wildwomanswimming

One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Archive for the month “November, 2013”

Tinside Chill

Tinside

Tinside

I hadn’t been in the sea for a while, so when someone suggested a swim at Tinside this lunchtime I was there in a flash. The sea has chilled rapidly and is now around 10ºc, enough to give us full-on ice cream head. There was barely a ripple in the water, and it had that metallic sheen that forms with a bit of cloud cover and a low winter sun on the horizon.

Lovely...photo Rosie Barnfield

Lovely…photo Rosie Barnfield

We chatted as we swam, and discussed the psychology of the missing yellow buoys which used to form a kind of boundary; now there’s no reason to stop swimming, nor to swim between points. Strangely liberating.

We changed and jigged around with after drop. Then we sat at the Terrace Cafe and looked out towards the breakwater with hot drinks and hot water bottles. Below us a cormorant fished close to the beach, a shadowy streak under the gin-clear sea who popped up and gobbled her catch just a couple of feet from the shore. Civilisation has its benefits…and its down side. Poor Rosie was caught like the hapless fish by two Great White traffic wardens and got a parking ticket.

Warming Up on the Tinside Terrace

Warming Up on the Tinside Terrace

Flaming Sharrah

She hasn't Even Been In Yet

She hasn’t Even Been In Yet

Another visit to the deep south west by Fiona and the Urban Fox Terrier, and also by Helen’s Mum Anna. We had promised a trip to Sharrah, and so that’s where we went. In another of those nature-based sense conflicts Holne woods is aflame and bespattered in a pointillist celebration of hot colours. Aish Tor rises like an over-proved loaf behind Wellsfoot, rusted with autumn bracken. The water, meanwhile, is chilling rapidly. Today it looks almost black.

Sharrah is icy and voluminous. We gasp and swim staccato to the rapids, which we descend in clouds of foam. Our newbie cold water swimmers do well to get in at all. 8ºc, but it somehow feels colder. Perhaps that’s the effect of fiery autumn woods raising our expectations. Anticipatory thermogenesis, one of JJ’s pet theories, certainly came into play today.

Into the Foam

Into the Foam

Whooosh!

Whooosh!

Whooshing

Whooshing

Pointillist Autumn

Pointillist Autumn

Shilley Willy

Flying Entry

Flying Entry

Honey and I accompany Matt and Aaron on an exploratory trip to Shilley Pool. We wade and scramble pool-wards over sodden ground dotted with clitter and clumps of rusted bracken. Matt drops knee deep into a bog.  Blackaton Brook is a tiny tributary of the upper Teign and looks like nothing with the colours of the open moorland  leeched by mizzle and the rumbling water secreted beneath dark undergrowth.

Suddenly all is revealed; a series of smooth rocks curve gently down into the near-circular pool which is dammed by boulders at the lower end. It starts to rain heavily as we arrive, and we slide in from the top to slow boiling water. It’s like swimming in a mixture of Guinness, Jail Ale and ice in a pub drip tray at the end of a busy night. The infinity pool effect looking downstream is gorgeous. We reckon the river temperature to be around 6-7ºc, chillier still than the Teign where we swam earlier. It’s strange how your brain interprets this level of cold: the burn of my body could be from heat, while my hands feel painfully freezing.

Infinity Drip Tray

Infinity Drip Tray

 

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