Colera to Llançà 3.25km, Aug 2020
Despite my passion, “Obsession!” (wifely input) to plan and squeeze everything out my X-country swim routes, I enjoy it when wind and waves conspire against my anal tendencies, laying waste, to all the ‘oh-so-clever’ planning. (besides, I get to play with Maps and Apps all over again).
The plan was, to take a walk, and look for a potential beach campsite (a ‘wild one’ if you must?) while waiting for more agreeable conditions to swim the next leg; Colera to Llançà. Just in case – as one does, I wore my crunch-up daypack to carry float bag, goggles and assorted swim stuff on my campsite recce – well – you know – just in case.
The short hike over the hill from the Colera marina to Platja D’en Carbassó and Illa Grossa is captivating. From dramatic cliff-side drop-offs as the path meanders around Punta del Frare, to the sweeping vistas of unspoilt beaches, vineyards, and a welcome absence of modern-day eyesores. Way, way off in the distance, the alluring and craggy coast of Cap Creus National Park – My holy grail.
Wind, waves, chop and slop were a right bloody mess, with all the makings of a haphazard, possible, return swim to Colera. But what the heck? Swimming in the Med makes you soft. Time to get bounced around, swallow a few waves and build confidence. I can bi-lateral breathe quite comfortably, but little good it did. Gusts and reflected waves gave me a good slapping from every direction. Crawling and coughing up Colera’s beach, to a few bewildered stares, I grinned back trying to project my best – “no really . . . you should try it . . . it’s great fun! BS.
A few days later, the seas had calmed, and I returned to a perfect little sliver of beach to spend the night and resume swimming at sunrise. My night-time roost consisted of softly rounded pebbles levelled with a piece of driftwood, groundsheet, airbed and mossie-net. Preferable, me-thinks, to lovely-to-look-at, but invariably, in-your-food, bum and every item of kit – sand.
Swimming across any bay, harbour or stretch of open-water on the Costa Brava during July and August can be a tad nerve-wracking. Pleasure craft of every size and speed abound. For so many reasons, I find the best and by far the safest time for open-water crossings is first light, sunrise. As summer days lengthen and the sun climbs higher, our puny, (though fashionable attired) football-sized heads and pretty little float bags, are barely perceptible through the glaring Mediterranean sun and ubiquitous distractions of cell phones and topless beauties.
First light – that wonderful golden hour when seas are calm, undisturbed by wakes or sea breeze is, for me, the most magical time to part company with the security of nearby shores. I’ll take dawn over any other part of the day.
From last night’s campsite next to Platja D’en Carbassó across to Cap Ras was a stunningly calm and unhurried 1km. The Med, as smooth as silk. Halfway across, I just had to pause and admire the tranquil beauty of the Fried Egg Jellyfish at the top of this post. (harmless and quite common in these waters) Low, early morning light, absolute clarity of water and the most perfect of conditions, resulted in images, requiring not even the slightest of tinkering.
Early morning kayakers and two serious ‘heads-down’, triathlete types passed me in the opposite direction as I swam around Cap Ras. The former exchanging friendly waves, the latter, not even bothering with the slightest acknowledgement as they surged past. Unsociable buggers!
Couples in search of intimate coves were beginning to appear, laying out coolers and shedding clothes. One sandy alcove was home to two hung-over, over-heated, mummified shapes. Forced from their sleeping bags by the blazing sun, they were emerging, reluctantly, like grumpy adolescent moths.
Needing a drink and a snack, I nosed into the very pretty pocket-bay of Cala de Bramant. Too shallow for boats, but perfect for kayakers and swimmers. Families were beginning to stake-out little patches of the beach and were not shy in keeping a beady eye my own. I was getting those ‘are you leaving’ sideways glances, normally reserved for prime parking spots.
Expecting the sea breeze to kick-in at any moment, I swam the last km+ from Punta de la Figuera to Platja de L’Argilera as-the-crow-flies. En route are more beach options from which to swim, all with easy access, showers and a beach bar. It’s another gorgeous section of coastline, all safely protected by the Vies Braves’, (Sea Swimming lanes) bright yellow buoys.
For those budding Iron Man types here is the Swimrun, Colera/Garbet section. Should this prove a little short on kilometres, you can easily extend it around Cap Ras (top right) south to Llançà. Bring your bike and camper van, and you’ll be in Triathlon training nirvana. Just don’t be an Unsociable bugger, give me a wave.
But no stroke of pen, bow or brush can ever truly reflect or replicate the beauty that is to be found in wild places. A beauty that must be felt, smelled, heard, seen and even tasted.”Tai Chi at Twilight, swimminghappyinmyskin blog