One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Archive for the tag “broadsands”

Book review – Beyond the Beach: the Secret Wild Swims of Torbay

Matt and Sophie DreamworldThis fascinating book exposes the secrets of the wild and beautiful coast of Torbay. It’s illustrated with a mouth-watering cornucopia of photographs, and if you can look at them and then resist dashing straight there and diving in, then you have the control of a medieval monk.

Beyond the Beach was researched and written by Matt Newbury and Sophie Pierce, and photographed underwater by Dan Bolt. I have to admit to a Wild Swimming relationship with the authors, and I had the pleasure of participating in some of the swims. But it’s honestly fantastic and I can’t recommend it highly enough. There is no substitute for the passion, eclectic knowledge and unique perspective Matt and Sophie have for this area and its unique geology and sea-life, and the book demonstrates precisely why so many people adore wild swimming. Excitingly, you also have plenty of scope for your own discoveries when you swim here.

There’s something here for everyone who has any affinity for water, or sea-life, or geology, or the history of tourism. There are some historical photographs too. The writing teems with informative and interesting snippets to tempt you into an aquatic exploration of this sensational piece of coastline, which is largely accessible to all. There are clear directions on distances, tides and how to find and explore rock arches, coves and sea caves (you simply must discover the Juliet Cave and the Rude Cave); and there are hints as to what wildlife to look for whether that’s rare eel grass, bright pink Dead Man’s Fingers, starfish or the famously inquisitive seals. There’s also an explanation for the bright red of the sandstone cliffs which were once heated by an equatorial sun.

You won’t regret buying this book, particularly if you think of Torbay simply as a large conurbation of bungalows, caravans and guest houses with some nice sea-frontages, lots of bars frequented by cooked lobster-skinned tourists, and a smattering of palm trees. So if you’d love to uncover some of Torbay’s delectable secrets then this book is essential whether you’re a wild swimmer, a tourist with a yen for adventure, someone who fancies giving relatively safe outdoor swimming a try, or just a person who loves beautiful and interesting books.

Beyond the Beach: the Secret Wild Swims of Torbay is available from


or contact Matt and Sophie via the Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beyond-the-Beach-the-secret-wild-swims-of-Torbay/489909844375598beyond 2

Goodrington to Broadsands

A Sophie-Swim today, from Goodrington to Broadsands near Paignton. It’s hot and sunny and the sea is flat and warm; light splays off red sand, still wet from the retreating tide. It smells like summer. We swim face-down through forests of weed, some of which stroke and pull at our limbs, while others scour like brillos. A school of tiny, blue fish zip past, dodging through a mini-canyon.

As we approach Arm Chair Rock, the sea turns turquoise and is tepid as bathwater. Water ebbs and flows around curiously pitted and holed limestone formations with a sound like vindaloo-induced indigestion. Sophie wallows and exclaims, transfixed by the shapes and the sounds.

I venture a couple of short runs of butterfly, but it’s difficult getting the timing back after my injury. Switching back to crawl I hit a thermocline where the water is suddenly icy, sending a shiver through my bare feet, hands and head.

Approaching Broadsands beach I feel then hear a strimmer sound cutting through me from the surrounding sea. I turn to see a couple of speed boats shooting across the bay, ejaculating sea water from their engines as they pass.  It’s a horrible return to the real world, as annoying as a mosquito in your bedroom.

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