One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Wrecked at Charlestown

To get to the sea at Charlestown, you pass the Museum of Shipwrecks and a couple of tall ships in the dock. Cold, grey sea and splatting rain marked our arrival and we set off on a proper swim, by which I mean full throttle and no exploring. One of the Plymouth contingent was so fast she left a wake, and as Hugo said ‘kept going back and forth between groups like a labrador’.

It was calmer than it’s been for a while, so swimming was easy. We headed from point to point and stopped occasionally to regroup, watching people watching us from the harbour wall and the nearby beaches. A group of cormorants sat on a rock; I was tempted to join them.

Eventually, we turned back. I got into the zone and kept going through my tiredness, swimming alongside Kirsty. We realised we’d been pushed too far by the current, and had to swim back towards the beach through a miasma of poo. I finally got my feet down a few feet from the steep, shingle beach and staggered to the shore. A wave around four inches high knocked me sideways before my blood-pressure had adjusted. I was completely unable to stand, and was washed around in the wavelets, spreadeagled and wrecked on this shore like so many ships before me.

We changed in the wind tunnel at the top of the beach. I warmed up helping a puffing Hugo out of his new wetsuit, which is formed from several overlapping layers like a corn cob. Between grunts, he issued a barrage of death-threats to Pauline as she photographed the event. Sadly, she believed him so no photos here!


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