“I followed a rim of doughnut rocks to the white sands of Great Popplestones Bay. Apart from a solitary sun worshipper out of sight at the far end of the bay, I was alone. It was still April, and the swimming season could hardly be said to have begun.” Stocked up on pasties and San Pellegrino lemonade, Molly and I tread carefully down the stone steps and onto the waiting Firethorn ready… Read More

“One of my most vivid images from childhood is of the six Pullman camping coaches silhouetted against the sea at dawn, seen through the window of the night–sleeper from Paddington to Penzance.” The only camping coaches between Penzance and Marazion today are high–sided motor homes. Roger’s Pullman train carriages are long gone, no longer simply ‘shockingly dilapidated’, but taken away to the great breakers’ yard in the sky. Instead, skin singing after… Read More

“I headed down the coast towards Land’s End in search of turquoise water, and found it in the cove at Porthcurno. My first sight of the water’s dappled beauty was from high above the cliffs at the Minack open–air theatre.” After the seething waves at Godrevy, Molly and I want something a bit more amenable to a lengthy sunshine dip, a place where we can strike out and not trouble surfers with… Read More

“The mouth of the Red River at Godrevy is outlandish in a dozen ways. In its unassuming way, it embodies Cornish history. It is one of the few special places around our coast where you can swim in fresh water and look straight out to the sea, and an ocean horizon.” A pair of surfers wade clumsily through the Red River as it narrows, their long boards catching the wind as we… Read More

“The pool was forty feet across and up to six feet deep., full of mussels, sea anemones, limpets, starfish and barnacles.” Rested up after a day long drive and two late afternoon swims at Fowey and Helford, Molly and I make our way to north Cornwall. Despite schools being back, the beaches here are teeming, south west England collectively basking in the joys of an Indian summer. Motorhomes clog narrow lanes. I… Read More

“There can new few more inspiring sights than the oak–wood that crowds the water’s edge and spills over the Helford River, stretching out branches far over the narrow strip of beach that disappears under a spring tide when the river is brim full.” Still damp from our swim in the harbour at Fowey, Molly and I are now locked in a race against the setting sun as we wind our way along… Read More

“That afternoon I swam out into the harbour mouth, just to get a feel of the water and currents, I hadn’t intended it to be more than a short trial run, but was just settling nicely into the rhythm of the swim, and deciding that I might as well keep going, when I was suddenly intercepted by the coastguard.” Molly and I park up in Fowey slightly delirious, spilling out of the… Read More

“Next morning I drove out of Wales through the Black Mountains to the Malvern Hills in search of springs and open air pools.” Like Roger, Tom and I are high and dry on the Malvern Hills. Fences and warning signs are everywhere as we walk to the end of a dead end lane and reach Gullet Quarry. A family picnic down by the water’s edge, two labradors frolicking in the deep, cold… Read More

“I was on my way south from Edinburgh along the Northumbrian coast, where I came to the sands of Bamburgh beach, once trodden by the early Celtic Christians from Iona. In a flat calm sea I took a long, cold–water swim straight out towards the Farne Islands, almost hidden in the lead grey mist.” Keeley and I each suck on an extra strong mint proffered by the taxi driver as the car… Read More

“As the tide receded, Camber was all sand–pools, lagoons and impromptu sand rivers snaking to the tideline…The sea, brown with churned sand, was marginally warmer than at Dungeness, but still cold.” The pop of rifle fire crackles over the never–ending breeze as we cycle past the MOD firing range and back towards Camber. The bike ride to Dungeness had been fun, if a touch blustery, but this is pure torture. In low… Read More

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