The Song of the Sea

The rain eased yesterday afternoon but returned with a vengeance in the evening which rather derailed our plan for a second swim of the day from Treen Beach and drove us instead into the Logan Inn for warming steak and ale pies.  The morning dawns dull and mizzly.  However my plan for the day still includes Nanjizal Beach and Zawn Pyg; ‘The Song of the Sea’, a tall, thin natural sea arch.


Wild Swimming

The walk along the South-West Coast Path from Porthgwarra gives us fleeting views through the mist of the sea crashing in full fury on the granite rocks below, the water’s surface is wound with trails of foam but we count 4 seals riding the swells.  Whilst the sea looks unpromising the headlands are a stunning carpet of pink heathers and yellow furze stunted into low, rolling pillows by the incessant wind.  The house that stands sentry above the beach looms into view, briefly, before fading up into the clouds as we descend the steps.

I had hoped for a golden expanse of sand, that’s how it looks in the postcards but the sea has stripped the beach back to thrown and tumbled rocks and pebbles slicked with a sheen of water.  The scramble to the entrance to the zawn is slow and slowly it opens in front of us.

A shovel of sand ribbed by the waves has been left as a carpet in the first pool and it is home to a small shoal of sand eels that dart amongst the brown kelp fronds.  We swim down the first pool, drawn down by the winking eye in the cliff ahead.  Another clamber over fallen boulders and into the second, deeper pool.

The cliff folds into a tunnel overhead.  Gusts of wind sweep through the tunnel carrying the sound of crashing surf and the larger waves slop through the boulders at the seaward end raising a slight swell in the pool.  Small fronds of brown seaweed glow with blue iridescence and the walls are mottled with orange and green carpets of sponge and thickly dotted  with tiny cushion stars, each of which has the tips of its arms curled up revealing a point of orange against the dark background.

We retrace our swim emerging to an overcast sky that nevertheless seems blinding after the darkness.

After drying and changing a clamber back across the rocks is as good a way to warm up as any.  I am just stepping between rocks when a fleck of verdigris catches my eye.  Picking the piece from between 2 tightly packed pebbles most of the green flakes away revealing bright pink copper and the vague outline of King Edward VIII, a not quite 100 year old penny.  It has not been quite the picture postcard swim envisaged  it’s true, but it is certainly one of a kind and found pennies always bring good luck, so it is with a great sense of optimism that I begin the slog back up the steps towards the coffee that is waiting for me 2 miles away at the van.


My 100 Swims South-West Google map.


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