One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Dogless at Ladram Bay

We descend the hill through an ugly rash of caravans and blue signs pointing out everything from Swimming Pool to Caravan Sales. We reach the slipway and halt ahead of the NO DOGS sign. According to several websites dogs are allowed here, and Max, Michelle and I have chosen this place partly for this reason. We walk Frankepedo and Honey along the cliff path instead. A man with a Midlands accent rudely tells Michelle to put well-trained and innocent Frankie on the lead. The dogs are returned to the cars before we swim.

There are numerous people wandering around the caravan park, but there are only two others on the beach and the sea in the area below the slip smells of poo. This is not dog shit, but the result of untreated human sewage outfalls following recent heavy rain. I can accept dog bans on some popular beaches in summer but this is ridiculous. A fledgling gull huddles into the shingle; presumably she’s trying to avoid being banned too.

We edge out through painfully large pebbles into water that’s murky with red sand. We swim over bumpy waves into a maelstrom of wild seas between the fabulous sandstone stacks which are filled with holes like Hobbit Houses. It’s stunning, and lifts my spirits. Luckily, you can’t see the visual effluent of caravans from the sea.

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