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 30/09/17.
You might think that summer is over, but autumn is a brilliant time to swim. The water is warm and the beaches are quieter. Of course, your exit might be chillier as the air is cooler so bravery might be required, but all in all it is a very pleasant experience.
Falmouth, a bustling and exciting little town on the South Coast of Cornwall, has a big variety of places to enjoy the water. Hugging the coastline, Falmouth has several main beaches (Gyllyngvase, Maenporth and Swanpool) as well as hidden coves and beaches to explore. But the place I decided to take a dip was in the Fal Estuary, the river from which the town gets its name. The Fal, which is the third deepest natural harbour in the world, is home to a plethora of wildlife and even has its own monster, Morgawr, a 60 foot long sea serpent with webbed feet and a powerful tail.
In the centre of the busy hubbub of Falmouth are a couple of car parks which sit directly on the water’s edge. With several sets of steps which lead down to the estuary, it was at hide tide that I bombed off the side here, into the salty sea. The water was warm and pleasant (I was wearing a wetsuit) despite it being a cloudy day and I swam around in no particular direction, slipping between boats to take a closer look. The estuary is a busy shipping lane, so be careful when swimming here and always make sure you are aware of what is around you. There are floating pontoons with small sets of steps – fantastic places to haul yourself up and maybe spend a short time jumping in!
Heading in further to the shore is a great way to spot wildlife. Cormorants, shags and egrets are regulars around the area and there various fish such as bass and wrasse around. Every now and again, shrimps will attract large shoals of mackerel who will gather at the estuary edges, breaking the water’s surface in a feeding frenzy and attracting local fishermen.
As I bobbed around near to land, looking at the sea weed beneath me, 2 swans made their way over in my direction, heading to where the car park paying machine is, a place where they often settle and wait for tourists to throw them treats. I decided to make a hasty exit at this point, not wanting to share their space and instead sit on the side and watch them for a distance.
Distance covered = ½ mile = 1000 steps
Access: There are sets of steps down to the water. Car park has places to sit away from cars, but be careful when in the area.
Facilities: Bins in the car park, ample parking and
Dogs: Allowed all year round – my dogs love jumping in
Notes: The sun rises over flushing in the morning, meaning the view from across the water is Falmouth is spectacular.