One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Sharrah Pool, Nifty Dip

Sharrah Pool on the Double Dart, a calm, warmish winter’s day. JJ and Stephanie arrived from their ‘Wildathlon’ which involves a cycle ride from Ashburton, a run to Sharrah, a dip, and then back. Honey ran nuttily after squirrels, while I speed-walked up to join in with the dip.

The water is around 8ºc. ‘This is really quite warm’ I said as I swam from the rocks, still glowing from my 30-minute pant through the winter woods. JJ had been in for a couple of minutes by then, and some unusual strangled sounds were still audible above the surge of the river where he swam in head-up front crawl. He had the look of Conan the Barbarian on a dangerous mission. A school of kayaks overtook him as he tried to look even more cool (not difficult in this temperature) by floating casually on his back.

I began to breast-stroke upstream, quickly dipping my salty, sweaty face in the lovely, bog-brown water. Suddenly, my body realised how cold it was as the river stole the last of the heat from my muscles. I looked towards the falls, hoping that the sight of such beauty would stun the pain. Stephanie stood on the rock up to her knees, and with encouragement from JJ dunked in, pulling the kind of face you normally only see on a woman in the final stages of labour. She shot back out like a champagne cork, to be quickly joined by me. Refreshing. Yes. Very.


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