A rising number of hardy swimmers are braving the elements to take a dip in Scotland’s outdoor pools.
Across the country, open-air baths have recorded a huge surge in numbers taking the plunge.
The golden age of lidos was the 1930s when 169 outdoor pools were built across the UK.
But the facilities fell out of fashion when foreign travel became less expensive and the majority of them closed.
In an unlikely revival, saltwater open air pools in Gourock and Stonehaven reported a rising number of swimmers braving the coastal winds to take a dip.
And the number of visitors to Scotland’s only freshwater open air pool, in New Cumnock, trebled from 12,000 in 2017 to almost 38,000 last year.
The attraction opened in 1966 but fell into disrepair before a refurbishment two years ago.
It was spearheaded by the Prince’s Foundation, a charity set up by Prince Charles. The Duke of Rothesay, as he is known in Scotland, reopened the pool in June 2017 and that year, 11,970 people visited.
Last year 37,672 people took a dip at New Cumnock pool and Gordon Neil, deputy executive director of The Prince’s Foundation, which runs the facility, expects another jump in visitor numbers this year.
He said: “Since its renovation, New Cumnock swimming pool has gone from being a facility used predominantly by the local community to a major tourist draw for Ayrshire.
“While it is still well-used by local people, including classes from schools and individuals who sign up for fitness and exercise classes, we are seeing from the visitors’ book that an increasing number of people are travelling from other parts of Scotland, the UK, and Europe to sample the novelty of outdoor swimming in Scotland.
“Local people say they love having a modern, family-friendly pool on their doorstep.
“Visitors from further afield seem surprised but delighted at being able to sample a lido culture normally synonymous with the Mediterranean.”
Stonehaven’s outdoor pool opened in 1934. In the following year, 43,000 bathers took a dip. Last year more than 37,000 people swam there, up from around 30,000 in 2017.
Pete Hill, chairman of Friends Of Stonehaven Open Air Pool, said: “In 1994 the newly-formed Aberdeenshire Council’s first act was to try to close the pool as a cost-saving measure.
“The response from Stonehaven was swift, unambiguous and furious – and the Friends Of Stonehaven Open Air Pool were formed.”
The pressure group began carrying out repairs and became a registered charity to apply for grants and promote the benefits of the pool, which is still owned and operated by the council.
Pete Hill said: “The pool is a survivor and the Friends Of The Pool were the saviours. Many other open-air pools built around the same time were not so lucky and the roll-call of the dead and demolished ones is distressingly long.”
Gourock Outdoor Pool is the oldest in Scotland, first opening in 1909.
Among the new events attracting a growing number of visitors to the pool are water discos and starlight swims.
Inverclyde Council, which recently spent £1.8m renovating the facility, recorded 41,000 visitors last year, up from 30,000 in the previous year.
Inverclyde councillor Jim Clocherty said: “The Gourock Outdoor pool is a very popular venue. It has fantastic views out over the Clyde.
“Last year we extended the opening hours and we also benefited from the exceptional summer weather, which hit 32°C on some days.”
Hot weather is not guaranteed in Scotland but the country’s remaining heated outdoor pools mean swimmers can still feel like they’re in the Mediterranean when the sun shines.