The drowned prehistoric forest off the west coast of Wales at Borth is possibly the best known example of its kind in the UK. There are other examples dating back to two glacial periods 11 000 to 14 000 years ago when sea levels were lower with the water locked into massive ice sheets. One such is in Torbay, though I have never seen it.
It takes a ‘just so’ combination of very low spring tides and a scouring current to remove the sand for the tree stumps to be exposed. The tide today is not low enough but the sand at Broadsands is piled high against the sea wall especially at the left hand end of the beach such that the usual pebble bank and jumbled rocks are sunk in the sand. However as I walk down the beach and wade out into the shallow water picking my way over the unseen pebbles none of this has yet occurred to me.
I step onto what I at first assume is a weed covered rock, then there are more. Slowly it dawns on me that these are very soft rocks even were they covered in weed and more to the point the shapes are twisted and not rounded. I step up onto another soft twisted mass and then down onto sand. I am clambering over the roots and stumps of the fossil trees. It is only a shame that though the water is only knee deep, thigh deep, knee deep, bum deep, it is so churned up that nothing is visible.
Then I am off and swimming for the point with my back to the beach. As I turn across the bay I can see two figures by my bag doing the ‘swimsuit dance of modesty’ and I figure I have company after all. As they begin to walk down the beach I begin to swim in, meeting them where the water is neck deep. We bob steady out into deeper water talking about weather, Portuguese man of’ War, the last time we swam together which must be 3 years and swimming in foreign lands where the water was a sight warmer than it is here today.
We swim on taking a zig-zag course that eventually leads back to the beach where I swim on rather than wade through the shallows until I finally run aground in not quite knee deep water.
Unfortunately now that looks like the end of the road for at least a few days. More heavy rain is forecast and the river this morning looked unswimable. With the heavy rain comes also a weekend of gale force winds so any attempt at a long sea swim is also doomed. I guess autumn has finally caught up.