“Most of us live in a world where more and more things are signposted, labelled, and officially ‘interpreted’. There is something about all this that is turning the reality of things into virtual reality. It is the reason why walking, cycling and swimming will always be subversive activities. They allow us to regain a sense of what is old and wild in these islands, by getting off the beaten track and breaking free of the official version of things.”
Sorry if you don’t like Wales the next week is all posts from my trip to South Wales, if you love Wales as much as me then you are in for a treat! If not go back and read some older blog posts! During my break I spent a lot of time sea swimming, its one of my favourite activities I have got the art of getting changed in my car, in a cave or under a towel down to a tee. When I am hiking I always have my swim suit and a micro towel with me so when the moment catches me I can just get in! However with coastal walking which involves a lot of cliffs and sheer jumps and sea swimming where the sea can change in seconds there are a lot of dangers, so I thought I would share some points to stay safe while hiking or sea swimming. I am always very aware that I am on my own so I always text my best friend, she knows exactly where I am and what time to expect my next text. This day (the pictures are from) I went sea swimming on my own in a cove, exploring some caves and didn’t check the tide times which meant the tide came in and was hitting the rocks with a lot of force. Luckily I was able to pull myself onto a rock and was able to climb up the side of the cliff. It could have been really bad but I will never forget to check the tides again.
Coastal walking stats
- 201 UK COASTAL WALKING AND RUNNING FATALITIES BETWEEN 2011 AND 2015
- 499 CUT-OFF BY THE TIDE RESCUES IN 2016
- 478 LIFEBOATS LAUNCHED TO WALKERS AND RUNNERS IN THE UK AND IRELAND IN 2016
How to stay safe
- Be wary of all edges around the sea and waterside. Slips and falls happen in all locations; it is not just high cliff edges that are a risk.
- Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- Take care when walking in dark and slippery conditions.
- Always take a means of calling for help.
- Always check the weather and tides. Getting cut off by the tide is a common cause of lifeboat launches
Be aware of your swimming ability, open water is different to the pool. It’s important to go to a lifeguarded beach and abide by the rules. Tides change every day and the coastline is so variable, so be sensible and listen to professional advice. Swim between the red and yellow flags – these have been set down each day by the lifeguards to designate the safe area to swim in. Do your research on the tides and do not swim alone, always take a friend.
- Don’t swim when drunk
- Don’t jump in without knowing depth of water
- Make sure you know about currents
- Find out about the swimming place before you get in – both by speaking with people who live locally and checking the Outdoor Swimming Society map
- Before going into the water, make sure you know where you are going to get out
- Swim close to the shore
- Swim with someone else
- Start off swimming modest distances and then build up
Rips are strong currents running out to sea, which can quickly drag people and debris away from the shallows of the shoreline and out to deeper water. Rips are especially powerful in larger surf, but never underestimate the power of any water. They are also found around river mouths, estuaries and man-made structures like piers and groynes.
If you do find yourself caught in a rip:
- Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.
- If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
- If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
- Always raise your hand and shout for help.
The Countryside Code applies to all parts of the countryside in England and Wales. It aims to help everyone respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors.
Respect other people:
- consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors
- leave gates and property as you find them and follow paths unless wider access is available
Protect the natural environment:
- leave no trace of your visit and take your litter home
- keep dogs under effective control
Enjoy the outdoors:
- plan ahead and be prepared
- follow advice and local signs
After my little rock climbing adventure I was able to pull myself up high enough to put my clothes back on and continue climbing. I am very aware of my own abilities and if I really felt in danger I would have had to call the life guard, something I never want to have to do and a service we are very lucky to have in the UK. I definitely worked up the biggest appetite so headed back into town for so much food!