There’s a stiff northerly wind blowing but I reason that the tree covered south facing shore of the River Dart estuary should provide a certain amount of shelter, and, as the shore is south facing it should be in the sunshine. That will be nice. It is also coming up to high tide which will also be a good thing as there won’t be a huge current. So much to think about just for a swim and I’ve got to work out where to park yet.
Wading in from the beach at Mill bay Cove I can see the water is full of small flecks of algae. The water is warm (ish) and flat calm as I swim out to the headland, but once into open water though the algae thins the surface becomes much more agitated.
Passing by the high thin entrances to the caves I am soon close under Kingswear Castle, a square, functional block of masonry with regularly placed windows some of which no doubt once housed canon in defence of the strategic harbour up river. And the water is getting rougher.
Approaching the turn into the river I have to push hard into the waves. The wind is sweeping down the river against the inflowing tide which creates sharp waves that slap against me. Taking a glance to my left I see a small sailing boat that is taking full advantage of the favourable wind to make good headway but at the same time it is being kicked about by the waves.
Then I cross a threshold. The water is still fairly rough but the temperature jumps upwards perhaps as much as 5 degrees and instantly clears of algae which had pooled to thick khaki sludge on the tide line without me really noticing until suddenly I notice the change where the water becomes dark blue.
That’s it. There’s the tree with the hanging broken branch that marks the limit of my previous downstream swim and so my coastal swim now stretches in an unbroken line from the Lower Kingswear Ferry to the mouth of the River Teign, every inch of 28 miles. However, just ahead of me is the tiny bay and the tunnel under the rocks which returns me to the water, I may as well as I am here.
Heading back the wind is behind me so though I am now working harder against the current at least I can push my goggles up and look around without salt water stinging in my eyes and sloshing up my nose, but progress is at a snail’s pace. I hit the temperature change, wow! I preferred the effect going the other way better.
It seems to take forever to reach the caves, both go back into the cliff between 15 and 20m depending on the state of the tide, both are tall slits in the rock and one has high up windows through which the increasingly cloudy sky can be seen. Then it’s around tghe headland and a surprisingly long slog in to the beach at last.