Monday, 30 April 2012

Thurlestone Thrills

We drove to Thurlestone in howling gales and torrential rain, past broken trees and debris on the roads. Was this going to be one of the wildest swims ever? On arrival at the beach we were virtually blown off the cliff. And yet, because the winds were from the NE, the sea was actually quite flat, though the surface was constantly patterned by rogue gusts of wind. To our surprise, when we got in the water the visibility was brilliant; swimming off from the shore we travelled over the beautiful shingle shelf, and out towards the Rock, which stood firm, its chunky legs straddled across the water. Drops of rain fell like little diamonds. When we got to the arch the wind decided to play with us, pushing us back and forth, and unceremoniously spattering us with showers of surface water. Afterwards, doing a Houdini-style change in an increasingly steamed up car, and warming up with tots of brandy, we reflected that the sea was definitely the place to be on such a wild and wet day.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Amazing Anstey's

Giovanna was down for the weekend and naturally I wanted to show her Devon's beauty. Where else to go but Anstey's Cove in Torquay? There is something so ethereal about the first glimpse of the pointed pinnacle rising above the vibrant sea. You see it framed by the green, ivy covered woods as you walk down to the shore; if feels like a scene from Sleeping Beauty. And all this after having driven through miles of suburb. Once we were actually in the sea it was a different colour from when seen from the shore; sparkling jade, exhilarating to swim through.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Mission Improbable

Some people dive for treasure. Others dive for, well, rowlocks. Anna and I had been summoned, 'in extremis' by James who had unfortunately lost his left rowlock. (or was it his right? Not sure, anyway, a man definitely doesn't want to be without either of his rowlocks.) We arrived at James' lake to find a letter held down by a stone on the jetty, with a hand-drawn map of the 'search area' and a note telling us we could keep any gold bars we found at the bottom, but could he please have his rowlock if we found it. Anna and I decided to try and be like the police and do a systematic search. We marked out an imaginary grid and went up and down, diving down and swimming along the bottom. Unfortunately all we could see was the odd stone and lots of tadpoles. Of the rowlock there was no sign. B*ll*cks to rowlocks.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The seal of Bell Rock

April is anarchic. Hailstones rattled down on the car as we drove towards Maidencombe. But on arrival, the sun came out and the sea spread out before us like a huge swathe of ivy-green velvet. We swam south along the coastline, marvelling at the huge red boulders tumbled at the bottom of the cliffs like piles of overgrown bricks. We passed Shackley Bench - a vast slab of rock sticking out at a right angle from the cliff and clustered with seagulls - and swam on towards the Bell - a pointy island topped with a green crew-cut. It was then that I heard the cry "there's a seal"! Not again. I made a beeline for the nearest rock, and sat there, with various other members of the party, trying to spot our blubbery friend. He popped up and down several times. Soon we realised we couldn't sit on the rock all day, and would have to be brave. We got back in, and continued towards the Bell, intending to swim through its "Eye of the Needle". Only one problem - as soon as we got there, Mr Seal popped up again. We scarpered pronto. He then swam away - and we swam back....and through the arch. It was spectacular. Mr Seal accompanied us all the way back to the beach.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The Ham Stone Adventure

Many times have I swum at Soar Mill Cove....and many times have I gazed out longingly at the Ham Stone, wanting to swim to it. (it's one of many features with a porcine theme off the South Devon coast; others include Gammon Head and Pig's Nose). Well today was the day I finally did it. Steph and I swam out through aquamarine sea; it was so clear we could still see the bottom about half way out to the island. As we approached, we realised it was two islands; a twisting gully separated them and we swam through, past huge ropes of weed that hung like a giantess's tresses. Well, I say we swam through, it's truer to say we were sucked through; there were deliriousy giddy eddies and whirlpools created by the force of the water. The water level dropped and rose anarchically as we were pulled along, cackling and screaming.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Spring at Sharrah Pool

Today, walking through the woods in warm sunshine, the birds twittering around us, acid green buds appearing on the trees, and primroses and violets all around, it felt ludicrously like Spring. Sunbeams filtered through the branches and glittered on the beautiful - if rather low - waters of the Dart. If I'm honest, I was dreading getting in the water. I have avoided the river all winter. Its icy-dagger coldness is not something I enjoy in the dark months. Today though, it was time to make friends with the Dart again. And I am amazed to report that it was wonderful. Yes, of course it was cold, but I managed to get through the pain barrier and after about two minutes I was loving it. The water was so clear and clean and its freshness is exhilarating. Roll on summer!