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Posted by on December 23, 2013 in Place, Writing |

Sugary Cove

Sugary Cove

Yesterday was something of a lull between storm fronts with the next few days (heading into Christmas) set for extremely high winds gusting up to 80mph and heavy rain. Time to cocoon. We don’t really celebrate Christmas other than enjoying the company of friends on the day itself. Having little family and neither of us engaging in nuclear family activity, we have little to do to complete our Christmas. Some local shopping for food and ingredients, the odd Christmas card, and… well that’s about all.


The Castle here at Dartmouth dates back to the 1400s and the church of St Petroc has a similar vintage. Recently it has had major repair and renovation work which has left it with a rather bright render, which will fade back into the landscape hue over time. The church hugs the rock and sits hugging the castle walls on this narrow spit of land right at the entrance to this strategic harbour. God it seems often makes bed with guns. This very fake looking tower was added in the mid-nineteenth century as a lighthouse and now serves as the tourist entrance to the Castle. So it is fake-and-not-fake I suppose.


So it was off to Sugary Cove and Castle Cove on the edge of the mouth of the Dart – Dartmouth. These coves are famous swimming holes, and many like to swim round from one to the other. Yesterday when we arrived the tide was still too high at Castle Cove, still pushed by the winds and holding high, and still perturbed and troubled by recent days’ weather conditions, making it unsafe even for the most intrepid to attempt to get in the water where rocks and concrete combine to make for un-soft landings.

N had come for a possible meetup with Sophie’s swim group although poor time-keeping on our part meant that by the time we arrived no-one was in sight. We walked over to Sugary Cove – it was raining heavy-ish at this point – and saw the bevy of swimmers just rounding the corner. They had similar thoughts about Castle Cove so although the original intention was to go from one (Sugary) to the other (Castle) they had instead turned round and were headed back into Sugary Cove.


I’ve been trying to find out just where this moniker comes from, and have failed utterly. I can surmise that it may have something to do with the smuggling of raw sugar, but why that would be when availability of beet sugar should have been reasonably plentiful I can’t guess. Even in the great age of information it feels a little refreshing that there’s mysteries here that can’t be unravelled from my desktop.

Water temperature 9.4C according to friend J who wears one of those swimmer’s watches that tells you everything about the conditions. That’s chilled off from 11C within a week – although temperature does vary from cove to cove and inlet to inlet.