Words by Tam
On a sunny autumnal day in September I embarked on a truly magical experience with Laura Evans aka the St Ives Mermaid, on one of her Wild Body Walks in Cornwall, UK.
Laura is passionate about Cornwall, the outdoors, the sea and being underwater; all passions I share with her so it is no wonder that once we met we connected immediately. As soon as I heard that she had launched her Wild Body Walks, I couldn’t wait to join her on one.
Laura describes her walks as being guided along the wild Cornish landscape to a beautiful off the beaten track swim location, whilst practicing body gratitude through conversation and experiencing the joy of being in nature. This sounded like my perfect way to spend an afternoon.
As a self proclaimed lover of tidal pools and of course wild swimming, I was more than excited to see what hidden gem she had planned for us to discover. In the process of arranging our walk she asked what my level of experience was of clambering over rocks and down cliffs and if I was happy to do this, along with how far I was comfortable with walking. Having the chronic illness ME my energy levels are continuously changing so on the day of the walk I assessed how much currency I had in energy supplies and felt I was able to embark on a bit of an adventure.
Laura advised me of what to bring with me and what to expect in terms of the location we were going to and the walk there, as well as the water temperature. With it being mid September, the sea temperature was at its warmest but with the changeable weather it was best to bring warm layers and a waterproof should it rain and some sturdy footwear to clamber over the rocks.
Prior to meeting up, Laura sent me a location pin for where to park, a lay-by on one of Cornwalls hedge clad back roads.
Wild Body Walk
Upon getting out of the car and meeting Laura and the rest of the group she gave us a safety briefing, explaining all the potential risks we could encounter on our walk and swim. We then had to sign a disclaimer form and before we knew it we were off trundling down a well worn footpath picking blackberries from the hedges as we went, leaving us with purple stained fingers.
There were six of us in the group, including my Mum who is well versed in wild swim adventures. As the inland footpath met the coastal path we started descending down towards the cliff and sea, where I got my first momentary glimpse of the tranquil waters of the tidal pool glistening in the sunshine.
Laura advised it was best to go with the “bum” tactic when making our way over the rocks towards it, basically you sit down on the rock and then use your hands to do a bum shuffle down the rocks. Being with Laura, who knew the best route across the rocks was priceless, it felt so great to be in the safe hands of her guidance.
Then we were stood by the calm waters of the tidal pool with the slow rollers of waves crashing just outside it. A sense of anticipation came over me mixed with excitement for what was to come. I stripped off my layers of clothes so I was just in my swimsuit and surveyed the tidal pool beneath me.
It was then time to enter the water, inch by inch, getting acclimatised to the cool water before diving under. It is a personal choice whether you want to go in naked, the others in the group were well acquainted with swimming nude and being amongst them made me feel comfortable enough to join in, so under the water I whipped off my swimming cossie and felt instantly liberated! Woo hoo!
Swimming in the clear and smooth waters of the rock pool surrounded by the crashing waves and sharing the water with a lovely group of people was such a tonic for the soul. After our swim we got out, dried off and hung around for a well deserved hot drink and snack whilst chatting effortlessly.
On the way down to the pool Laura had gathered some offerings for the tidal pool, a yellow dandelion and a blackberry, she crouched down at the edge of the pool and released them into the waters as a thank you for having us, such a lovely little ritual.