Once again, temperatures are set to shatter the mercury as the UK and Ireland hurtles towards more unbearably hot days.
But rather than seeking sunshine, many of us will be hunting down shade and a refreshing breeze. Right now, it’s a case of dodging rays, rather than basking in them.
Fortunately, there are several places where it’s possible to escape the swelter. Here’s our selection of the coolest spots.
If you’re stuck in London
On a hot day back in the 13th century, King Henry III would apparently put his pet polar bear in the Thames for a cooling dip. Although you’re unlikely to run into an apex predator (or person) swimming through central London, England’s longest river does present plenty of opportunities to chill out. Located just outside Marlow (with free parking), Boat Rental Thames can rent water bikes (£19.50 per hour), kayaks (£50 per day), paddleboards (£50 per day), canoes and electric boats (£149 for a half day). Visit boatrentalthames.com.
If you want water without the waves
Designed in the 1930s, the triangular Art Deco Jubilee Pool in Cornwall is the largest sea water pool in the UK. An impressive five million litres of natural, unfiltered sea water flow into the space, allowing swimmers to enjoy the salty sensation of an ocean swim without the fierce, unpredictable waves. Water is typically around two degrees warmer in the pool, and there’s also a geothermally heated section for those who prefer bathwater temperatures. An adult swim costs from £6; children from £4.50; under 4s are free. Visit jubileepool.co.uk.
If you crave crowd-free beaches
The further north you go, the cooler it gets. Backed by large sand dunes and a loch in Kinlochbervie, pretty Sandwood Bay is often touted as the UK’s most beautiful beach. With no road access, it’s certainly one of the most remote stretches; arrive by foot on a four-mile path from Blairmore. Expect to find a stretch of pink sand backed by cliffs – but far fewer crowds than you’d run into down south.
If you want to dive in
It’s an activity typically associated with warmer climates. Well, now that happens to be here. Although not as exotic as the Maldives or Indonesia, the waters around Ireland do have their own treasures to share. From Killary Harbour, a fjord on the west coast, divers can explore shipwrecks and weave through kelp beds, encountering lobsters, conger eels and large schools of pollack. PADI accredited centre Scuba Dive West can arrange dives. Visit scubadivewest.com.
If you need a wellbeing boost
Chill out both physically and mentally at a new water therapy centre constructed on the site of a former goat farm. Built over calcite crystals, praised for their therapeutic benefits, an innovative wellbeing lake sprawls across seven acres at Ocean Walker Academy’s Crystal Lake in Lincolnshire. Along with general paddles, there are swim with dog sessions (where floating toys are allowed), sound healing and night dips. An open water swim costs £9.50 for one hour, but must be booked in advance. Visit oceanwalkeracademy.com.
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