One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

A Battering in the Erme

We trot up the path through Long Timber Woods the day after heavy downpours had left the moorland rivers in spate. Entering a large, deep pool I feel the chill of recent rain and swim in dark brown water before Maretta and I float and bump downstream over rocky shallows and falls.

Jackie joins us off and on, having never descended a river before. We slide over slabs into effervescent pools, popping up through the spray like ice cubes dropped into G&T. 

Many of the rocks are cushioned by thick moss, so we are spared a proper battering and it’s unusually easy to stop or get clear of stronger currents and stoppers.

There’s a six-foot drop off one side of a biggish waterfall into a mini-canyon between boulders, followed by a scarily turbulent sequence of falls.

I slide off the drop and tip up as I hit the deep water, emerging to see the edge of the more dangerous cascade approaching fast. I push back, and am immediately submerged by the force of the water. I manage to escape, and Maretta follows me over. I wait and catch her hand to pull her clear.

Shivering, we leave the river and wend our way back up the path to the viaduct; the roar of the cascades fades into the roar of traffic climbing the hill.

Watch WWS’s ‘controlled descent’ of the big waterfall here, complete with cackling from the bank! (With thanks to Jackie and Sue): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvFUbB3m2mY&feature=youtu.be


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