Sunday, 30 January 2011

A big splash

We stumbled on an enchanting pool in a tumbling stream on the edge of Dartmoor. The kind of place, edged with moss and luscious ferns, that dryads and water nymphs should inhabit. We probably frightened them all off because there were a couple of ropes and we had a real giggle swinging, Tarzan like, across the pool before dropping, er, daintily, into the water. Afterwards we had a bracing jacuzzi at the bottom of the waterfall that feeds the pool.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Shipwreck swimming

We arrived at Thurlestone to find the lowest tide we had ever seen. The landscape that is usually hidden underwater was revealed in all its secret beauty; it was as though God had pulled the plug out. We could have walked out to Thurlestone Rock; the reef it sits on was completely exposed. We saw some divers, as well as noticing something sticking out of the sea. I realised they were exploring a shipwreck. (in the picture above it is the small blobs in the distance). I swam out to it with my ten year old son, through the most beautifully clear and still water. It felt very strange and slightly creepy as we approached the wreck; there is something eerie about a sunken ship. We explored it, seeing a porthole and various pipework underwater. We couldn't resist climbing on top of it and waving before swimming back. By the time we reached the shore the ship was hidden again. Later I found out it is the wreck of the Louis Sheid. It's a Belgian steamship which ran aground in 1939. There is a sad story behind it. It was travelling through the Channel en route for Antwerp when it stopped to help another ship which had been attacked by German U boats. It then carried on, but the Captain decided to stay inshore, for fear of getting attacked by the U boats himself. However because of the blackout there were no lights along the coast, and the ship ran aground. Luckily everyone was rescued by the Salcombe lifeboat.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Wind and waves

Driving rain and howling wind didn't put us off our swim at Wonwell on the Erme estuary. In fact, on a day like that, why not get as wet and wild as possible? There were loads of windsurfers out- I've never seen so many in this little river mouth. We swam up river with the tide; when we turned round to come back we were hit by an assault of rain and waves in our faces...swimming was just too much like hard work so we waded back. Afterwards we had a jolly time getting warm in a friend's hot tub.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Avon winter float

The sky was an intense blue and the sun was out. We walked from Bigbury beach up along the Avon to Cockleridge Ham; it was nearly low tide and the river was heading towards the sea. The Ham is a big sandy bulge into the river; it's like being on a desert island. We slid into the river and let ourselves be carried was total pleasure just being in the water, lying on our backs looking up at the solid blue sky, with the sun on our faces. Bliss. My ten year old son made a video - watch it here.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Hope at Hope Cove and a seal to boot

Hope Cove is one of the prettiest coastal villages in Devon, with its tiny harbour and cute cottages, not to mention the lively pub with its New Year Morris Men. We swam from Outer to Inner Hope - from one beach to the next round a small headland - and on the way found Devon's answer to the Corryvreckan whirlpool. Best of all though was swimming into the harbour where a grey seal was there to greet us. We trod water, not wanting to break the spell. It would pop up and look at us for a while, before dropping its head back in the most uber-casual manner and disappearing into the depths. My friend Gareth did the swim with a video camera strapped to his head. You can see the film here.