Amroth to Wiseman’s Bridge: Tuesday 1st August.
We’re off! A quick shot of caffeine at the New Inn before heading off. Bit nervous as the forecast is 4.5ft choppy waves and gusty winds, but we wanted to get started before the really monstrous 10ft waves ground us on Wednesday.
This is the start of the Pembrokeshire coast path. Our plan today is to swim at least the 1km to Amroth, and if all goes well, to go two more km to Wiseman’s Bridge. I’m carrying memorial pebbles as I go, leaving a pebble in each bay to remember Rache and Russ.
The team today: Dan, me and Eira.
The forecast was right: choppy waves! It made swimming hard and kayaking even harder. Dan had to go a long way out in order to avoid getting seasick. Must remember next time to work out a system of communication! – me with my ear plugs in and Dan trying not to vomit over the side didn’t really help with monitoring each other’s safety.There were no mackerel anywhere near Dan’s fishing hooks unfortunately. Plenty of jellyfish though! Big barrel jellyfish. Not a great feeling when you kick something solid, or your hand reaches up inside something rubbery. Can’t be much fun for the jellyfish either.
The first stretch along Amroth was fine, – psychologically easier seeing my progress past all the groynes, and knowing there’s lifeguards out there and that we can get back to the beach fairly easily. But past that, where it’s only rocks and scrub, the tide felt stronger and it all felt colder and lonelier. I worried about Dan and Eira in the boat.
But I must have got past some mental wall, because after about an hour I began to enjoy it. It’s an amazing feeling to be less than a mile from a beach full of holiday makers and yet to be all alone and at the whim of … well, jellyfish.
Thinking about Diana Nyad (who swam for 3 days/nights from Cuba to Florida in her 60s – really worth listening to her Ted Talk). She talks about having long playlists of music in her mind that she sings to herself through the hours and hours of swimming. I can’t imagine swimming in shark-infested waters, with box jellyfish that attack your central nervous system. This is the closest I’ll ever come to that! And I can’t remember the words to a single song to sing to myself as I swim. So I just swim and enjoy the feeling.
It took two hours to reach Wiseman’s Bridge. 3km. A lot longer than I’d expected. But swimming into the bay, where families were building sandcastles and playing on the rocks felt very satisfying. Dan had carried dry bags full of warms clothes on the kayak and I piled on the layers. I placed the pebble in a rock that seemed designed for the pebble and we joined the crowds at the Wiseman’s Bridge Inn. Great pub – and they’ve kindly agreed to let us leave the kayak there for safe keeping until we’re back for the next stretch.
We walked back to Amroth along the coastal path picking early blackberries and damsons on the way. Back at the start, we found that someone had left a pebble next to mine with a spiral on it. How lovely. It felt reassuring somehow, a kind of positive message from the universe.
We met the lifeguard on the way home who said the forecast for the next few days are showing severe weather warnings. So it’ll be a few days before we head out on our next leg: Wiseman’s Bridge to Saundersfoot.
We’re staying in a field in Swanlake Bay – no electricity or wifi – so writing the blog will be sporadic.