Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Although now clouding over, today has had the feel of a Scillonian summers day. Expansive skies of Wedgewood blue, large cumulus clouds, sunshine that warms the soul, air that clears the mind. Pollinators of all kinds are busy flying between echiums, clover, bluebells the many more types of flora on Bryher.
The channel basks in the sun, the sea disappeared, to who knows where. No doubt the sea creatures are burying themselves into the cool, damp sand, or hiding under rocks and seaweed from the heat and the scavenging gulls.
Dotted like little ants, people wander in this miraculous land between Tresco and Bryher, heads down, searching for treasures of nature; starfish, squat lobster, shanny, anemone and crab.
It is quite a magical experience to walk the channel, looking back towards Bryher from a new perspective, knowing that in a few hours’ time you would be submerged in nearly six metres of seawater.
This is my first low tide swim. Crazy I know, but I always tend to prefer to swim at high tide. The advantage of high tide is the water is much nearer, also the current not so strong away from the main tidal channels. However, it is a new experience that I relish, so, leaving my clothes and book at the top of the beach I walk the 200 feet down across the sand and clay-like silt towards the sea. Rivulets run along with me. Piles of worm casts lay heaped and curled upon the flats of sand. Strewn seaweed, the tiniest of periwinkles, barely recognizable lumps of rusted, molten looking iron. If you sit and listen carefully, you can hear the sound of air and seawater popping and squirting from the bladder wrack.
Rows of mooring buoys sit, their rusted chains heavy on the ground. It’s about another 100 feet of wading in knee deep water, feet squelching in the slimy seabed, soft sea lettuce and codium wrapping around my feet. Once I start to swim, the water remains shallow, only a few feet deep and I can see the current dragging the seaweed in the incoming tide. Hundreds of daisy anemones are dotted in the sand as if it were covered in leopard spots. Great tendrils of kelp flow, alive and waving like squid tentacles. A huge sandbank mid channel creates the feeling of being in a wonderful blue glass lagoon, with sand in front and behind me.
I could swim for hours and get nowhere, just static in the tide. When I stop the effort of the swim I am swept along at great speed, as if on a roller coaster ride, but can easily paddle my way to the edge and wade back out onto dry land. The buoys that lay heavy on the sand now float and bounce on the rising waters.