Hot Naked Men and Cool Dartmoor Water
Baking hot, oppressively hot, heavy air that’s hard to inhale. Horse flies, midges, salty, sticky skin. Laura and I slide into cool, rippling water and sink under gorgeous jacuzzi bubbles. After a while in Salter’s and Horseshoe we steam up the track through the woods where even the boggiest patches are solidifying like overcooked chocolate Brownies. It’s cooler as we climb in the shelter of the ancient woodland, and the usual breeze funnels up the Sharrah glade.
You can’t see the cascade current below the big rock, and the water in most of the pool is apparently flowing up hill in a series of slow eddies speckled with foam. We are able to swim straight up and into the falls, wedging in and feeling the full force without being snapped in two. It’s usually impossible to get this close. Muscles loosen; atomised water mists our view.
When we get chilled, we prostrate ourselves on the flat rock on the far side and allow the heat to radiate through our bodies, moving periodically to a warmer patch. Dragonflies and Damselflies swoop among the whizzing midges above the surface, a series of deaths marked by plops. Small striped fish float silver and grey above bronze shadows in yellow ochre water.
We slither back down the silty slab and glide back upstream; a naked man swims past and we converse casually about the best pools and how to get to them. He gets out and is replaced by another, younger one who ignores us. Leaves rustle louder than the river.