The year has nearly come to a close. The festive season has bought the traditional excesses. The need to sneak off for a quiet swim, run or bike ride, usually before the rest of the house is stirring sufficiently to stop me, has been strong. I have swum in Burrator in a gale, before dawn, and sheltered from the wind and giant winter swell behind the protective buttress of the cliffs at Porth Nadler. I have run on the moors through wind, gales, darkness and dramatic sailor-warning angry pink sunrise skies. On my bike I have been pushed to a halt on a 1 in 4 descent on Dartmoor by the force of the headwind, before being blown off the side of the road by the crosswind. As a family we have climbed the tors and huddled for shelter, holding the smallest one to stop her blowing away. The joys of the British winter are myriad.
Today we head to Trebarwith, for the last swim of the year, a brief moment of respite between family events. The surf is big, fast and powerful. 8-10 feet says Magic Seaweed. I sneak out between sets at the smaller, southern end of the beach. The cross-offshore gale is holding up the waves, plumes of spray blown high from the peaks. The water is still warm and the cloud thins allowing the weak sun to light it, a cool soft wintery blue, murky from all the sediment in motion.
I head along the back, to the far end of the beach, looking up frequently to make sure I’m far out, behind the outermost breaking sets. The swell is big, wintery and powerful. Behind the largest ones all I can see is an uphill waterfall of rising spray, high in the air it arcs as the nearest and biggest of the waves peak and then explode onto themselves billowing clouds of spray, lit by the sun and producing momentary rainbows when the low winter sun catches. I really don’t want to get caught in that.
I get as close to the far northerly cliffs as I dare, but the swell is breaking far out and the surf is charging onto the rocks below the cliffs. This would be an unsatisfactory place to end my day. I turn and head back against the chop and as the safety of the beach draws closer allow some wallowy backstroke and cloud watching while monitoring the sets. When the time is right I put my head down and sprint for the shore, getting in before the swimmer-eating gnarly ones return, and allow myself some time in the washing machine of the shore break. A great chance to clear out both the sinuses and the winter cobwebs.
The children have been entertaining themselves with the waterslides and whirlpools the beach offers for those who enjoy such pleasures. There are few other children availing themselves of the facilities, unsurprisingly. All the photos are of these events as I suspect my wife has tired of bothering to try and spot her semi-aquatic husband, not without good reason.
I have spent the last year recording adventures here. I may take a break now and try a new project. I’ll resume when the time feels right.