Imagine a lake with sandy beach surrounded by woods, but in Greater London. Yes it does exist – it is Ruislip Lido in old Middlesex. Administered by the London Borough of Hillingdon, the Lido is free to enter, yet has many welcome facilities one would not expect.
It is relatively unspoilt, and very popular during Summer weekends, and school holidays in particular. The large free car park is not big enough during busy times. The car park does have many disabled spaces near the entrance. There is a local bus connection from Ruislip town.
The attraction boasts something for everyone – walkers, cyclists, horse riders and train enthusiasts. Family beach users probably make up the largest number though. The sandy beach is very popular, but use of the water was prohibited due to a large area of floating algae. However there were outdoor water play areas with good playground equipment. Overlooking the beach are toilets, a cafe and the Ruislip Lido Railway.
Arriving at the Lido, one sees The "Water's Edge" – a large carvery type pub. In spite of the splendid view from the premises, facilities here are not so good. There were no cakes to go with the coffee, as advertised. No toilet paper in the disabled loo, and no one visible to report this.
The modest Cafe (run by the Ruislip Lido Railway) at the beach however did offer an amazing range of freshly prepared food, quickly and at good prices. However beware of the take away hot drink containers – inadequate and too hot to handle safely!
The Ruislip Lido Railway is a must. just £2.50 return ( no reduction for seniors) from the entrance to Woody Bay, by the beach. Diesel and steam at certain times haul the long trains over the two and a half mile round trip. There are open and covered seats, with space for buggies. The line travels through Ruislip Woods and is quite spectacular. This is Britain's longest 12 inch guage railway. The Railway shop was closed during my visit, but when open sells a range of merchandise.
A step free tarmac path surrounds the lake, and follows the course of the railway around the lake. Even when busy it is possible to escape the crowded beach area.
There is much wildlife to observe. Take some food to feed the ducks, geese and swans.
This is a memorable free attraction to visit, and I am sure you will wish to return.