wildwomanswimming

One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Archive for the month “May, 2013”

Dartmoor Lemsip

Cleansing Bubbles

Lemsip Bubbles, Without the Nasty Taste

 

Modigliani Heads

Modigliani Heads

I’ve just completed a run of busy shifts and am dog tired with a heavy cold. Several months worth of Dartmoor winter fog has congealed around every cell in my head and chest. Honey and I head off for the Lyd, but it’s struggle to walk down the track towards the clam into the wintry headwind. Usually a trotter, today I’m plodding at the pace of a townie handbag dog.  The scent of sheep wee worms through the snot and the bleats of lambs swirl around with the agitated air, muffled through blocked sinuses.

Gold and Amber

Gold and Amber

We reach the pool which is dung brown and strung with wads of vegetation along its edge where the rocks have sieved yesterday’s flood water. I change and paddle in before leaping forward and under, surfacing between the twin stones that guard the falls like Modigliani heads. There’s a hearty but bearable nip and I feel a mind-shift as the bubbles surge through and tug at my hair. The effect on my psyche is akin to stained false teeth plonked into Steradent, or an ancient penny crusted with grunge that emerges gleaming from a tumbler of cola.

Sun splays through the wind-whipped water and refracts from the river bottom in shades of gold and amber. I have gills.

Waterfall

Medicinal Waterfall

Honey by the Pool

Honey

Long Timber Pool

Tavy Bluebells

Tavy Bluebells

It’s my first swim in ages owing to a back injury, and I feel flat and fed up. Today is a grey day, slightly chilly. Honey and I amble down to the Tavy where my spirits are elevated by the scent and sight of bluebells, surely the most stunning shade of blue, set off by vibrant spring greenness. The river is shaded by the little cleave, and looks flat and dingy by comparison to the beauty nearby. There’s a transitory whiff of sewage, but it’s not from the water and there’s no obvious source so I decide to risk it.

Honey Wades

Honey Wades

Long Timber Pool

Long Timber Pool

The water’s cold – certainly no more than ten degrees. I slip literally on the silted rocks beneath and swim around till I feel warmer, staring up at the sky through abundant new leaves. Honey fossicks around Long Timber Tor, rather a grand name for what is a small conglomeration of rocks and gnarly old trees that barely rises above water level.

I climb out and change, transfixed by the little gardens of plants emerging from slender cracks in the rock.  A warty, grey-green lichen covers the surface and lends a Hammer Horror monster air.

Walking back we’re followed and bleated at by a hilariously horned and close-coated ewe who I’m guessing was a bottle-fed, with an equally amusing lamb whose tiny pointed horns make him look like something from Narnia. Honey is utterly bemused. Anyone know the breed?

Chilly Waters

Chilly Waters

Warts and All

Warts and All

Narnian Lamb

Narnian Lamb

Crazy Ewe

Crazy Ewe

Bigbury Blethering

Honey Surfs

Honey Surfs

Bigbury on Sea, Bank Holiday Monday; blue skies and wisps of cirrus, a bank of fog over the horizon, and the usual cheeky gale. It’s low tide and light glints from the sand beneath the shallows and illuminates the sea so that it glows turquoise.  We set up on the sand and chat while a few of our friends swim round Burgh Island, some for the first time. I’m hugely envious, but unable to join in owing to my shoulder injury.

Light Splinters

Light Splinters

Blowing Bubbles

Blowing Bubbles

We go to meet the first swimmers, but they take off up the stream towards the Lifeguard hut like Triathletes. Then we discover the gang think they might have lost one of our newbies – but the Lifeguards know exactly where he is, and sure enough he appears in the distance having become over-excited and taken the long route round the easterly reef.

Finally it feels warm enough for a bob – although I’m acclimatised, being unable to swim properly means the cold grips fast. We run in and there is no pain at all for the first time in ages. The actual water temperature is around 10-11ºc, practically boiling point by recent standards. I mess around and play with Honey. Tiny waves break and splinter the light around us. It’s like being on a cloud.

Afterwards we continue to blether, wrapped in the smoke from barbecues and washed by the hubbub of people at play. IMGP4687

WWS's Bare Naked Foot Returns

WWS’s Bare Naked Foot Returns

The Dog Days Are Over

Limpets

Limpets

Honey and I arrived at Wembury and paid an extortionate £4.50 for the privilege of parking before wandering down to join Teri and Michele de la Mer who were staring intently at what appeared to be a nicely-coiled turd, but which turned out to be an adder; another had just vanished through a hole in the wall. The tardy arrival of spring had brought all of us out to bask in the sun.

Director

Director

We set up at the far end of the beach, about a hundred meters from the only other occupants, but were quickly approached by the  National Trust man who threw us off for daring to have a dog with us. Apparently there were some children due. I notice he didn’t throw the polluting traffic out of the car park, or close the lane in case any of them were run over, or spray Dettox around the rocks over which the sewage outfall discharges in wet weather.  Bearing in mind I pick up Honey’s mess, the sea temperature is still less than ten degrees, it’s term time and mid week, I can’t see any problem at all with Honey being there. We pay huge water bills because of the cost of cleaning our beaches, and yet we’re not allowed to use many of them with our dogs from May to October. I live in the country, I have dogs. I wouldn’t subject her to a hot day in high summer, but why can’t I go there at this time of year, or in the evenings? End of rant!

Criminal Canine

Anyway, we moved on up the coast path to a rocky gully where we sat and chatted and swam in pale turquoise water while Teri filmed with her Go-Pro in Slow-Mo. I only managed about ten minutes, but it was so beautiful with the ripples focusing sunlight over smooth, quartz-striped pebbles and rocks. Entranced by the water swirling and lapping around the limpets on the rock where we got in, I was shivering by the time I got out.  Apparently limpets wander across the rocks in very slow motion and try to lever each other off. They reminded me of little Daleks.

Michele Goes In

Michele Goes In

Beauty

Beauty

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