F*#@ing Freezing Fingle
Two weeks of non-swimming with a virus and I was so ready for a refreshing dip with Dan in the Teign at Fingle Bridge. Honey and I arrived and walked to the bridge; a scene of muted winter-woodland colours livened by splashes of fox-coloured beech leaves. The river here is murkier than the Dart, the colour and temperature of brass monkeys.
We walked up through the gorge, nippy air and diaphanous mist curling from the river’s surface. Sounds came and went; the crash of Honey hurtling after squirrels, the odd drift of birdsong, and watery plinks and tinkles, then a crescendo of white noise from the salmon leaps below Castle Drogo. We had hoped to dip here in the crazy cold jacuzzi, but the surge of angry water looked wilder than our bodies could withstand.
I wore my surfing wetsuit and boots. Standing thigh-deep in the pool I felt the icy fingers of 6-degree water scratch their way up my calves. My hands burned with the cold, my head felt as though it was in a vice and my vision was blurred by the mist emanating from the water. The effect was of a freezing migraine. I managed to swim for around a minute before leaping out.
Dan bravely floated up and down wearing only his budgie-smugglers, though I suspect his budgies were hiding higher up. He leapt out with skin glowing brighter than the logs in the pub wood-burner where we warmed up afterwards.