical wildlife I’d see everyday. But not here – I was delighted to potentially see stoats, weasels, mink and even woodland birds. It made me shocked that I was genuinely interested in the behavior of buzzards – had London turned me into a monster? Apparently so.
I was also expecting the place to be packed with families as it was a glorious Friday afternoon, but the beach was more or less empty. There were plenty of runners and dog-walkers making their way around the lake, but the beach was pretty unspoilt. Win for me.
There was a cafe located right on the edge of the lake, which offered everything from paninis to salads to sorbet ice cream. It wasn’t the most mind-blowing cafe in the world for me, but I wasn’t fussed. I didn’t come here to dine under roses and bougainvillea.
I opted for some chips and an ice cream – simple and straightforward – just the way I would have liked it 15 years ago. As I parked myself on a wooden bench next to the waterfront, I felt like I was back in Center Parcs with my parents.
The family-friendly vibes, coupled with the playground, wooden sculptures, ice-cream kiosks and fishing platforms – this was just like a UK family holiday to me, but without hundreds of screaming tourists.
All I need now was some Ambre Solaire factor 6 suncream, the smell of chlorine and the sticky leftovers of a melted orange Calippo ice lolly. Few things evoke more powerful sensory memories than that.
If you’re in need of a chilled pint or cider overlooking the lake, there is the The Water’s Edge Stonehouse. This venue is perfect for watching the reservoir and the people walking along the pathways around the lake.
This place is an oasis of serenity in busy London, and should be your next sandy space of choice for when you want to feel like you’re far away from the city. It’s only a short tube journey from west London – so cancel your flights and spend your summer weekend break here. Trust me.
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