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Becky Bettesworth: my favourite wild swimming places

Grab your cozzie and er, maybe a thermos! Muddy dips into the Torquay artist's favourite local places for a daily paddle whatever the weather.

Becky, centre, with her bevy of bathing belles.

While Torquay artist Becky Bettesworth and her vintage travel posters are all about the destination, she’s been languishing at home during lockdown like the rest of us, with husband Matt and three children.

But no vegging on the sofa for her. Since last summer, she’s been taking a daily dip in the seas off Torbaydos, and not even in a shorty, mind, but just in her cozzie. We caught up with Becky to find out why (why, Becky, why?) and more importantly, her favourite where’s.

Ahoy, Becky, the water looks lovely, we’re coming in! (Actually we’re not, just going to chat to you from here if that’s okay?!)

Bravo, Becky! How do you ditch the wetsuit in winter?

My advice would be start to start in the summer and keep it going. It might be a bit of a shock to the system if you start in winter! Bring a thermos for afterwards. We bring a jerry can of warm water to douse ourselves in when we get out. It really warms up those freezing cold extremities!

What’s the appeal?

It’s a bit freedom during lockdown – an adrenaline rush. It makes me feel alive and invigorated, and I’d recommend it to anyone. There are loads of health benefits too, not just physically but for your whole wellbeing.

Tell us your favourite local beaches…

Meadfoot Beach

You can walk here along the south west coast path all the way round from the harbour. It’s a real locals’ beach: safe, with parking on the road opposite so good for paddle boarders and wild swimmers. It’s one of those lovely family beaches, and brilliant for rock pooling with little ones when the tide is out.

Anstey’s Cove

Stunning in the summer, I think it looks like Greece when it’s hot but it’s maybe a bit more rugged in the winter. You have to park at the top and go down quite a few steps so it’s a bit of a trek but it’s brilliant for a wild swim.

Oddicombe Beach

Providing the wind isn’t a south-easterly, here is great for a swim at low tide. The beach is a little bit pebbly, so you might want to wear a pair of rock shoes. I’ve seen seals here, but never up close. I’d probably scream if I did though I’d probably scare it more!

Torre Abbey Sands

A big sandy beach, really convenient to get to, with steps down and railings so you can be quite ladylike, nip down and be back in the car in no time. Winter is the best time, as it can get pretty touristy in the summer but off-season people go there just to swim because it’s very safe and not rocky underfoot.

Livermead Beach

Becky, left, with her mates warming up post-swim.

I’m not sure I want to tell anyone about this one! I love it too much. My friend Penny and I call it our ‘Heavenly Steps’. It’s perfect for wild swimming, with easy steps down and a little dovecote, on the main road out of Torquay, so unless you’re walking you might not spot it.

It’s here that’s inspired my latest artwork, Stay Wild, which is the first one I’ve made about wild swimming. Normally when I’m in the creative zone, I’m really quick but there’s so much going on with the kids at home and we’ve got builders in at the moment. It’s taken a leetle bit longer than usual!

WIN a Stay Wild artwork signed by Becky!

So inspired is Becky by her new hobby, she’s created a stunning new artwork, Stay Wild, and she’s giving away a signed one worth £24 to Muddy readers! Freestyle it over to Muddy’s Reader Treats for your chance to win.

3 comments on “Becky Bettesworth: my favourite wild swimming places”

  • Jane Snow March 7, 2021

    I’m a fair weather wild swimmer from before the time it was called wild swimming. Like Becky, there are some places you are reluctant to tell others about because they are so special to you. Unfortunately, with all the talk & TV & books there are lots more wild swimmers in those places. I must learn to share!!

  • Fiona March 2, 2021

    Being new to the joy of wild water cold swimming I can totally relate to the essance of the spirit of these beautiful images. It’s a joy that I never knew existed as even though I would go to the seaside, I would never actually get into the water! I actually thought ‘get in the water, no way, you must be mad’. In 2020 when communications and outlooks were so bleak, I’m thankful to have taken the plunge. Swimming was the light that kept joy flowing to me (and any friends who also participated in taking a dip). And now at the beginning of March 2021 – 9 months on from when I took my first dip, I find I’m still swimming, with no wetsuit apart from a pair of gloves, booties and a woolie hat, the sea is like the gift that keeps giving to me. I see the artist capturing friendship, joy, simplicity, love, ease, and unity in these images, which for me is the essance of what I am so grateful for what the sea has given to me.

    • lisabuckland March 2, 2021

      Wow Fiona, you make it sound amazing. Thanks so much for sharing – really inspiring.


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