The camper van we have hired for the week is parked broadside on to the wind and rocks erratically in the gusts which carry palpably solid looking clumps of mist amongst the fine drizzle. Twelve hours is a long time in English weather, what happened to yesterday evening’s sweltering sunshine?
The beach is all but deserted, with just a few trails of footprints leading to forlorn wandering people singly or gathered in clusters. It is a scene somewhat reminiscent of one from the film’I Robot’ One man stands hopefully in surf up to his knees, yet the mist seems to actually bleed the colour from the landscape and the prospect of sunshine is a pipedream. Maybe if we take a short walk along the coast path?
An hour later and nothing has changed except a few more people willing to brave the damp have come to huddle in whatever shelter from the wind they can find. Swim? Silly question. Though for the moment let’s pretend not to have seen the signs warning of rip currents and telling us not to swim at low tide. It is low tide. We will however swim from the sheltered beach where I can see the water and can be confident that there are no unforeseen hazards so long as we keep inside of the headland.
The water is significantly cooler than it was yesterday on the south coast just 4 miles away and not as clear. I have barely swum 5m just clear of the towering black rock pinnacle when I spot the head of a seal bobbing not 20m away. I tread water hoping Lucy will catch up and see it but after a few moments the stand off ends as it slides beneath the surface. I have been bitten a number of times by seals whilst swimming, blood and everything, but I am fairly confident in this clear water that he will stay well clear. A few minutes later and his head bobs up again but now well out across the bay 100m away.
Asides from the two of us no-one seems remotely tempted, maybe they have taken the signs at face value, maybe they don’t fancy the cold. They are not wrong, my finger tips have got that numb feeling which is a sure sign it is time to get out.
The tide has turned and is now racing in, the largest waves just reach out to the base of the rock our kit is on. As we change the sky brightens and the mist lifts. Oh no we’ve missed the sunshine, but no it is only a prelude to drizzle, which by the time we reach the van has turned into full on rain. Looks like our timing was spot on after all.
My 100 Swims South-West Google map.