wildwomanswimming

One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Archive for the tag “Salter’s Pool”

Hot Naked Men and Cool Dartmoor Water

WWS Pummelled by the Sharrah Cascade

WWS Pummelled by the Sharrah Cascade

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.

Honey Above the Cascade

Honey Above the Cascade

Cascade Close Up

Cascade Close Up

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.

Laura in Horseshoe

Laura in Horseshoe

Under Sharrah

Under Sharrah

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Summery Salter’s

Floating

Floating

Four of us meet on the Double Dart for a morning swim in bright sunshine. Most of the pools in this steep-sided wooded valley are in shadow at this time of day, although the sun is creeping over the far bank and beginning to illuminate the water. It’s beautifully cool and we finish our swim with a wild jacuzzi in Horseshoe Falls. The water is low, but there’s plenty of bubble action to spritz our spirits to bursting point and I have a proper massage under the flume. We climb out onto the flat rock and warm our chilled bodies in a patch of sunlight before swimming back across to our rock, which is now crawling with happy teenagers out to enjoy this magical place on a golden day.

Wild Jacuzzi and Massage Parlour

Wild Jacuzzi and Massage Parlour

Salter’s Spirits

The air’s not that cold, but the water nips then burns like horseflies. It’s dead calm, and autumn colours mist the trees. Lazy bright leaves wend downstream in the copper-black water. As I swim my breath condenses and creeps along the surface like a spectral breeze. I float across the current and my body swirls around and down towards the distant cascade; its music surges like rainfall as I pass. Honey fossicks under the bank. Her cream fur silhouettes hanging tree roots like giant ribs so that she appears to have been swallowed by a fossilised whale.

Bun Fight on the Dart

We met in the usual place and wandered up to Salter’s Pool for a chilling-off after another hot and sunny day. The water was cool and silky, Horseshoe gave us a pummelling akin to trotting for ten miles bareback on a Dartmoor pony, and we were all bursting with bonhomie. Two latecomers arrived and leapt in with Queenie and Jane, while the rest of us dried off.

Then Jackie got the cake out.

The water in Salters, previously black and smooth as guinness, churned as though a carcass had been flung to a school of ravenous pirhanas. Jackie stood on the bank and extended her cake-loaded hand. Jane and Queenie emerged from the scrum together, but a passing salmon staged a dazzling leap over their heads and grabbed the cake. Queenie executed a glorious dive, but lost control on the slithery rocks and smacked into Jane before they both plummeted back to the river, crushing the salmon beneath them. Jane grabbed the cake from the jaws of the stunned fish. Jackie, fearing for her fingers, lobbed a spare piece to Queenie.

Meanwhile, the MacFamily came close to being swept away by the tsunami as they furtively gobbled brownies and flapjacks under cover of the trees on the big slab rock.

As the sun set we scoffed the last of the cake and the churning waters subsided. The lifeless salmon floated downstream on her final journey, turning stiffly in the current, glinting silver through the dark water. Jane threw a mid-stream Falling Tree Pose in an attempt to pretend she had been calmly practising yoga all along, and had played no part in the tragic death of the salmon. A final shock-wave hit her and she was tossed gracefully downstream like a branch in a winter storm. Fishy Karma.

 

Delicious Dart

I’m baking and sticky with sweat after the hottest day this year, and the sound and sight of the Double Dart as the air starts to cool makes me want to run flat out and dive straight in. We walk upstream and change among the trees. The river rocks are slippery, so our entrance is less nifty than we had hoped. As I fall forwards the deliciously cool water sluices the heat and salt from my skin and I’m instantly invigorated.

We swim serenely around the pool, occasionally passed by a speeding dog; we have Honey and Perrin the labrador with us this evening. It’s a joy to watch a dog bred for swimming cavorting through the river, water rilling from his coat.

We swim in each pool before plopping in to the Horseshoe jacuzzi. I feel the fizzling softness on my skin. Janey says the bubbles make happy water, and I know what she means. I hold a handful of bubbles briefly before they evanesce like Tinkerbell.

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