Tag Archives: Comeraghs

A pictorial tour of my 2012 open water swimming locations

This post is now part the My Swimming Life, 2012 series.

I must start with the Guillamenes and Tramore Bay and Kilfarassey of course, my main swimming locations.  My usual range in Tramore Bay is between Newtown Head (under the pillars) to the beach, along the west side of the bay, most of the range seen in this first photo, with much less regular venturing across or out deep. (I also regularly leave the bay by passing around Great Newtown Head into Ronan’s Bay).

Tramore Bay
Tramore Bay, May 2012

Swimming range in Kilfarassey is mostly based around swimming out and around Brown’s island, Yellow Rock and the big arch. Once the water warms up I will up past Sheep Island.

Kilfarassey, August 2012
Kilfarassey to Sheep Island August 2012

Other locations on the Copper Coast: Bunmahon, Gararrus and Ballydowane. I didn’t, that I recall, swim at Kilmurrin, Ballyvooney or Stradbally this year. Funny how you just don’t make it to some places each year.

Tankardstown, past Bunmahon & to Tempevrick
Tankardstown, past Bunmahon (in behind the middle medium island) to Tempevrick
Ballydowane Cove across to St. John's island
Ballydowane Cove across to St. John’s island
Gararrus across to Sheep Island
Gararrus across to Sheep Island with Eagle Rock just visible behind

Clonea beach, but only a couple of times. I didn’t swim at Baile na Gall.

Clonea beach across Dungarvan Bay to Helvick Head, new Year's Day, 2013
Clonea beach across Dungarvan Bay, past Carricknamoan, to Helvick Head, New Year’s Day, 2013

Sandycove, Garrylucas, Ballycotton, Myrtleville and across Cork Harbour.

Sandycove panorama
Sandycove panorama, the first and fourth corners of the island to the Red House
Garrylucas, April 2012
Garrylucas, April 2012. Most boring photo of the year?
Ballycotton Lighthouse
Ballycotton Lighthouse
Myrtleville beach at dawn, Oct. 2012
Myrtleville beach at dawn, Oct. 2012
Roche's Point to Power Head
Roche’s Point to Power Head

Round Beginish Island, but I missed swimming at Derrynane, Finian’s Bay or Kells this year, which are usual Kerry locations for me most years.

Valentia Island and Sound panorama with Caherciveen bay and the small islands, July 2012
Valentia Island and Valentia Sound panorama, with Caherciveen bay and the small islands, July 2012

Kingsdale to Deal, Dover Harbour, and Cap Griz Nez.

Kingdale Beach
Evening on Kingdale Beach
Dover Harbour from Dover Castle, July 2012
Dover Harbour from Dover Castle, July 2012
Les Hennes to Cap Gris, July 2012, taken on one great day with good friends.
Wissant beach to Cap Gris nez, past the WWII bunkers, July 2012, taken on one great day with good friends.

Inishcarra, Coumshingaun and Bay Lough are the lakes I can recall swimming. First year not swimming in any of the Kerry lakes for a while.

Inishcarra reservoir
Inishcarra reservoir
Coumshingaun Lake panorama
Coumshingaun Lake panorama, Comeragh Mountains
Bay Lough
Bay Lough, Knockmealdown Mountians

And of course Coney Island’s Brighton Beach and Around Manhattan.

Brighton beach, Coney Island
Brighton beach, Coney Island
Lower Manhattan
Lower Manhattan

All photos are of course my own.

Summer in Ireland – Mountain lake swimming 2

Recently, Alan Clack & I hiked up to Coumshingaun in the Comeragh Mountains, as part of his Channel taper in Ireland, and because we were looking for some cold water. The silence from Alan as we hiked upward was deafening. “What the hell are we doing”, I could imagine, and worse, going through his head.

Coumshingaun is another corrie, but one, (according to geology sources), of the best examples in Europe. I have no idea what makes it supposedly better. Apart from being stunningly beautiful.

The best way to approach is from the left ridge and from slightly above, a little bit of extra climbing that is then rewarded by a fairly level approach from above the lake’s picturesque outlet stream. The lake and the surrounding cliffs gradually coming in spectacular view.

The cliffs around the lake reach to 360 metres (1200 feet) high, the lake is about 800 metres long from the outlet stream to under the cliffs. The tiny white specks are sheep, seemingly capable of any climbing feat.

We circled the lake, to right under the cliffs, the steps of the cliff wall meaning probably the  top third was invisible from underneath and continued around back to where we started with Alan staying in for another 10 minutes for some further cold water acclimatisation while I dried and grabbed the camera.

It was my second visit in a week and the water was a fresh 12 to 13 degrees Celsius and perfectly clear unlike Bay Lough’s peaty black water. The lake floor gradually drops away instead of disappearing immediately and precipitously like Bay Lough. All around the edge underwater are huge boulders that the mountain has sloughed. And having previously swum across the centre, it doesn’t seem as dark as Bay Lough. Of course, you need to be at the lake before early afternoon as even in late summer the sun drops beyond the mountain and the lake falls into shadow, in the winter it only catches early morning light.

As Alan and I passed climbed on the ridge and into view of the lake on the ascent, the wind suddenly rose with our exposure, and I caught a glimpse of a water-spout, a shi gaoithe, (“water devil”) collapse over the exit of the outlet stream, the first time I’ve ever seen one, dying too quickly to be caught on camera.

Click for larger resolution

Done and dried, but chilly in the wind, we headed back down, passing above the lower small pool, leaving Coumshingaun behind, the clear day providing a vista of Ireland’s rolling countryside, the counties of Waterford, Tipperary, Kilkenny and Carlow all visible.

Related articles

 

Coumshingaun.resized

Summer in Ireland – Mountain lake swimming 1

Back in June after the Cork Distance Week, Owen O’Keeffe, aka the Fermoy Fish, Ireland’s youngest ever English Channel swimmer, suggested a swim in Tipperary’s Bay Lough, up in the Knockmealdown Mountains.

And so it was that the Fish, Dave Mulcahy, myself and Jen Schumacher, visiting Ireland for the Camp from California, met one morning in early summer at the car park two kilometres from the lake, which is at the end of a long boreen (small road).

I never knew the lake as Bay Lough, when I visited it on summer Sunday afternoons as a child. It was always the haunted lake, the bottomless lake or the Vee lake. The Vee is the scenic drive up through the Knockmealdown Mountains.

Bay Lough

The lake is a glacial corrie, scoured out of the mountains during one of Ireland’s regular glaciation periods, the last of which ended 18,000 years ago. There are stories about the lake the two of which I had remembered was that it was allegedly bottomless, and that no-one could swim across it.

Both superstitions seemed reasonable to a credulous teenager, even though the lake is modest in size. The lake and environs are very scenic, in a grim desolate way. I clearly recall on every visit how my father would try to skim a rock across the lake, never succeeding. Never did I see anyone swim in it, not even my Dad, no stranger to doing stupid things outdoors himself, a trait I seem to have inherited.

It’s a pretty small oval lake, maybe four hundred metres on the long axis, two hundred on the short axis. The pass looks down on the Golden Vale, valley of the Suir river, often said to be the richest and most agricultural land in the world.

The Golden Vale, Slievenamon mountain in the distance

The mountainside is covered in rhododendron which blooms in late May and early June and can be pretty spectacular, if you ignore the fact that it is an invasive highly aggressive bloody big weed. Mountain lakes tend to be a bit colder than the lower ones, the temperature was about 9 or 10 degrees Celsius. The water is dark and peaty from the mountain run-off, and underneath it’s black as pitch, the blackness that inspired the legends of bottomlessness, and the cold dead hand of the poor drowned Colleen Bán, with whose legend I tried to scare Jen. Channel swimmers aren’t easily scared.

There’s a misogynistic legend about Petticoat Lucy, the Witch of Bay Lough that’s worth reading, just for the context. This bit though is true: “If you were ever to visit the lake itself you will be struck by the feeling of loneliness that surrounds the area.”

A nice little swim. No legs were grabbed by the cold dead hands of the lost souls of the lake.