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London: Lido Swim and Campfire with Secret Adventures

Author: Emma Higgins  //  May 4th 2016


Against the black night sky, the water of London Fields lido glowed a luminous blue-white. Steam rose from pool and dissipated into the February air, along with a constant splish-splosh and hum of chatter. The fast lanes were filled with practising swimming teams, while people in the slow lanes maintained a leisurely breast stroke side-by-side with friends. I, however, was out for a lido swim with fifteen strangers.


secret adventures, london fields lido, things to do in londonPhoto by Naomi Goggin via Secret Adventures


Secret Adventures was my host for the evening. The project is the invention of keen explorer Madoc Threipland who, after years of travelling and working abroad, couldn’t shift his ache for adventure after he returned to the UK. He created the company with the intention of showing people that you don’t have to go far from home to feel the thrill of new discoveries.

This sentiment is proved with Secret Adventures’ packed schedule of events: night kayaks on the Thames, full moon swims, paddles along canals, and solstice weekends. Most of the adventures take place in London, but the company has also gone further afield in the UK and beyond – even as far as the Arctic Circle.

These lido swims have become one of the company’s regular events. As I shook hands over introductions with other members of the group, I learnt that quite a few of them had been on these swims before, and on other little trips with Madoc. That said, there were a few other newbies so I wasn’t the only fledgling.

It was easy to pick up on the common threads between us: easy-going, friendly, and eager for interesting things to do with interesting people. That’s part of the beauty of what Secret Adventures does – it not only connects you with unusual evenings and weekends away, but also with the kind of likeminded folk into adventure too.


london adventures, things to do in london, offbeat things to do in london


After our dip in the lido, we hauled a fire bowl, tarpaulin, drinks and snacks across London Fields and set up our campfire. It wasn’t long before a barren patch of grass in the park turned into a comfy arrangement of blankets around a roaring fire that was impossible not to hold your hands up to.

We unpacked our bags full of food. Open packets of crisps were passed around with tubs of guacamole, and wine was shared out in plastic cups. A smoky, woody smell soon covered the scent of damp grass, and an orange glow spilled across our faces.

As the night grew on, rapports were created and the group began to chat as a whole. As we toasted our own, debates started about the optimum marshmallow roasting time. (Since you ask, you hold a marshmallow over a fire until it sets alight, then blow it out to find that perfect crisp-outside-gooey-inside texture. At least that was my argument anyway.)


things to do in london, london swimming, london fieldsPhoto by Naomi Goggin via Secret Adventures


We said goodbye later that night knowing a little bit more about a dozen strangers. We packed up camp and left no trace, and each went our separate ways by car, tube, and bus. When I got home I realised how easy and simple an evening it had been and yet I felt like I had done something far from the ordinary.

Modern life is filled with frustration and hustle, grind and routine, especially in a city like London. These evenings with Secret Adventures are a remedy for that, and a way to reset yourself into what it is to be human. To breathe fresh air, to eat good food, and to interact with other people and learn more about each other.

The exhilaration of the outdoors coupled with the crowd of new people you meet makes an evening with Secret Adventures one of the most exciting things to do in London. With an events schedule that fits around even the most hectic of 9-5 jobs, there’s almost no excuse not to get out into the wild with some strangers for a while.


Would you join Secret Adventures for a night?


One response to “London: Lido Swim and Campfire with Secret Adventures”

  1. Madoc Threipland says:

    Looks great! x

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