Not Quite to Castle Bryher

Last night it rained, heavy and persistent. For the first time in months our windows were shut against the outside world rather than inviting it in. Whilst first light was still wet by the time the animals were fed the wind had ceased, the rain dried up and the calm after the storm settled over Bryher.

From the grassy bank of Great Par I watch the incoming tide seep in like a satin-like pool, quiet and still. On the horizon the Norad Rocks stand as monumental and grand as they have been for hundreds of years.

The tallest one is Castle Bryher. From the track behind the farmhouse I see Castle Bryher everyday, in moonlight, morning sunrise, twinkling in the summer sun, shrouded in mist, rain and spray and backlit by the sunset. She is beautiful, awesome, enchanting and foreboding.

I often contemplate swimming to her, a distance of about eight hundred meters, not far, but across deep and wild ocean.

Today a sudden and spontaneous desire to swim there, combined with good tides and sea conditions has us preparing the kayaks for an adventure.

As we leave the comforting safety and familiarity of the bay, a rainbow arcs above Gweal.

The water is glass clear, silky and wonderfully cool. Breathing and stroke soon settle into an hypnotic rhythm and I feel completely at one with the water. When I lift my head to breathe I see the water slipping by, barely a ripple on the surface. For a good 400 meters I feel comfortable, calm and confidant.

However in the corner of my eye I see Droppy Nose approaching on my left and the water begins to change. It’s not colder but darker, an abyss when I look down. A current starts to weave it’s way around my limbs, sucking and pushing against my skin.

half way there

Imagination and fear are strange bedfellows, as soon as the adrenaline starts to pulse through your body, your mind begins to run as wild as your heart.

I begin to feel that small and insignificant feeling, Grahams asks why I have started swimming breaststroke. I reply because I feel safer, when I look down its to a deep unknown place, above the surface is a world I know and understand.

We make it just past Droppy Nose and I bottle it. Each stroke away from home feels like a battle and one I can’t win today. Instead we turn and I swim back towards Little Merrick. Ironically I feel safe here, not long ago these little rocks were my nemesis. Now they are a pleasurable resting place on our return to the sandy shores of Great Par.

Little Merrick rocks

Not quite the swim I had aimed for but still we had fun, enjoyed a beautiful morning and bagged a lungful of fresh air and feel good factor to boot.

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