Wild swim: Branscombe Mouth, Devon

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Swimming in the sea on Halloween?! Yes please!

A three mile hike from our campsite down the cliffs to Branscombe Mouth meant we were all a bit pooped by the time we got there, but the sun was shining and the beach was clean and empty. Perfect!

I immediately pulled on my wetsuit but the sea was bigger than we’d expected, with quite a bit of swell, so not everyone was up for going in. Once past some head height waves the water was reasonably calm but it was pretty deep by then due to the steep drop off the shingles, so it was the right decision to leave the kids paddling under the watchful eye of the rest of our party.

An apparent cross current running parallel to the shore meant that it was easy to get pushed along the beach front if you weren’t paying attention, although it wasn’t very strong.

If you find yourself caught in a current, don’t panic. Currents will carry you along but they peter out. Don’t swim against a current. Instead, swim parallel to the shore, or diagonally towards it – eventually you will be out of the current and safely back on dry land.

I swam with my brother in law, who seemed comfortable in the water, even though he said swimming wasn’t his ‘forte’ and we spent quite a lot of time pretending to be starfish – easy thanks to the buoyancy of the super salty water and our wetsuits.

I managed about 20 minutes total in the water, heading back in when my hands started to get cold.

Although I feel aclimatised to water this temp (about 15C, air temp 19C) I knew it was time to call it a day. It’s really important to respect your limits in cold water. Numbness means it’s time to head in. Don’t think you can battle through as you’ll just get even more tired.

My arms were definitely sore the next morning thanks to all the ploughing through the waves. I woke up ready for more but thick fog put an end to that. Not sure if I’ll manage to get in the sea again this year, but here’s hoping!

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