25/08/2016 by Carl Reynolds
Day three – Start Point to Beesands. And so to a day when the tide was at a good time to get in; and we were both free. Kari recce’d it out a week or so ago and found a path down to the bay below the lighthouse; where a solemn sign from the Trinity House Estate makes it clear that you are on private property and they will have no liability for your safety etc. We jump in. And round the corner into Start Bay. The water is clear and we can see a potter – who weaves in and out of us at a disdainful distance until Hallsands – reeling in his creels at buoys dotted about the underwater rockery.
We hug the coast for a while, but it’s still before ten; and aside from aforementioned potter; there is not a waterborne soul about. So we cut a little wider until we approach Hallsands. We can see cave after cave in huge slabs and the Stegosaurus-like ridge of Start Point meld into softer greens and wind bent trees as we approach the ruins of Hallsands. Testament to (take your pick) the folly of man/the greater needs of the nation/the force of nature; a village washed away after the beach in front of it was dredged for work down in Plymouth. I consider the lives lost and livelihoods destroyed and how the remaining houses now seem like second homes lived in briefly, or serially, by people who can afford the rent to holiday right on the edge of England.
We tuck into the beach a hundred metres or so on and I remove the bag round my neck. I can feel a major chafe coming along. And back in. Round the small headland separating Hallsands from Beesands. I sense Kari falling behind me, so I pause. And as I pause I hear a whistle. In a moment of redundant synchronicity, I assume Kari is asking me to pause. I pause. Later I find out that Mrs Ape was up on the cliff waving at me. And then, a lovely white, Victorian looking, house at the end of Hallsands. Past the bouldered sea defences, on to the beach and a handy towel from Mrs Ape. After an hour and a half, my fingers are a little numb, but the sun finally shows itself and we warm up quickly, before a stroll down to the Britannia cafe and some fish and chips.
We think of another swim. As we are swimmers and we honour those before, and ahead of, us with our ventures, and memories of their swims.