Swimming in Swanage – an unconventional climbing trip

I was surprised how relaxed the last Friday in North Wales felt, knowing that we still had to get home at the end of the day. It helped that Rachel was driving, but the day was really well paced; getting back to Plas Y Brenin in time for tea and cake before a team debrief and it was time to set off. Having checked out and packed the car that morning Rachel and I were able to make a relaxed but prompt departure. It was still a long drive home however – Rachel is a legend for driving hours and distances in order to fulfill her mountain lust (tricky when you live in Kent) and I was very appreciative of it.

Got home 11pm

Got up at 6am and left at 7am to get to Swanage for an ICAS (climbing club) weekend trip.

Even taking into account a brief stop in Southampton on the way down that was the worst journey I have ever made to Dorset. I normally leave at 6am and the hours difference seemed to mean the traffic was so bad we didn’t get to Corfe until 12.30, by which time I needed to stop and eat or pass out. I adore Corfe with its mental castle and steam train, so stopping for lunch there was delightful, even if it did mean being considerably later than hoped joining the girls climbing. By the time we arrived the girls had already had a good mornings climbing and were winding down, but really I wasn’t there to climb rather than to catch up with my fabulous friends (managed to get some climbing in as well obviously!)

The girls had decided it was time to go swimming and as they and Kane (who had bought a change of clothes to climb in) jumped in I was to jealous not to join them… so stripped to climbing bra and trousers and got in anyway! I must have looked a right twerp (Alyssa has photographic evidence but fortunately I haven’t seen this yet). It’s funny seeing people in different environments. Gemma is at home on a wall, different terrains affect her differently and on some types of rock she seems so fluid it’s like watching somebody dance. Alyssa seems to look at her most comfortable walking or doing yoga (preferably in a field), you know those people you see in ‘motivational memes’ looking unbelievably glamourous? Alyssa can do that holding ‘dolphin’ pose and will then continue to look equally glamorous drinking a pint of ale at you. I’ve climbed and done yoga with Alyssa and Gemma before so this was no suprise, however I’d never seen Laura swim. If you think looking gorgeous whilst rock climbing, or sweating over downwards bloody dog is difficult, try doing it in the British seas – remarkable.

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After a swift walk to dry out (and some spare shorts), we stopped for drinks at the pub then headed back for a bbq and wine at the campsite. The drive was worth it.

Sunday was a very interesting day

Due to an unfortunate series of events whilst group A of our team managed to get off climbing group B made very slow progress. There was an extent to which, for the climbing to work, I was going to need to be leading – and I was finding that after 6 days straight I had reached my safety limit. In the end I called it and requested that we went to the beach for an ice cream.

I’m claiming this as an excellent idea! Crowded beaches are not my first, second or third choice of holiday destination, but sitting eating proper gelatto, people watching, swimming, watching (or avoiding watching) the punch and judy show – was all slightly surreal and utterly brilliant.

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Followed up by lunch in the Salt Pig in Wareham, stuffed, happy and tired we then drove back to London, a big tick list of things we didn’t do and a new list of things we did. I loved my unconventional ‘nearly a climbing weekend’.

An admission.

This post is rather delayed. I normally turn things round quickly after an event – after all the original purpose was so that Mim would know where I was. However I’ve been distracted and busy, there are many many things, three of which are really important; I think I might be ready to fess up to the first one and anyone following my instagram might have an inkling as to what this is… maybe we’ll see at the weekend.

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