Some people are happy to swim at the same place as a matter of course, be it convenience, ease of access, facilities, etc. and there is nothing wrong with that. I often find myself doing the same thing by default and that in itself can be interesting. For example, last year Mansands was like a magnet for me. It’s a big space and if I were to only visit infrequently I would probably swim from the same spot each time, but if I revisit time and again then there is a little more scope for exploration. On the other hand, too often I have gone off the beaten track and spent my allotted time looking for that new place to swim and not actually finding it.
Do you go with what you know or venture into the unknown? There is of course a place for both things.
Petit Tor Beach was a place I had never swum at until 18 months ago. I’d swum down to coast to it from Watcombe or around from The Gentlemen’s Bathing Place (this blog will get to both in due course) but never actually swum from it. It turned out I was missing out.
From the end of Petit Tor Road there is a wide swathe of grass down as far as the bench (except the grass has become mud). A well worn path then winds down through the trees seeming never to quite reach the beach, every time you think you’re there the path wanders off again, but it is worth it, the trees suddenly part, there is a tiny patch of turf and then the beach.
Whoa the sea is rougher than expected, but then again I hadn’t expected to be here at all. Over the last week at work I have become ‘man who puts up suspended ceilings’ and not too shabby either. Anyway, I need more tiles, the supplier is over this way, it’s my lunchtime and the sun is shining. I hadn’t properly factored in the easterly wind though.
The beach has two bays: the right is steeper and more enclosed, the left is a gently shelving mix of bright white limestone pebbles with sand in the cracks and it catches more of the sunshine.
Somehow I’m out beyond the breakers. Away down there is the needle at Long Quarry and away up there Teignmouth. Now I can see them, now all I can see is sky. This is spectacularly bumpy.
Over towards the Oddicombe side the waves are shooting up over the rocks but the headland is taking the kick out of the swell and that is my way back. Two huge waves surge by, but then looking over my shoulder I can see there is a flattish moment and I dash for the shore. I hopscotch between rounded boulders leaving a footprint on each until I am back to my clothes, just as the sun drifts in behind the trees.
Back to the ceilings then.