This is one of my favourite swims. The bay is sheltered by high cliffs clad with dark green pines which subtly scent the summer air with smells of resin and the carpet of pine needles. But even today chill as it is here under the sun warmed trees as I slip and slide down to the beach there is the unmistakable pine scent. The last 20 feet is a slither, more of the cliff has washed away since my last visit in December and carried with it down to the beach another quite sizeable tree.
On older maps this is named Newfoundland Harbour. It can only have been a mooring really, a harbour implies a place to load and unload goods and there is no way to get anything up that hill. However, it seems it got the name from a trade that ran from here with the fisheries off Newfoundland. A long way to bring fish.
I have brought my wetsuit. It is simply too much effort to get down here and then not have a fair swim and with the water at 9.9C without the wetsuit it would be a brief and not so pleasant experience. I do not subscribe to the idea that cold water swimming boosts the constitution rather the other way around, people with a good constitution are the only ones fool enough to go cold water swimming.
There is no gently wading in off this beach, it is most peculiar. The sand shelves at a gentle angle across the beach to the surf line. The fact that something strange is going on is shown by the way that the waves suddenly pop up from a flat calm sea and dump on the beach. One step out from the surf line and there is a 12 inch step down. A second step and the water is thigh deep, another step and it is waist deep. There is no fourth step; 8 to 10 feet out from the beach and the water is neck deep and this shelf moves in and out with the tide. I must bring a snorkel one day.
I look up at the cliffs, high up there the coast path loops by almost touching the sky. 2 people are looking down at me and probably wondering how I got down there and what on earth possessed me to go swimming. I am beginning to wonder myself, cold water has trickled down my back and it is also seeping up from my ankles. But I’m in here now and I swim out far enough that I can see one of the gun emplacements on Froward Point and looking the other way, well if I went just a little further, I’d be able to see Dartmouth Castle.
Instead I loop from one side of the bay to the other and then back in to the beach where I can almost reach out and touch the sand but still can’t touch the bottom with my feet.