It costs just £0.60 to park for the first hour at Sharrow Car Park, but that’s not going to get you far. It’s then £2.30 for up to 2 hours. How much! And nowhere on the notice board does it tell you that the beach is closed. The display board does however let you know that there are dangerous rip currents, the possibility of cliff falls, the risk of being cut off by the tide. In short, do not swim from this beach or you will die!!! It is perhaps not surprising then that having told you not to risk setting foot on the beach they assumed there was no need to tell anyone the beach path was closed.
Closed is however a relative term and to be fair the scaffold pole and wire mesh screen that blocked the top of the steps may be a deterrent to some. I can’t however really say I would give it marks of more than 1 out of 10 as it took me under 5 seconds to negotiate it (then again I have been scaling scaffold and considerably more challenging obstacles since I was 4 years old, and I have the scars to prove it).
Earlier in the day under a sun filled blue sky the sea looked amazing from the cliff top; calm, but with large rolling breakers on the gently shelving sand. The weather has closed in now and from the surf line the sea looks bleak, clear and grey, whilst the sun jabs down shafts of light through a mosaic of dark clouds.
It was not only from the notice board that I heard there can be rip currents off here, someone also told me in conversation this morning and it is on the on-line beaches guide. But the generalization is for Whitsand Bay of which this is just a tiny fraction of several miles of diverse coast and rip currents come and go with the tide and sea state. Here, where the beach is divided into small bays by rocky headlands and the foreshore is speckled with rock outcrops, a severe rip current seems unlikely in this churning sea.
What does seem to be a real threat however is the opportunity to get thrown onto one of those rocks by the waves as all I can make out through the churning water are vague dark shapes that loom and vanish as waves wash them. And I really don’t need to kick one of them. My little toe is still incredibly sore after I smashed it on a rock at Sharrah Pool a month ago and the laceration I made on the barnacles last weekend is similarly painful.
Ironically what I’d really like is bigger waves, though only if there was more exposed beach, as I love that feeling as a wave rushes at me, gaining height, thinning, curling, will it break over me or just sweep me high into its crest and if it going to break do I face it full on or dive through its face to come face to face with the next wave.
I’ve swum into the next bay, out around the rocks and back to my start point. I’ve been no more than 20 minutes at a guess, but in that time the tide has risen sufficiently that the little bay is now cut off from the main beach and the steps, only by 6 inches of water but it’s enough that I will be wanting to carry my clothes back and get changed whilst sat up on the rocks. I’d have done it that way anyway so as I could wash the sand from between my toes.
This has been a new swimming place for me and I would like to swim it again on a warm summer day but realistically it’s not going to happen, there are too many other places to visit that are much easier to get to.