It is not that I have run out of places to add to my ‘Devon’ Wild Swim Map it is simply that things keep taking me in the direction of Cornwall and there are, as there are in Devon, some stunning swimming spots ‘across the border’.
When I arrived in Falmouth the previous evening the sea was roaring into the beach and the torrential rain had produced lakes rather than puddles along the seafront road. However, twelve hours is a long time in swimming and in the pre-dawn light next morning there was only a slight breeze and the sea had become almost millpond calm as the stars faded from the clear sky. Looking out from Maenporth Beach though it was quite clear that the focus of the brightness was slightly around the headland and I was not going to get a sunrise. Not from the beach anyway.
The soft sand at the high water mark gave way to sharp pebbles on the gently sloping beach and even before my feet were in the shallows they were feeling numb. I had planned for a longer swim and was in my wetsuit but even so the water finding its way inside was like icy needles and even though I know it is true I had to convince myself afresh that once the water on the inside warmed up thighs would be at least acceptable.
As I got closer to the headland the light along the horizon brightened behind the band of cloud throwing up lighthouse beams that swept the sky as the clouds drifted across the distant sky. Then for just a brief moment the isolated clouds above me turned from leaden grey to burning gold tinged with pink and then pure white and the rising sun swept light down from above half blinding me with its brilliance. In all the excitement I had quite failed to notice the water inside the wetsuit was now more temperate and almost but not quite pleasant though my fingers and toes were refusing to cooperate and lacking in any sense of feeling respectively.
Against the bright sky the perching birds looked like teeth along the ridge of nearby rock they were however troubled by my noisy progress as I kicked up gouts of water to be backlit against the sun and en masse took to flight, wheeling my way at first and squawking irritably before making their own solitary paths across the bay.
My splashy progress eventually took me back into the breaking waves where I unexpectedly found I was in no more than a foot of water as I grated ashore on the sand and pebbles. Only leaving me with a numb foot stumble back up the beach to my towel.