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30 Days Wild - wild at sea

Posted: Friday 2nd June 2017 by HarryBarton

Wembury Bay by Lucy FlatmanWembury Bay by Lucy Flatman

30 Days Wild is now under way! DWT Chief Executive Harry Barton describes his favourite wild feeling, surrounded by the waves off south Devon

Wild is such an evocative word. We all have our personal images and sense of what wild means to us. But for me, here in Devon, wild means the sea.

There is absolutely nothing tame about the sea. It is vast and what lies beneath it is largely unknown. Its mood is unpredictable. It hosts a multitude of life forms that are far more ancient than almost anything on land.

And whatever direction you look in, you can be fairly sure that somewhere out there is a creature considerably larger than anything you are likely to see on a Devon farm. You just don’t know where it is!

I love walking along our coast, watching the waves smashing against rocks on a windy day or the play of wind and light on its heaving surface. But nothing beats actually getting in.

My favourite place to do this is beneath the rugged cliffs of southwest Devon, on secret stretches of rocky platform that only appear when the tide exposes them. 

Just immersing yourself is an experience. That shock as your feet and then your hands and other extremities strain to adjust to the cold. Lying back in the choppy water my eyes strain to take in the kaleidoscope of blues, reds, yellows and green that adorn the cliffs behind.

I watch the jackdaws chattering on the ledges, the fulmars diving at me to remind me whose territory I have had the nerve to set foot in. And the kestrel hovering above them all, waiting for its moment to grab some luckless rodent from the waving grasses beneath it.

Then there’s that moment when I put my head under water. It’s brief, at least to start with. Anything more than three seconds and I feel I’ve bitten rather too hard into a block of ice cream that’s just left the deep freeze. But once that passes, I dive under for a little longer and stay as still as I can.

The wonderful noises of the sea – the gurgles, the bubbles, that pulsing sensation, everything seeming that bit closer and more intense. It’s another world that I can only experience for a few seconds before coming back up for air and some warmth.

Each year we see new scientific reports showing how spending time in the wild makes us happier and healthier. But I don’t need any scientist to prove that to me.

Just to feel that invigorating cold, that brilliant light, those colours, is instantly healing. Whatever mood I’m in, whatever the weather, as I get out of that cold, wild sea, I feel that bit more alive

There is still time to take part in 30 Days Wild: find out more

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