Friday, 27 March 2015

The excitements of Dartmoor

Sometimes it's just non-stop thrills.  Today on Dartmoor we had waterfalls, plunge pools,  real live soldiers letting off explosions and firing guns, and mysterious underground chambers.  We set off from Okehampton up the brilliantly bubbly East Okement River where we frolicked in the numerous frothy pools, before heading out onto the Moor past the Nine Maidens stone circle and down to Cullever Steps. Here we found a military exercise in progress, complete with bangs and smoke (although they were firing blanks).  Then it was up and over into the next valley where we lolled around in the peaceful waters of the River Taw whilst gazing up at mountainous Steeperton Tor above.  Then, on the way back towards Belstone we noticed what looked like a sunken bunker, with strange glass and metal hatches.  Imaginations immediately started running riot with thoughts of waterboarding and other nefarious uses, but a little research showed this was an ill-fated attempted in the 1950s to extract water from underground. Thanks to Lynne for the photo of me swimming.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Dimpsy swimming

Today started dull, but by the afternoon the sun was out, and it was warm and hazy, and everything felt alive and zingy with the promise of Spring.  I even started to get rather hot.   Of course the minute this happens one's thoughts immediately turn to a nice swim, and I wanted to be on top of the Moor, out in the sunshine.   By the time we got up there though, although there were a few pink streaks in the sky, the opportunity for a sunset swim had passed, and the temperatures were falling rapidly.  It was still beautiful though. The lake was wreathed with hazy mist and it was a most magical, if rather chilly swim.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Swimming in the morning mist

We met up for a breakast swim in Torquay.   The sun was rising through the mist, an eerie, almost smoky greyness was everywhere, and it felt magical and blurred.   

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Swimming on the radio

In my day job I am a reporter for the BBC, and today we were doing an outside broadcast based in glorious Brixham, looking at tourism and the wonderful things to do here in Devon.  Well naturally a 'live' outdoor swim seemed like a brilliant idea, and so 7am found me down on Breakwater Beach with the radio car, clad in my swimmers whilst wearing headphones and talking into a microphone. (Undoubtedly the most unusual get-up in my professional life so far). Fortunately I had some lovely chums who'd agreed to come down and wax lyrical about the joys of wild swimming, after which we ran down the shingle and into the water; all of which was relayed live to the listeners of BBC Radio Devon.  (at this point I left the equipment on the beach to avoid electrocution). 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Swimming out to sea

It was a dank old morning on Dartmoor, and as I drove over towards Torquay I was bracing myself for one of those rather overcast and dull swims.   But as I got nearer the coast, the sun started to come out, and by the time I met Jackie, Anne and Kay at Maidencombe it was feeling positively spring-like.  As we walked down the steps to the beach the sea spread out like a vast blue blanket, and I could see a splash of yellow primroses growing half-way up the cliff.   We got in, and swam along the northerly arm of the beach, past the intricate geometry of the red sandstone blocks which cluster the bottom of the cliff, and out to the edge of the cove, where we could see all the way up the coast to Shaldon.   I've never swum out to this point before, and when I looked back I had a whole new perspective on the beach.     Thanks to Jackie and Anne for their pictures.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

A swift Spring swim

Outside my window the blossom is out.  Birds are singing.  The sun is shining.   Inwardly, I am letting out a huge sigh of relief, because it finally seems that Spring is here.  Today, Anna and I were finishing our session in the Torture Chamber (aka the gym) and we emerged, at about five fifteen, to glorious sunshine and LIGHT.  Spontaneously, we decided on a swim, and popped to our nearest pool on the Dart, the one we call the SSS (the swift swimming solution).  We arrived to find the dwarf daffodils out, and the water smooth and inviting, with golden reflections of the clouds above.  We were unprepared, so wore socks (plus in Anna's case, trainers) to keep our feet warm, which were surprisingly effective, so much so that we wondered why we bother spending money on wet shoes.  The water was achingly cold on our unprotected hands,  but delicious.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Traces of history

Anna and I set off along the coast path, hoping to swim at Bugle Hole, but the swell was rather daunting so we decided not to risk it.  We returned to the main beach at Mothecombe where we were both a little nervous about getting in, having just returned from the balmy waters of the Red Sea.   We dodged the rollers as we gradually submerged, and then headed over to the ruined tidal pool that we'd spotted from the cliff path above.   As we explored it, overshadowed by the old WW2 pill box, it occurred to me that we were swimming in an interesting archeological site.  The beach and the local area are part of the Flete Estate.  The estate's website explains that the pool was built in 1875, but that unfortunately the Home Guard blew a hole in it before they left at the end of the war.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

An English rainforest

I have long been curious about the waterfalls at Colly Brook, so got in touch with Wildwomanswimming who knows that neck of the woods around Tavistock really well.  Naturally she offered to show me. The anticipation built as we approached, because we could hear the frantic rush of the brook before we saw it,.  When it finally came into view it was stunning. Ferns and luxuriant green mosses were everywhere, with white water foaming down a series of waterfalls, steps, holes, pools and jacuzzis.  There was an exhilarating sense of buzzing energy, of ozone filling the air.   We climbed up to the top to admire all the waterfalls, before coming back down and picking our pool, where we plunged and and got a pummelling in the deep area around the bottom of the waterfall.    A veritable natural spa.

Monday, 5 January 2015

What a difference a degree or two makes

The Dart is well known for being a flashy river - up and down like a tart's drawers as someone remarked.  When we arrived for our regular Sunday dip there was a tide mark of twigs on the grass, showing that the river must have been really high in the last day or so.   When we got in it felt distinctly warmer than our last swim a week before.  For a start, I didn't have the feeling of millions of tiny daggers pricking my legs as I took the plunge, which I've had the last couple of times we've swam.  It turned out to be nearly three  degrees warmer - 7.7 - which made a big difference.

Into the Juliet Cave

It was grey and wet, a not very inspiring day for a swim, but Anne had suggested a dip at Oddicombe, Torquay.  When we got there the sea was flat and the sun was trying to break through...though it was still drizzling.  We changed under the shelter of the boarded-up cafe, and walked down to the water, where the shingle shelved sharply as we got in.  The sea was lovely, not too cold and we bobbed about for a bit before heading to the northern end of the beach to look at the old Gentlemen's Bathing Place and the Juliet Cave.  The latter is so-called because you can climb into an 'upstairs' which has a 'balcony' overlooking the sea below.  It was very dark inside but a great thrill to get in and look down, like Juliet, from above. I did a little video which you can see below.  I decided to walk back along the beach as I was finding it very difficult to swim as I was wearing a wetsuit, and on the way noticed the perfect little natural footbath - it even had indentations around it for 'seats'.