By: Blonde Two

On Thursday I forgot that it got dark. I don’t generally when I am outdoors, and even if I did I would usually be equipped with survival kit, navigation kit, decent head torch and spare batteries. These things are more tricky to carry however when you are indulging in a bit of evening outdoor swimming.

2 swimmy friends and I had decided to have an evening training in the River Dart for the Dart 10K event, which is on Saturday 9th September, which is next Saturday, which is, to be honest, a bit of a frightening fact. The plan (which should have contained time of darkness notification) was to swim about 600 metres upstream (great exercise), 600 metres downstream (feels like flying) and then repeat as often as we felt like it. It was also a great opportunity for me to test my new Blue Seventy wetsuit that the guys from Swim the Lakes had sent me.

Image thanks to Ju Lewis

The water, upon entry, was a tad on the chilly side (apparently wetsuits are not the same thing as central heating) but beautifully velvet with a sprinkle of autumn leaves floating on the surface and suspended inches below it. All of this was illuminated initially by a gentle evening light and at one point as we swam up I was raising my head to breathe and glimpsing traces of pink sunset. The pace was good and, once I had got used the restrictions of a wetsuit, was managing to keep up. We were 3 adventurers, alone in the water, cutting our way smoothly through its depths and shallows past countryside views seen by very few.

Being adventurers we couldn’t face turning round at the 600 metre estimation point and felt compelled to go on to complete a kilometre upstream. The swim got a bit harder, more pull was necessary and we no longer stayed still when we stopped swimming. The river was taking charge.

Copyright Ordnance Survey 2017 (OS Maps Leisure Maps and Aerial 3D)

It was as we turned around to head back downstream (the walking equivalent of downhill) that we noticed the encroaching darkness. The water no longer danced with bright coloured leaves, instead, it adopted a light-absorbing quality with little below the surface visible. The trees contributed to the speed with which darkness descended. As we flew back down with the flow, these guardians of the river banks appeared to bend and look at us in a disapproving manner. Not so much adventurers now as wanderers looking for home, we swam on down the darkening Dart.

Image thanks to Ju Lewis

We made it back of course, each of us finally admitting to moments of concern about the light levels and then celebrating together about the fact that, in all likelihood, we had been the only 3 women swimming in the darkness.

One for the girls I would say!