St Mary’s is a gem of a beach.
It’s hard enough to get to that most people simply do not bother, even in summer with 2 huge holiday camps within a 20 minute walk people simply do not bother. On the other hand it’s not that hard to get to and I can be here in about 15 minutes from work. Park at the top and run down the steps, though as they are nearly vertical that is probably enough to put a lot of people off.
The beach changes. Sometimes it is a wide sweep of sand, though there are always more pebbles at the Brixham end. The pebbles come in pure frosted white quartz, or patterned with green or red. Others are grey-green and often show fossils. Some are rust red with iron minerals and others are dove grey and can be whole fossil corals. On some tides though the sand vanishes leaving sweeping fluted bedrock or jumbled rocks with hidden treasure if you know where to look; one lunchtime I picked up about 40 coins from old pennies through sixpences, a thrupence and on to recent decimal coins.
One of the principal qualities are the high cliffs that box it in on three sides so that on most days when the sea elsewhere may be getting kicked into a fierce chop by the wind, one end or other of St Mary’s will be nearly calm.
Today is a day of sand which moulds softly to the print of my feet and is slightly warm in the late winter sunshine. There is only a slight breeze at beach level and the water is flat calm.
I wade out until the water is to the top of my thighs and then launch into the blue sea. Cold water acclimatization I believe is 50% mental preparation and I tell myself the sea is not cold. It is a blatant lie.
I swim lazily out to Mussel Rock and swing around the seaward side giving it a wide berth as I know there are some sharply barnacled rocks in places and the water is not clear enough to see them clearly. This is only a quick dip though and I swim back in until I am amongst the wavelets and my feet brush the sand with each kick.
A quick dash up the beach, dress and rinse the sand from my toes in the little stream and I can be back at work before anyone notices I’ve been out for lunch.