wildwomanswimming

One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Archive for the tag “Bigbury on Sea”

Big Bbbbbbbrrrrrrrrrry

Honey on the Neck

Honey on the Neck

Steph mentioned throwing herself into the sea at Bigbury after her Satruday ten mile run (yes, I know some Triathletes…) I decided to join her for the last bit, and I even trotted around twenty meters along the beach to warm up pre-swim. In we went; me, Steph, Richard and a couple of others I didn’t know. I reckon the sea temperature was around 8-9ºc, although the combination of howling unopposed gale, a swimsuit and shallow water on the neck did rather draw out the process of getting right in, like one of those zoom in while tracking out horror film camera effects. I haven’t done a winter dip with Steph since last year, and I’ve really missed her scream.

Alison meanwhile had appeared slightly late, and so I felt honour-bound to return for a second dip with her by which time my sensory nerve endings had well and truly frozen. It was lovely. Honey and Saffy the spaniel joined us. Afterwards we made tea and some rather spectacular smoke signals in the car park using Alison’s Kelly Kettle.

Alison, WWS and the Dogs Post-Dip

Alison, WWS and the Dogs Post-Dip

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

Wizardry at Burgh Island

I’ve never swum Burgh Island in an easterly gale before, but I see from the cliffs that it’s doable. It’s the day after the OSS Dart 10k so we have about thirty swimmers from around the country excited at the prospect of an iconic Devon wild swim. We walk down past the sea tractor and into warm, pale turquoise sea.

The water’s miraculously clear and I can see the cheese grater rock that scrapes a piece from my thigh. I’m exhilarated by the wild energy of the storm and the towering cliffs and wonder whether we’ll get into Death Valley.  The entrance looks spookily calm; I watch for a bit before deciding it’s safe to enter.

My companion and I swim in, and are quickly joined by several others who’d been hovering to see whether we would survive. We swim through the outer reef towards the shelter of the cliffs.

Suddenly I’m in a cauldron of pointed wavelets about a foot high, spiralling like upside down tornados. Spray flies from their tops. There’s an invisible wizard somewhere, casting spells over the sea.

Every few yards the surface of the water transmogrifies: here are sharp waves that echo the shapes of the jagged rocks above; there tiny ruffles shiver across rounded swells; a splatter of rain pocks wavelets; white horses rear with manes of spindrift. It’s still somehow clear below the surface, and we dive down through waving weeds.

We play our way through the rocks to  where the sand bar is gradually revealed by the receding tide. The gale hits us full-force, flinging abrasive water as it rips through. There’s no big swell, just a wallop of wavelets that makes swimming hard. I’m battered from side to side to front to back and keep my head down. As we leave the water I freeze instantly; not from wizardry, but from the chill of the east wind.

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