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A Wild Swimming Summer

Paraphrasing Cornish literary legend William Golding, and there’s an ocean in all of us. He likens it to an image of our unconscious, but for me - it’s something I feel when I’m physically immersed in water and specifically while swimming in the sea.

Perfect For:
Water babies, Adventure lovers, Wild swimming

As an avid alfresco swimmer, I’m always extolling the virtues of getting wet and wild in open Cornish waters.

There’s something deliciously spiritual about wild swimming. Ethereal and embryonic, it’s like returning to the womb (in a non-creepy way) and is ultimately a rare opportunity to reconnect to our selves (us biologically being 60% water and all that).

A full body and mind work out in sublime watery surrounds means that nothing else on earth quite compares. And since you can dictate your own pace, setting and company – it affords an easy sense of freedom and achievement that modern day usually makes us hustle for.

Practically being an island, we are spoiled for choice in Cornwall when it comes to wild swimming locations. From beaches and coves to tidal pools, lakes and rivers, there’s a plethora of places to take the plunge and experience the riveting, cosmic pleasure that makes the numb, chaffing, snotty, seaweed-munching all jubilantly worthwhile.

So grab your goggles and find your local watering hole (minus the bar and booze) for some wild adventuring this season with Cornwall’s top swimming spots and events…

West Cornwall

As a native, I hotly recommend the Wild West. From Mounts Bay and St Michael’s Mount to Penzance’s prom swim between Newlyn Harbour and the Jubilee Pool (which hosts open water training for novices), easy access along with buoys and landmarks for sighting are key benefits of this beautiful, sheltered bay.

Moving further west toward Land’s End and Porthcurno is an otherworldly location where the beach to Logan’s Rock presents a more intrepid waterway. For die-harders, there’s the annual Brisons swim at Cape Cornwall, but be warned: it’s strictly a skins swim only!

South Coast

One of the maritime capitals of Cornwall, Falmouth offers an array of locations and popular events such as the Falmouth Castle to Castle swim and The Trident Challenge at Gyllyngvase.

The south area is awash with amazing scenery such the Helford River and a catalogue of coves to dip at your leisure; while further up the coast, Fowey presents its picturesque harbour to Polruan swim, which is perfect for beginners.

North Coast

St Ives Bay spans from Godrevy over to the Porthmoer-flanking ‘island’ and is one of my favourite haunts. If your land legs are as able as your sea ones, then try the annual biathlon, which sees competitors hot foot it from the harbour to Carbis Bay and swim back to The Sloop. Alternatively, check out this year’s Kernow Splash Mob Swims from Porthminster Beach.

Further up the north coast, there’s the Padstow to Rock swim; and with destinations such as Port Isaac and Polzeath providing prime wild swimming territory, there’s something to suit every swimmer’s agenda.

Central Cornwall

Not to be outdone by Cornwall’s ubiquitous coastline – the county’s hinterland sees The Big Cornwall Swim at Stithians Lake and the Tolverne Creek Safari on the River Fal both tap into Cornwall’s wild swimming scene sans the ocean.

With most public swims donating proceeds to charity, the sport is as philanthropic as it is physical. Just remember the golden rules of swimming safely: partner up/group together, tell someone where you’re going and always swim under the strict advisement of locals and lifeguards.

About the Author

A Wild Swimming Summer

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“Although wherever you are going is always in front of you, there is no such thing as straight ahead.” Jeanette Winterson

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  1. Graham

    Are there any inland skinny-dipping places you could recommend, please ?

    Jul 20, 2016 @ 2:15 pm

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