I am, as fellow blogger Lynne put it, a broken woman. But only in the physical sense, and I'll recover in a day or two. Why? Well I fulfilled a long-held dream to swim a 3 mile bulge of the Dart between Staverton and Totnes, and what's more I did it with a lovely bunch of people. It took us about an hour to get ready by the time we'd all arrived, chatted, sorted out car logistics, and driven back up to the start. We got in at Staverton Mill where the river is smooth, fast flowing and eminently swimmable...but were soon grounded as the river shallowed and then turned into rapids. It was then a combination of slithering, walking and swimming until we reached Still Pool, where there is a rope swing and mini-cliff. More crawling, and then finally it got deeper as we arrived at the waters below Dartington Hall for the final stretch. This I had assumed would be easy, but I hadn't taken into account the majestic wideness of the river. There was hardly any current to carry us, and the water felt almost viscous, treacle-like; sensual but also hard-going, especially after two miles of scrambling/swimming/walking. Lynne and I were swimming together at the back of the group and were pretty exhausted by now; we got slower and slower, and eventually dragged ourselves out up the bank like prehistoric mudfish, before walking on wobbly legs back to the cars. But what a swim! A journey through a tunnel of green, with a constant dappling of light like a kaleidoscope as we moved over a gorgeous mosaic of stones, some almost jade in colour. The water fizzed with gold-streaked minnows. But the highlight was the gnome garden high on a bank above the railway line. There must have been at least fifty of the wizened little creatures watching us swim by.
Thanks to Allan Macfadyen and Stephanie Simon for the pictures.