Friday, 29 July 2011

Dartmoor delights

We set off along the Dart on high mushroom alert, after a reliable source tipped me off that Chanterelles were in evidence. Well indeed they were. This, on top of an unexpected Penny Bun find a few weeks ago, way earlier than normal, leads me to hope we might have a good fungi season. Anyway, Chanterelles safely gathered, we made our way to one of the most charming swimming spots on the Dart. There's a huge cliff down which someone has helpfully erected a metal climb down to a massive rock platform, ideal for jumping off. After our long sweaty walk, this was the perfect thing to do.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Fun at Froward

We set off to explore a section of the coastpath we'd never visited before, between Kingswear and Brixham. It was an idyllic English summer's day; at the top of the headland the corn swayed like water as we walked through the fields. We got to the edge near Froward Point and found the most stunning craggy cliffs with turquoise water below. The sea was calm and we leapt in off the rocks. The water was so clear, I swear I could see plankton...we definitely saw crabs and a starfish below. There were channels and even intriguing rocky islands to explore, with masses of noisy seabirds including cormorants, shags and terns.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Swimming to the pub a great idea. I started off at Cellars Beach at the mouth of the Yealm estuary, and swam up river with the tide. It was a fairly rough old day with a strong wind and a notable absence of sun, but it was a glorious and exhilarating experience nevetheless. A changeable journey from the rocky, choppy grey sea at the start, to the deep green yacht-packed river as I got further up. As I swam up the creek towards the pub, it got shallower and shallower, and the mud was deep, thick and silky. I tried to walk but quickly started to sink. The only thing was to pull myself out over the mud on my stomach, like some primeval creature evolving milllions of years ago from the murky depths. I made sure to do this round the corner from the Ship Inn, so as to emerge with a smidgeon of dignity.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Cracking Crab Shack

You know how when you're travelling along the French coast, little restaurants selling delicious crustacea are two a penny? Yet here, in our island nation, it's nigh impossible to find a place that serves up simply done seafood. Well today I found such a place. Rob, a fisherman in Teignmouth, had told me last winter about his plan to start a restaurant on the town's back beach. It opened at Easter and today we went to check it out. Bingo! I am absolutely raving about this place! We had oysters, the sweetest crab, as well as prawns and wickedly delicious fries on the side. You can also have great seafood platters. Everything was presented beautifully and the service was charming. We sat outside, watching the gulls and cormorants as well as all manner of passing craft. It's called the Crab Shack but sadly I can't provide a link as they don't have a website yet.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Swimming with seals (part 2)

Swimming with a seal sounds all very lovely but in reality it isn't. ..I think it's something to do with the sheer size of it and the fact it can swim up under you and take you by surprise. I was in Brixham, swimming between Fishcombe and Churston Coves. It is beautiful there. Crystal clear water, and I swam over the most ethereal eel grass beds, which are home to sea horses (but none were visible). I was happily absorbed in my watery world, watching fishes etc, when I noticed a dog in the water. I then did a classic Tom and Jerry style double take when I realised it was a seal...and made a beeline for the nearest rocks. I cowered there pathetically for a while before realising I would have to be brave otherwise I'd spend the rest of the day there. I made my way back, clinging to the shore all the way. Thanks to the girls in the lovely Cove Cafe at Fishcombe for looking after my stuff.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The Spitchwick Slither

We have a new swim to delight you: the Spitchwick Slither. You slide in at the top of the Deeper Marsh end of the river Dart, where there is a grand pool lined with sloping slabs of grey and black rock. Then it's down over the first set of rapids, slithering and sliding over the boulders and getting sucked through the gaps in between them. Wetsuit, gloves, boots, and most importantly, goggles are essential. The latter to spot the rocks looming up ahead. You then reach Higher Corner Pool - a slow, deep pause where you get pulled gently by the current. It's then alternate rapids and pools down to Lower Corner Pool where you emerged, invigorated and amused by the experience that is the Spitchwick Slither.