One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Horndon Clam

We all spent the day on tenterhooks while Queenie and JJ slogged through their epic Channel swim. They left Dover just after 2am, but following seasickness and extreme cold they were forced to stop around thirteen hours later, just three miles from their goal. Queenie and JJ, all your swimming friends are in awe of your courage, stamina and strength.

I feel devastated for my friends, so Honey and I set off to Horndon Clam on the river Tavy, near where we live. We clamber down the track and take the tiny path upstream from the Clam through the woods. We pass twisty oaks, luscious bracken and orchids. The fields on the far side are edged with Dartmoor bunting of barbed wire hung with sheeps’ wool flags.

It’s still baking hot and I feel sweat prickling my skin and every so often there’s a sharp itch where a cleg fly bites. Honey and I dip by the little falls and are cleansed by sparkling bubbles which seem to release stress as they burst. They’re silver at the surface where the sun catches them, fading to pale amber in deeper water.

We walk back and slide into the deep pool. It’s black and still, soaked with reflected colour. I float downstream so as not to disturb the calm, then swim back up. The current’s almost invisible here until I swim against it and the water pushes over my face and shoulders. A pair of wrens watch from low down in a tree, and fly off trilling as Honey shakes the water from her coat.


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2 thoughts on “Horndon Clam

  1. This is one of my favourite walks and we took our children swimming here when they were little. Never thought of getting in there myself though!

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