SwimVenture; Durdle Door, Dorset

September. The kids go back to school, the tourists go home and, after a rather mediocre August weather wise, the sun finally comes out to give a last hurrah to Summer. Scorching hot days with smothering heat and skies the colour of cobalt.

I wave goodbye to my youngest boy as he walks through the school gates, face brown as a berry against his new white shirt. I wonder at how it must feel to be wearing black socks and leather shoes after weeks of barefeet and lazy mornings. But he is happy to see his friends and doesn’t give me a backward glance. Yet again I realise how often I imprint my feelings upon my children, when I need not worry!

And so, I’m off. My rucksack packed, I jump in the stifling hot van and wind the windows down. I’m heading for Dorset’s “jewel in the crown”, the Durdle Door. I’ve been waiting all summer to swim here, and now, with a day not being “Mum”, and the space to breathe now the crowds are a little quieter, I’m feeling brave. It is my turn.

I’m the first vehicle to arrive at the Durdle Door carpark. It’s situated in the holiday park, so there are other people staying here, milling around, but none that are walking down the steep coast path to the beach yet. The heat is already 22 degrees, and the warm morning breeze evokes memories of past travels in the mediterranean. While I walk down the chalky white path to the beach I am serenaded by cicadas interspersed with the cries of seagulls and the silent wings of butterflies. The view is simply stunning. I breathe it in deeply.

Man O’War Bay, Dorset

Man O’War bay glistens below to my left, a perfect horseshoe with water so clear you can see the pebbles on the bottom from high up on the cliff. As the sun rises higher in the East, it’s rays sparkle on the turquoise blue water. It looks so inviting I almost want to jump in from here! As I approach the steps carved into the rock I stop and simply stare. Here, to my right, in the cool shade of the cliff, the imposing and magical Durdle Door stands, waiting.

Durdle Door, Dorset

I make the steep descent down to the water’s edge, stumbling several times on the dusty path. I can’t take my eyes off this incedible natural structure rising majestically up from the sea. By now I’m so hot from the walk that I literally throw my rucksack on the shore and run to the cold water with delight! With not a soul to be seen this is exactly how I’d pictured my long awaited swim here; A solitary swim out to greet the Door, sun shining, water clear as gin, and a stillness that I can literally submerge myself in.

As I swim out beneath the ancient archway I am blinded by the sun. I turn to float on my back and look up at the jagged rock, like a carved crescent of the moon. The sound around me changes as the water gently crashes against the stone. Above, the sky is cloudless and as I gaze at my surroundings I drift further out to sea, in awe.

There are rocks and caves along from the Door, rock pools full of darting fish and seaweed floating gracefully in the warm shallows. I decide to swim over and climb up to explore a while. I’m wearing rock pooling shoes but graze my shin as I climb up the rocks. Once up, I nimbly jump from one rock to another. I can’t be seen from the beach here and it feels incredibly secluded. Looking out to sea, I feel a familiar happiness wash over me, the sense of freedom that I get from being out in nature, alone.

I pick my way along the slippery rocks so that I eventually return to the entrance behind the Durdle Door. Like being back stage, I peer through and can see there are people arriving on the beach now. I know it is time for me to head back before it gets too busy. With one last glance over my shoulder towards the horizon, my inner wild child wants to jump deep into the sea.

One giant leap…

I leap from the rock and plunge feet first, hitting the cold water, waking up my whole body while billions of tiny air bubbles cascade upwards around me. I rise to the surface like a champagne cork popping. Heart racing, a huge child like grin on my face.

Back on shore I grab my rucksack and make my way up towards the cliff. There are lots of people coming down now. It’s a steep climb, but there’s a pleasant breeze against my damp hair and skin. I feel utterly invigorated, but also I feel intense gratitude for what I’ve just experienced. I am aware how lucky I am to be able to do this. Not just because I have it so close to where I live, and have the time to do it, but also because there are days when I simply don’t feel brave enough. My mind can play tricks on me, and my negative thinking over rules any courage I might have. This is why I am extra grateful on the days when I manage to make these SwimVentures happen. They are what keep me going…..

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