wildwomanswimming

One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Archive for the tag “Dart 10k”

Dart Meander: Totnes to Sharpham

Wading in at Long Marsh

Wading in at Long Marsh

Honey and I stay at Bantham overnight, after spending a few lovely post-Burgh hours in the pub with Helen, Baa and Hugo. We still manage to be late for our Dart swim (the first part of the Dart 10k route), thanks to the inhabitants of the Bantham Ham warren who lead Honey crazily astray.  After Kari becomes uncharacteristically officer-like we manage to get the correct number of vehicles (although without some of the kit) to the end of the swim at Sharpham before heading back to the start at Long Marsh in Totnes. We’re only around fifteen minutes late starting for this tide-dependent swim, which is shockingly efficient by our usual standards.

This is the first time I’ve worn my wetsuit since December, and I’m mighty glad of it when I try dunking my face into the chill flood waters. It’s early morning and low, autumn sun and cold river and alchemy conjures a rare beauty of the kind that inspired the Romantic poets. Sun glints in soft-focus from lissome water while reeds and trees gather mistily on the banks. Rowers glide past almost silent, while V-formations of geese honk overhead.

The river is opaquely brown yet tastes fresh and clean. As we approach a marsh inlet I hear a tinkling of water draining; there are whorls where wrecked bladderwrack spins and I feel the whoosh of the tide pulling seawards. There’s a slight whiff of earth and salt water. Even as we reach the Sharpham vineyards the river is barely brackish and knee-depth. Invisible creatures move upstream. their progress marked by trails of bubbles.  We wade, sucked by estuarine mud, to the bank.

Beauteousness

Beauteousness

DCIM100GOPRO

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London Bridge with Foreigners

Bouncy Behind the Arch

Bouncy Behind the Arch

Beneath the Surface...

Beneath the Surface…

Under the Arch

Under the Arch

It’s the day after the Dart 10k and some of our ‘foreign’ visitors have come to join us on a swim to London Bridge arch in Torquay. It’s a bit friskier than forecast as stormy weather approaches, but the sea is still warm and the waves are not too big. Our first shock comes from the appearance of a conger eel on the beach – dead, luckily, as these big boys can have your leg off by all accounts; well, the accounts of fishermen anyway.

Extreme Bobbing Poppet-Style

Extreme Bobbing Poppet-Style

I hang back with Plum, Paul and Poppet, who at seven is an amazingly confident and strong swimmer, dealing happily with regular submersions during her extreme bobbing session. Plum and Poppet return to shore after a few hundred meters, and we catch up with the others near the arch. There are a couple of boys swimming with another visitor and they also do a fine job of taking on the stormy seas. I persuade a swimmer from London to keep going – he’s more than capable but unused to these conditions. It’s a good demonstration of the value of experience.

You can still see the cave entrance, but it’s certainly too high and bouncy to risk going through. The water’s so wonderful today, pointy witch’s hat waves, splats, turquoise and clear. The barnacled limestone sets off the colour beautifully.

Returning to Land

Returning to Land

The back entrance to the cave is largely sheltered since the swell is approaching more or less at ninety degrees to the arch. I venture in, but the gyre is filled with flotsam and jetsam which includes the usual plastic bottles and some unidentifiable stuff so I quickly venture out again, but not before marvelling in the deep petrol blue glow of the sea inside.

I’ve got my new GoPro camera working; it’s a different entity from a conventional camera as there’s no screen, so rather than framing shots these pictures are all from my point of view. The camera is attached to my forehead with a head harness, and causes some issues with my goggles, but it’s early days and there’s plenty of scope for experimentation.

Afterwards we eat cookies and Blueberry, Basil and Martini Cake.

The Arch

The Arch

Under the Arch Some More

Under the Arch Some More

Swimming Back

Swimming Back

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