Placing a marker in time by Belinda Dixon
On Monday, a bunch of us hiked into the heart of Dartmoor.
It was a 5-mile trek, in defiance of the (very) wet weather to meet with fellow (as yet unknown) adventurers.
The aim? To wild swim a Dartmoor lake by the light of the full moon. To wild camp. And then to watch the solstice sun rise.
To cut (many) long stories short, we arrived from different directions. There was a lot of trudging and crossing rivers and getting wet boots. There were doubts and uncertainties and displays of sheer guts to arrive.
But we gathered, beside Red Lake (turned pink by the sunset); chatted, shared food and made new friends.
We swam in that chilly, velvety lake that cloudy night. Some wild camped, some bivvied (despite the whopping slugs). Then we climbed the Red Lake mound to watch the dawn.
So why did we do this? It was a Monday night, after a rainy 48 hours. And England were playing in the footy.
We did it because we could. Perhaps to place a marker in time.
Of course you can … By Belinda Dixon
On Sunday we swam across the River Tamar – and back. For many of the 50 wild-swimmers it wasn’t that far; a little under a mile. For some it was. For all it was a rare chance to bob about under the vast structures that join Cornwall to the rest of England.
So what is that like?
From the water the bridges arch and soar. High above cars rumble; a train rattles across. Feet kick, arms rise and fall, swim hats gleam. Kayakers check you’re ok, the back markers keep a watchful eye. Laughter bubbles and echoes under the bridge.
It’s spectacular, surreal (the strains of the regatta jazz band waft half way across), and very special. To be crossing the River Tamar with this joyful bunch of wild-swimmers; these why-notters, these life-seizers.
And really special for me because only the encouragement of others got me there. Friends who turned out to support. People who, when I said: “I can’t do that”, said simply: “of course you can”.
And that’s something lasting. As we drove back across the Tamar Bridge, it dawned on us that now, whenever we cross this river, we’ll think: “we swam that” as we look down 🙂
Sadly, this is one adventure you really can’t just do on your own (the Tamar flows fast). It was an organised event run by Devon and Cornwall Wild Swimming. It needed official approval, rafts of safety precautions and fleets of support kayakers and safety boats. Huge thanks to all.
So perhaps clock up other preparation swims and keep an eye out for future events. Then maybe see you under the bridge …?