After stopping to taste the “World’s best hot chocolate” at Cocoa mountain, Durness, we make our way to Balnakeil bay.
A tumbledown old church and graveyard sit at its entrance, the grey stone soft in the early evening sun. This stretch of pure white sand is edged by cliffs that round its edges like a double cauldron. In the middle of the bay the rock pushes forward to create a division, a second bay. The tide is on its way out and we can walk in front of this cliff and all the crannies it hides – long inlets and shallow caves that shield away the wind.
I change here and run in – into water clear as if there was nothing there, but shining with all the reflected colours of the sky, the sun, the fractured light, the pale gold sand. The water is foaming at it’s edges, scallops of white lace, and it breaks on my thighs as I run through it.
When I’m past the breakers I count to three and push off. You can see the bottom clearly, with all its wavy sun painted lines. Ahead there’s open blue, shifting bands of colour until the water meets the sky. The clouds are shaded too – white and fluffy but edged with greys that define them and make them pop. Back on the beach I can see the towering cliffs, the way the wet sand shimmers and throws back an inverted sky.
Walking back, my jaw bone aches and I can’t stop smiling.
I’m raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society. Please sponsor me at http://www.justgiving.com/swimbonnieswim