It’s a scorching morning and the river pool in the shadow of Hexworthy Bridge is predictably packed, but I manage to wedge the car in the little space further up the road, I’m heading upstream to different pools.
Ducking into the leafy green interior of the river bank trees I kick my shoes off and wade the river, edging slowly forward searching the dark water with my toes for rocks that are neither too small, nor too slippery, nor likely to wobble and give me an earlier than planned for dip. The far bank is actually a little treasure, a small untended meadow, the grass awash with flowers in yellow and purple whilst foxgloves nod from above furze dusted with more yellow flowers. In this sheltered spot there is not a breath of breeze and the air shimmers on the edge of spontaneous combustion.
The upper pool is long and wide though no more than waist deep across most of it and my feet ooze into thick black peaty mud at the edge. It’s just as well they’ll get a wash off, though getting out? Worry about that when the time comes, but for now simply savour the cooling river.
I wedge my none too clean feet back in my none too dry shoes as though it is only a few yards to the pool further downstream the ground is a mess of gorse spines and they are especially sharp when they have dried.
I am approaching the pool on the inside of the bend where a broad beach of pale granite pebbles and sand slopes gently into the still water. From the upstream edge of the beach I push out into the faster water and get spun around the outside curve just glancing off one or two of the rounded underwater boulders. After a couple of goes around the pool it’s time to grab my shoes again, take a slow walk back through the meadow, cross the river and head off homeward.
Brief it may have been but it was certainly a life saver and I feel chilled in just about all senses of the word.