One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Birthday Burgh

A sunny, calm afternoon for a swim and beach party to celebrate the birthdays of Stephanie and Kari. Jonathan inflated red heart balloons with helium and attached them to each swimmer; my heart appropriately gathered sea-drops and hovered just above the surface as I swam.

We found the entrance to Death Valley, the fearsome gully between the island and the high part of the reef; today in the calm low tide only a ghostly presence was manifest. As the tide gently swooshed in and out, submerged seaweeds flowed one way then the other like mermaids’ hair. Pale pink rocks sang through pale blue water.

Cormorants and Oyster Catchers flew towards the land, the latter filling the air with their squeaky-toy calls. Gulls settled down to roost as the sun dropped lower.  The cool shades of blue and grey where sea met sky were infused with a pinky-peach layer like strawberry jelly in a trifle. The surface of the water assumed the texture and colour of mercury in the metallic light.

I’d have loved to dawdle, but it was way too cold so I swam the back of the island in front crawl and worked my way through the rocky maze below the hotel, before running across the sand-bar back to our spot below the Pilchard Inn. I managed to change despite the coarse shivering that indicates mild hypothermia. Then we shared snacks, home-made cakes, mulled cider and Prosecco and sang Happy Birthday as the sun set. A perfect afternoon.


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