Bob Holman wasn’t sure whether to tell Swimming Times readers about this wild swim as it is Dorset’s best kept secret!
“I had asked my friend Doctor Jonathan Easterbrooke to share his thoughts with me on his best and most iconic wild swim. Well I am afraid that Jonathan is like me when it comes to wild swimming, a bit of a head case and a little off the wall.
“His favourite place to swim turned out to be Seacombe, a rocky inlet between Winspit and Dancing Ledge. This sounded interesting because I knew that if Jonathan was in love with Seacombe, I would be entranced by its charms.
“I had been running my Swim Treck day for the East Dorset Open Water Swimming Club for the past couple of years consisting of a series of iconic wild swims around the stunning Purbeck coast. My first thought was to include Seacombe in this year’s swimming adventure.
“On Sunday 15 July 2012, our group of 22 intrepid souls set off to swim Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Stair Hole, Worbarrow Bay, Winspit, Dancing Ledge and Seacombe.
“Seacombe has kept its charms hidden from all but a few local people or more curious strangers. The south west coast path goes right past, but because it is unmarked, few stop to investigate.
“You climb over a gate and walk down a grassy path which then drops to a gully. At the bottom the inlet opens to the sea beyond. My air of expectation grew as we descended the gully. Would the swim be as good as Jonathan suggested or a bit of an anticlimax?
“I was not to be disappointed as the beautiful azure blue sea framed by the rocky gully drew me in. Seacombe is a stunning place and our group became quiet for a while as we took in its full beauty.
“It was by now a beautiful clear blue day but the sea was roughened by a few white horses. The best place to swim was from a promontory to the west of the inlet where you can dive from a rock a few feet above the sea into at least ten feet of water.
“It soon became obvious that the first challenge was getting in and the second most serious challenge would be getting out of the sea which was raging against the rocks. As I was changing I could see Jonathan with a small group of swimmers explaining how easy it was and how exciting it would be to dive off the rock. “Trust me, it’s easy!” he said. He might have added “I’m a doctor!”. In the end four of us decided to join him in this little adventure and were to be rewarded with an amazing experience.
“As I lowered myself onto the ledge, the raging surf took me and almost brushed me sideways. As you get older, your motor senses are not so highly tuned so I took my time to edge off the ledge into the sea. Magic!!
“The five of us swam around a little whilst Jonathan and Simon showed off their diving skills. I was never tempted as I always like to see the bottom of any water I dive into and very aware of some terrible injuries that can be inflicted.
“The sea was wonderfully clear with a forest of kelp highlighting the occasional fish that darted here and there. Jonathan shouted over “Let me show you the caves. They are brilliant!”. So we swam the hundred metres to the east to discover before us a cathedral of rocks opening up into a vast cavernous cave.
The sea was still quite rough crashing against the rocks and rushing through the cave entrance into the darkness beyond. The secret apparently was to go with the flow so as the next wave came crashing through the entrance,, we swam hard into the darkness. This was scary stuff and living life a little on the edge, but wonderfully exhilarating!
“Once inside the cave, I was able to look around. The water was calm and light from the outside highlighted a special place of fabulous natural beauty.. You can’t buy this experience and I felt so small as I looked at the intricate rock formations pink in colour that made a backdrop of stunning beauty. It had taken millions of years in its formation and I felt a sense of permanence that no matter what happened in the world, this will always be here.
“I wanted to stay longer but realised that this might cause a little anxiety for those we left on shore. We took the next rush of water out of the cave and suddenly we were in brilliant sunshine and the clear blue sea. As we swam back to the ledge I realised that perhaps the trickiest bit was going to be getting out.
“All the other guys in our intrepid group were a good 15 to 20 years younger than me and I guess, out of water, a lot more mobile. No matter, what was a couple of cuts and bruises against one of life’s experiences? I loved it!
I eventually managed to scramble onto the ledge which was covered by a few feet of water. I edged my way along the ledge whilst the sea bashed me this way then that. After several tumbles I was at the waters edge and ready to lever myself onto dry land. Somehow, Jonathan’s description of “easy peasy” was not as accurate as I had hoped.
“What a swim, what an experience, what a day to remember! This was not for the faint hearted but I am sure on a calmer day, it would have been much easier. So when you are next in Dorset, treat yourself to a wonderful walk along our stunning Jurassic coastline and if you stumble across Seacombe, stay a while and let your thoughts wander in this timeless peaceful place.”