I am currently writing a mini series on wild swimming in the local area for the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. This blog was first posted on The CSS Blog 10/07/17.
At the Cornish Seal Sanctuary, the staff are crazy about all things marine and what better way to learn more about the sea than to get in it? As part of Team Turtle, I will be telling you about some incredible wild swims around Cornwall, highlighting why it is so important that we keep our oceans safe and telling how you too can explore our coastline and get up close to the species that live in our waters.
The first Wild Swim took place at Rinsey; located on the South coast near Breage and home of abandoned engine house Wheal Prosper. I love Rinsey; not only for its beautiful views and pristine aquamarine sea, but also because it never gets busy. This could be due to the limited parking or the fact that you have a 10 minute decent onto the sand, but either way, it is a peaceful place to visit.
The beach here is a small stretch of golden sand, with rocks on either side of the cove which make excellent rock pooling. You can head down the main path and onto the beach to access the water from the sand, however it is at low tide that the area really comes into its own, revealing small sea pools which are fantastic for a bit of private, luxury enjoyment.
I always start with a coastal walk – the opportunity to see choughs, buzzards, kestrels and stonechats is not one to be missed, plus it’s a great excuse to get nice and warm before cooling off in the water. I walked the path as usual, past the mine which has stunning views out to sea through its old stone windows, and along the coast path, before climbing down some rocks to a secluded location. The water is currently around 16 degrees in July and due to its being a very hot day, I forwent my usual 7ml wetsuit and ventured in wearing just shorts and a tshirt. My first activity was to swim from rock to rock, exploring the area and getting used to the water. As these natural pools are essentially very large rock pools, they were teeming with activity. Idotea (tiny crustaceans in an array of stunning colours) clung to the rocks just beneath the surface in their droves, small shoals of electric blue fish zipped around the water column and a compass jellyfish bobbed along the surface. It is always a pleasure to watch jellyfish; navigating the waves as they look for plankton to dine on. With such an abundance of jellies in our local waters, leatherback turtles are attracted to the water around Cornwall but I have never been fortunate to see one!
After a while of bobbing about I decided to head out into the sea. The water was calm and clear and made swimming an easy, relaxing task. Swimming up and down, making sure I stuck within a safe area, my mind going blank with the rhythm of the strokes.
Upon exiting, as I sat on a rock and readied myself for the walk back up to my car, a large dragonfly appeared from nowhere, sailed over the rocks and skimmed across the water out to sea, proving that Rinsey really is a fantastic place to experience all that nature has to offer.
Distance covered = 1 mile = 2000 steps
Access: Moderate. Not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs. Small car park.
Facilities: None. Porthleven is a short drive away with cafes, bins and toilets.
Dogs: Allowed all year round.
Notes: Check the tides before you visit – at high tide all beach is covered and can make swimming very tricky
Wild Swimming top tips:
- Always wear sunscreen – apply before and after your swim, especially on hot days
2. If it is a cold day, layer up with a rash vest and wetsuit, cover your head with a swimming cap and make sure you can get dry within the first minute you exit the water.
2. Take a snorkel and a mask with you – and if you can, an underwater camera! The sea around Cornwall is brimming with exciting life and it is worth taking a closer look.
3. Avoid cramps by drinking plenty of water and not over exerting yourself
4. Adhere to signs – if they say not to swim, don’t swim. The sea can be very dangerous; strong currents and riptides can kill – don’t risk it.
5. Tell someone where you are going – or better yet, swim with a friend or in an area with lifeguards.
6. Know your limits – don’t push yourself; you don’t want to enter a depth you can’t handle or become too tired to get back safely.
Written by Alexandra Pearce