As I walked through the middle of town the rain got steadily more persistent. Well, that at least put paid to mowing the grass, but with swimming you will get wet anyway and at least it was warm rain.
Though still overcast, by the time I reached New Bridge the rain had stopped but the few cars hissed by with the peculiar sound of rubber peeling from a wet road. The 2 miles to Sharrah Pool flew by under my feet taking just a fraction over 20 minutes and though I did once make it in a few seconds under 15 minutes a lot of water has flowed down this river in 5 years.
I was already wearing swimming kit so all I had to do was kick off my shoes and peeled off my running top and I’m river ready. And with that the last of the clouds drifted over the hilltop leaving the pool bathed in sunshine.
From the top of the big diving rock I can clearly see the stones and sand of the river bed picked out in fine detail by the sunshine whilst at the same time being given a peaty orange colour rinse. A moment later and my outstretched fingertips tear apart the surface and through river misted vision I swim upstream as far as I can though it’s not far against the current.
A single pond skater dances across the water’s surface as I stagger through the shallows. The water is noticeably warmer than last weekend and I’m going to dive in again and make the most of it. Up the pool, down the swoosh, on down to the very foot of the pool and around again, duck diving into the churning storm of bubbles at the swoosh or the languid eddy in the lee of the diving rock. I finally pull myself out of the water after 2 more dives and nearly 25 minutes swimming without feeling the slightest chill.
Two more swimmers have arrived and as I run back down the valley I pass more and more people; Sharrah is about to get busy.
I had not planned to go back on Sunday but it was a morning of light air and sunshine and there’s been a real lack of that so it was just too irresistible.
The air in the car park felt cooler and there was a little bite in it as I jogged up the path, enough to make it catch slightly at the back of my throat.
At Sharrah I caught the last 5 minutes of the sunshine before a streamer of cloud blocked it. The water seemed clearer, enough so that it was possible to dive from the little rock where the pool is deep enough but the direction of the dive is a little more critical with rocks all around.
Swimming in circles wishing for sunshine turned out to be a futile exercise, the cloud was streaming by but in a long bank that kept the sun above me obscured whilst Bench Tor was bathed in sunshine beneath a forget-me-not blue sky.
After 15 minutes I gave it up, but not quite able to drag myself away I stood for a moment on the big diving rock and in the clear water there was the unmistakable silver flash of a salmon heading upstream, as sure a sign of impending summer as anyone could wish for.