Penally to Lydstep

A tidal conveyor belt

The next day we got up early and took the bus back to Penally to swim the big stretch to Lydstep. I was really pleased that the weather was good, the sea calm, and we’d both had a good sleep. But when as we got off the bus in Penally, there was the red flag flying and the sound of gunfire. Particularly frustrating, as I’d checked the website in advance and there was no mention of firing for that day. A man at the sentry point commiserated ‘they never update their website’ and then ‘I reckon you could sneak round and probably wouldn’t get hit’. I didn’t like the sound of probably.

So we aborted the swim and rescheduled for the next day when Ellie Thomas was able to join us in the water. Her family brought their binoculars to follow us from the coast path. It was great to share this longest stretch with a seasoned open water swimmer.


The weather was mostly sunny, the swell was 2.5ft and it was 3 hours before low tide. My hope was that with the tide still going out, it would pull us around to Lydstep in no time!


And it did! In places it was almost like a conveyor belt, pulling us round the headland and between rocks.


We saw cormorants perched on rocky outcrops looking out to sea, whole flocks of oystercatchers skating over the surface. We saw  nesting holes, perching ledges, great caves and huge tilting rocks.

We came across a few climbers finding their footing on great walls of rock. That’s something I could never do.

We started getting cold after about an hour, and there were places where it was harder to swim, but it was so satisfying to be swimming with the power of the tide that we were able to keep going without any problem.

Close to the rocks  the visibility was incredible. Under the water looked like a kind of moonscape with great white rocks, and craters bulging and cracking; waving with seaweed.

Lots of different types of jellyfish: the normal giant barrel jellyfish, but also the smaller pink ones and purple ones and then one I’d not seen before: little white heads and long long skinny tentacles. I didn’t trust those ones, and kept getting little stings down the cleavage of my costume. I’m sure they were shedding bits of their tentacles! 


 We arrived in Lydstep after an hour and a half. Roughly about 5km. Dan had caught 2 mackerel and 3 pollock



Ellie’s boys Bryn and Morgan met us enthusiastically, and they found a special place to put Rache’s pebble.

We all built sandcastles and ate chocolate biscuits.

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