River Swim

“Can you be there in 30 minutes?”

It’s the kind of message that spells adventures.

It was late one weekday afternoon in this recent hot spell. The sun was bright. The sky a brilliant blue. And my desk suddenly seemed very unappealing.

Because the mini-adventure being suggested was something I’d never done: swimming – properly swimming – in a Devon river.

RiverSwim1

No contest. 30 minutes later we were here: toes tickled by sun-warmed grass beside a river that flowed through dappled shade.

Feet in neoprene socks scrambled down the bank, sharp stones dug into toes. Inching in was squealingly cold. Then it’s ‘oh what the heck’ (or words to that effect) and a deep breath and a step and a plunge and: ‘whoosh!’ – cold water gasps and puffs.

Then water-borne conversations about flow and eddies and learning to swim – generations of Devonians have sketched their first strokes in this water. And chats about using the water flow to perfect swimming technique – it’s a natural resistance pool.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7694.

Next we were exploring a mini-island, discovering another stretch of water, and playing in a swoosh – the section of current that propels you downriver faster than you can swim, to deposit you safely on a sloping bank.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7690.

Blissfully cool. Sunlight glinting on water. Squeals from playing children. Youngsters jumping in.

This is something to value – friends who can unlock new experiences and places.

People, sensations, wild spaces. Playing, learning, enjoying.

A grin-inducing way to GetOutside.

The practical stuff:

I was lucky, a friend knew just where and how to swim. If you don’t, do your research carefully – nationally the Outdoor Swimming Society is a good place to start.

Devon & Cornwall Wild Swimming provides sound regional advice.

Wild Swimming Walks and Beyond the Beach, by Sophie Pierce and Matt Newbury are invaluable Devon resources.

While Ordnance Survey maps will help get you wherever you need to go.

Published by Belinda Dixon

I'm a travel & adventure writer (Lonely Planet), broadcaster (BBC Radio Devon & BBC Guernsey) and the British Exploring Society's media Leader on its 2016 Himalaya expedition. I write a blog that aims to inspire adventures; deliver inspiring training and record and edit powerful oral history archives.

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