Ruislip Lido

Anusuya Mukherjee
Feb 14, 2024 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Oct 07, 2021
Overhead of the Ruislip Lido's beach and adventure playground.
Age: 0+
Read time: 5.1 Min

  • Spot water birds swimming as you relax on the beach.
  • Enjoy the 1.5-mile pleasant walk around the Lido surrounded by trees.
  • Speed around the Lido on the miniature railway, and see what’s hidden around the track.
  • Swing, climb and spin on the adventure playground, and dodge, duck, and dip around the obstacle course.

Ruislip Lido is a reservoir and artificial beach in Ruislip, Middlesex. It was initially a reservoir for the Grand Junction Canal in 1811 and was reopened by George W. Smith as a Lido in 1933. It was originally 330 feet deep but was drained partially due to flooding in the '90s. The narrow gauge miniature railway was opened in 1945, and is now Britain’s longest 12″ gauge miniature​ railway. It has gone under plenty of redevelopment over the years, but now is the perfect place for families with its wide variety of features.

Perhaps the most famous feature as one of the main beaches in London, follow in the footsteps of movie stars as you sit on the Ruislip Lido beach. The Young Ones with Cliff Richard was shot at the Lido, as well as A Night to Remember, where the large model of the RMS Titanic sank. Bring a picnic and eat as you watch the lapping water. The kids can run around the huge playground, including a pirate ship, climbing frames, swings, roundabouts and more. If they’re feeling hot after all the running around, there’s a splash pad right next to the beach with plenty of surprising water sprays to keep them entertained all day; perfect for a bit of London paddling.

If you’d prefer a short walk (around 30 minutes) along the 1.5-mile path, there’s still plenty to spot. If you choose to go past the boathouse, you’ll be able to see a model of the sun. The Walk the Planets Walk is a model of the solar system at a scale of five billion to one, with the eight planets spaced out along the walk. You can discover more about each planet, as well as features such as Ceres, and see pictures of them from space. A great way to get in a science lesson. Water birds such as swans, geese and a variety of ducks live along the Lido, and also breed there. There are some viewing binoculars dotted around the edge of the Lido. If you’ve decided to take a later walk, bats can be seen flying in the air, as Ruislip Woods is one of the best sites for bat viewing in the region. For children who don’t walk around the Lido, they will miss out on a smaller adventure playground set out like an obstacle course. With monkey bars, tire swings and more, kids can race against each other to see who can reach the end first. With the multitude of entrances and exits into Ruislip Woods, walks can be extended in plenty of different directions.

Ruislip Lido in the summer, packed with people.

The Lido’s miniature railway is one of the best features of the entire space. The journey takes you around the lake at Ruislip Lido, going through the ancient Ruislip Woods. There are two stations on the line where passengers can start and finish their journey. Woody Bay is near the beach, and was the original station built for the track. Willow Lawn station is located next to the car park and near The Water's Edge pub. At Willow Lawn station, passengers can observe the locomotive being turned on the turntable. The carriages are drawn by a diesel locomotive. Sometimes steam locomotive 'Mad Bess', which is a half scale version of the Ffestiniog Railway locomotive 'Blanche', may pull the train; however, it is currently out of service for its 10-year overhaul, so you may need to wait a little while. If you decide to visit the Lido close to Christmas time, the station puts on Santa Specials, where the train takes you from Willow Lawn station to Santa’s grotto to meet Father Christmas. Occasionally, Easter eye-spy also takes place.

Whether a relax, a walk, or a play is on the agenda, Ruislip Lido is the perfect free place to go to have a great day out, and we can help you keep safe with our advice about swimming pools and lidos.

What to know before you go

  • Please note that you cannot swim at the Lido. The water is considered unfit to swim in and it is highly recommended you do not do so; there is also no lifeguard available.
  • Ruislip Lido's opening time is 9am, 365 days a year. Closing times vary from month to month, ranging from 4pm to 9pm, so check before going.
  • The train runs from 12pm - 5.20pm most days of the year.
  • There are public toilets and changing rooms available, as well as baby-changing tables.
  • The Lido, its parking, and the miniature train are wheelchair and buggy accessible, although the Lido walk is not fully level and the woods around are uneven.
  • Feeling peckish? The Lido has three places to eat. The Water’s Edge Pub and Carvery serves pub food from 9am - 9pm on weekdays, and until 10pm on weekends, with a view of the Lido just outside the window. The San Remo Lakeside Cafe, or the Ruislip Lido Cafe, situated near the Woodland centre, serves coffee and tea, as well as lighter lunches and cake. There is also the Turntable Tea Room, run by volunteers, near the miniature railway station which serves snacks, tea and coffee.

Getting there

  • The Ruislip Lido postcode is HA4 7TY.
  • The Lido is accessible through multiple entrances through the surrounding woods.
  • Take Metropolitan or Piccadilly line services from Central London and Uxbridge to Ruislip Station. At Ruislip Station (bus stop B), take the H13 bus (Towards Ruislip Lido).
  • Ruislip Lido parking is available at the end of Reservoir Road, which is free for Hillingdon First card holders, £3.50 for the day from September to April, and £5 a day from May to August. There is no nearby parking to this, and the car park fills up quickly in the summer months.
  • You are able to take the miniature railway from the car park to the Lido beach, but it is also within walking distance.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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