Monday, 20 June 2016


Image by Avigail Kahana
It's been a busy few weeks, hence fewer blogs.  Why? Well my great pal Matt and I have been launching our new book, Wild Swimming Walks: Dartmoor and South Devon. We kicked off with - even though I say it myself - a rather stylish event at Delamore House, a stately pile on the edge of the Moor.   It's owned by the lovely Nicky and Gavin Dollard who didn't bat an eyelid when we asked if our guests could swim in the lake - in fact they thought it was a brilliant idea.   So one May afternoon lots of people turned up, swam to the strains of a wind-up gramophone on the bank,  and then looked at the amazing art in the gardens and house (and also consumed some Prosecco).  Then, a few weeks later, our wonderful friends Queenie and Kate who are starting a new restaurant in Paignton, Cantina, hosted a pop-up bistro for us at Goodrington Park, right by the sea.  It was the hottest day of the year and we celebrated with the most delicious swim and even more delicious paella cooked by Kate. Happy times.

Monday, 13 June 2016

The Dart Slither

Setting out
One Sunday morning at 0745 hours we rendez-voused in New Bridge car park in our guerilla gear: head to toe neoprene accessorised with boots and gloves. The plan: to swim/scramble/slither all the way down the Dart Gorge from Dartmeet to Newbridge.  There was much speculation as to the time it would take. (Walking it takes about 4 hours). The party having assembled, we squashed into one car and headed up to the start.   We set off down the path by the river and walked to our usual first pool.  We stayed in the water and started our descent. We went through channels, climbed over boulders, and dragged ourselves through narrow cascades, discovering that goggles were essential to spot looming rocks.   We soon realised that swimming was going to be the least frequent activity; but when we hit a pool, ah the relief!  Some of the 'swooshing' was quite hair-raising. At one point I got wedged as the water pinned me to a rock; fortunately my natural padding prevented me from getting hurt. Halfway down we stopped and feasted on sodden Marmite sandwiches: our supposedly waterproof rucksacks had not proved up to the job.  Eventually, 6 hours later, we arrived at New Bridge; even the dogs were totally exhausted.
The first pool 

Negotiating boulders

A much-needed stop

Broada Steps
The sodden Marmite sandwiches