One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Sweetly Sugary Cove

Just around the corner from Dartmouth Castle, Sugary Cove is as sweet and lovely as it sounds. The tide is high and we enter the cool, pale turquoise sea from the rocks then swim along to the gully. Cliffs tower above while gulls wheel overhead. A pair of nesting Oyster Catchers rush past, black and white with long orange beaks, they emit frequent squeaky-toy calls and should certainly be immortalised in plasticine by Nick Park. We dive down and see a large crab who quickly pulls a frond of seaweed over her shell like a wig, in an attempt to disguise herself.

Round the corner overlooked by the Castle is a cave where we play for a while. The pale, quartz-veined slabs close to the surface make the water pulse with colour. We swim back round the outside, where a gull guards a guano-iced rock and the Oyster Catchers reappear, circuiting us several times in alarm. The scent of sea bird wafts over us, while white-sheeted yachts sail silently past like ghosts.

We find another deep cave on the opposite side of the bay.  We’re pulled in and shooshed back; it’s like being caught in the wind-pipe of a living creature. The cold hits here under the damp, limpeted walls. We swim back to shore in sunshine through fragments of weed suspended in bright sea.


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