Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Scaring the fishermen (but not the fishes)

My brother Matt was down, so we decided to go fishing at Hope's Nose - an exposed finger of land sticking out to sea in Torquay.  I was excited, not just because I love fishing with him, because he's so expert, but also because I've always longed to swim there but have never done so.  We'd done a recce the day before, when the sea had been crystal clear on the sheltered side of the point, but overnight there had been rain and gales and so the water had clouded.  No matter,  it was gloriously sunny and we set to and were soon catching whiting and pollack, as well as a dogfish.  There were about 20 chaps fishing - no women at all - and Matthew wasn't too keen on the idea of me going swimming as he viewed it as potentially the latest incident in a lifetime of me embarrassing him. However I was determined to go in and set off to a discreet spot away from the fishermen, taking my 13 year old son along for protection.  It's a particularly intriguing spot for swimming as there is a spectacular rocky pavement with pink splodges and white streaks, with many inlets and little natural swimming pools which fill up at high tide.  I found some convenient natural steps to walk down into the sea, from where I launched off and swam around some of the barnacle-pocked intricacies of the shoreline. Matthew needn't have worried; none of the fishermen took a blind bit of notice, being far more interested in what they were doing than in some strange woman taking a dip.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

A magical mystery dip

I was on a mission to find a secret pool in the middle of Dartmoor that I'd read about.  I set off, OS map in hand, and headed out in what I thought was the right direction.   However the path soon petered out and I started to feel rather lonely, without a human soul for miles and only sheep for company.  I kept looking at the map and just couldn't work out where the track was that I was supposed to be following. (Later I learnt that I'd  made a fatal error right at the start).
  I could see Bala, Red and Middle Brooks in the distance and so decided to go and explore them instead.  After only a minor mishap when I got stuck in a quagmire - quite alarming when you're on your own actually -  I found an enchanting pool at Red Brook with crystal clear water and waterfalls; a kind of bower with moss and ferns where piskies might live.  I was rather hot by this stage, having clambered over tussocks, sunk into muddy patches and forged various streams, and so stripped off and plunged in, no doubt terrifying any piskies who happened to be around.   Afterwards I feasted on mince pies as the stream chattered away.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Festive dipping

We have been at home in Devon this Christmas so it's been wonderful to  swim on both Christmas and Boxing Days.  On Christmas Day Yaara, Rachel, Steph, Judy, Angie and I did a sort of "Santa Dash" to the Dart at Spitchwick; we have it down to a fine art now.  It goes something like this:  put costume on, with robie or dressing gown on top.  Put on coat and hat for warmth, and wear neoprene boots on feet.  Get in car.  Arrive at river, strip off outer layers, get in river, swim. Get out, fling robie/dressing gown on, put on coat and hat and run back to the car.  The perfect way to start Christmas and still be back in time to get the turkey in.  The only slight issue was the rain and hail which decided to fall with a vengeance as we started swimming - but, as Yaara observed,  the hail stones were actually very beautiful on the water as it was so cold they didn't melt straight away.   Then today, Boxing Day, it was totally different. Blue skies and bright sun, and we went down to Mothecombe to walk to Bugle Hole.   I love swimming here - it's a keyhole-shaped inlet which fills up at high tide.  Today it was like being in a spin-cycle and totally exhilarating. Nancy kept me company, bouncing around in the water, and I got to try out my new pink and white flowery swimming cap, a present from my lovely sister in law Kate.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Santa swims at Sugary

 We descended on Sugary Cove in Dartmouth where the tide was high, in anticipation of a swim through what is sometimes grandly referred to as 'the Ravine' - a channel bordered by high rocks on either side, which leads through to Castle Cove. We had Santa with us, aka my friend Allan, who led the expedition through some initially alarming swell and then headed bravely towards the channel.  I suppose, being used to going down chimneys and all, he had no fear of this particular tunnel, and was soon half way through the ravine.  We followed Santa, like a troop of little elves, and it felt spectacular being surrounded by the high, dark rocks, and getting through to the other side.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Exploration around the Armchair

There were white horses out in the middle of Tor Bay, but down in the little cove sheltered by Armchair Rock, the sea was pretty calm, apart from a gentle swell as we waded in.   This place is special, a secluded lagoon with intricate rock formations like coral, with a maze of rocky channels to explore. We swam through one, admiring the unnaturally flat wall of rock which bordered us on one side, while trying to avoid injuries as we scrambled over the shallower bits.  We came back through into the main lagoon where Karen and Jo jumped off the Armchair; this is a great spot for diving at high water.

Thanks to Jo for the top picture.