Saundersfoot to Monkstone Beach. Saturday 5th August

Up early on Saturday morning to do a park run before swim (crikey what’s happening to me – all this exercise!): 5km in Colby Woodland Gardens just outside Amroth. Then into Saundersfoot for a full breakfast.

All the bollards in Saundersfoot had knitted covers with jellyfish and other sea creatures.

Overnight they had been transformed into woolly lighthouses, starfish, octopuses, fish etc. Fantastic.

We walked along the coast path back past the harbour back to our secluded beach. Though, now that the tide was fully out, the beach was long and idyllic.

We stuffed our warm clothes into the dry bags, phoned the Milford Haven coastguard to let them know our plans. They’ve been brilliant so far.

 

Left a pebble for Rache.

 

The water was calm. It felt like this would be an easy swim in calm waters.

Dan was hopeful of catching fish.

 

All was fine until we neared the headland at Monkstone Point.

It only took us about 30 mins to get to the headland. 

 

We thought at this rate we could get to Waterwynch in a couple of hours.

 

 

 

But coming out of the bay past the headland, the water completely changed. The current was dragging us back.

Dan and Kani, stopped to check their line and found they’d caught a fish!

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately it was a weaver fish – very poisonous!

 

 

 

So. no luck on the fish front, but on stopping, they spotted dolphins swimming along behind me.

Not that I’m jealous, really,  but while I was struggling with the tide, Dan and Kani were enjoying an amazing  moment of dolphin watching.

But thanks very much to a pleasure boat for stopping and asking me if I was okay.

And actually when Dan and KanKan caught me up and told me about the dolphins I found it quite nerve-racking knowing they were in the water with me and had been following me.

It took an hour to get around the headland!

Finally we arrived at Monkstone Beach – an incredible expanse of sand. Beautiful. 

I found a great place for my pebble. Someone had constructed an amazing pyramid at the back of the beach.

We hid the boat and walked back to Saundersfoot.

Feeling pretty knackered but pleased we’ve made quite an indent into the swim before the next batch of bad weather arrives.

Back to our field in Swanlake Bay to make tea and food on the stove.

[Thanks to Nigel for the stove which he made out of our old car’s wheels – works perfectly!]

 

 

Wiseman’s Bridge to Saundersfoot. Friday 4th August

Following two days of stormy weather with big big waves, the sea calmed down. So we went back to Wiseman’s Bridge to carry on with the swim. The beach was full of families enjoying the sun, the lovely Wiseman’s Bridge Inn was heaving, and there was a great summer holiday atmosphere. Here’s me blowing up my visibility float.

This time, Kani joined me on the swim with her flippers, mask and snorkel, hoping for good visibility, and Dan was back in the kayak. The water was really calm, so we were looking forward to an gentle, unchoppy swim.

We left a pebble for Rache and set off just after high tide with an easy launch of the boat.

Here’s Kani in her freediving mask, and Dan with his summer hat.

In spite of the sun, the water felt colder than last swim, and the first jellyfish of the day made me leap out of the water. They are always a surprise! But we got going quicker and with the gentle waves it was much easier to stick together.

We swam out of the bay and along the coast past the ‘Miners Walk’, where there’s a tunnel through the rock. I remember walking this stretch 13 years ago.

Dan put his fishing lines out but no luck again, unfortunately. We met another man in a kayak also fishing but he’d not caught anything either.

The visibility was pretty rubbish. Here is the view underwater. All you could see was bubbles. So impossible to see the jellyfish in advance. They just hang around in the water, waiting…

We swam along past the beach of Saundersfoot, and dodged a few boats as we went past the harbour and onto a small secluded beach on the other side.

Here we are coming into land. It was 5.30pm when we reached the other side. Just an hour of fairly easy swimming, but we were really cold, and got the woolly hats and lots of layers on quickly. In total, about 2km.

 

 

Here is the pebble for Rache tucked into a rock in Saundersfoot.

 

 

 

We walked back through Saundersfoot, through the Miners’ Walk tunnel to Wiseman’s Bridge, eating Dairy Milk; got to the car only to find we’d lost the car key. Luckily, a kind caravanner helped us find the key – You are a star!

Jellyfish Jemboree takes to the water

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.