wildwomanswimming

One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

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

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5 thoughts on “Bigbury Blethering

  1. Lucy jo on said:

    Good to read of yr sea swimming… we in Wiltshire rather landlocked but do our best at Farleigh Hungerford & the Somerset avon! Within striking distance of Dorset though & have got ourselves round Brownsea. Hoping to make a good mission of Burgh island early this August, five of us including one strong teenager, any top tips? Are thinking mon 5th (new moon) high tide anti clockwise stick together. Sound good? Thanx & best wishes

    • Brownsea’s a long way!
      Burgh is a lovely swim, you can go at high or low but I prefer the high because you can cut through Death Valley which is the channel on the Western side of the Island. Done a map for you so you can find it – if you go anti clockwise it’s easier to round the first rocks to your left then cut in among them as you head around the corner – you’ll see the channel then – great big high rocks either side once you’re in, and there’s all kinds of wonderful sea life under the water – make sure you’ve got goggles! Also cormorants and shags sitting on the rocks.
      https://maps.google.co.uk/maps/ms?msid=213673197651193702071.0004df33874b95596ceff&msa=0&ll=50.279097,-3.898258&spn=0.007446,0.021136

      The swell tends to come at the Island from the SW, and it can get very big indeed. Watch it because it bounces back of the reefs and it can get pretty hairy. Generally if you head out against the swell, once you cut into the channel it’s sheltered, then as you come out the back there’s a nice push of swell behind you. Watch the far reef – that’s the bit sticking out (marked by a pole) to the East just as you come to the Hotel. You can cut through, but you’re likely to get grated on some of the rocks there.

      If the wind’s easterly, probably best to go clockwise. Have a look and see on the day, but it is hard to judge till you’re in, as the swell always looks nice and small till you’re out in it!

      There are RNLI Lifeguards on duty at Bigbury, on the beach to the left as you face Burgh Island. Good idea to tell them you’re going and they’ll keep an eye. If you want company let me know, if I’m off I’d be happy to show you round.

  2. Forgot to say the map on Google Earth is taken at low tide, so parts of Death Valley have no water in them which makes it look narrower than it is. It’s easier to see at high tide.

    • Lucy jo on said:

      Hey thanks loads for your input! Have booked camping at Mount folly farm 4th & 5th August so we can choose to swim the Monday or Tuesday weather depending. Look forward to scrutinising maps at length. Will keep you posted. Bests & merry midsummer, Lucy ¤

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