Tag Archives: Tramore Bay

Images of 2013 – 2 – Swimming Locations

I didn’t think 2013 was a great year for swimming new locations for me, though early in the year I’d hoped that would be different. Unsurprising, I suppose, as the longer I’ve been swimming, the further I would need to travel to swim new locations. I’ve covered all the Copper Coast, much of the rest of the Waterford coast and I’m not a fan of river swimming, and there are no significant lakes anywhere near me. Also, I had no big swim this year, not being able to afford one, and the situation looks the same for 2014. :-(

But that didn’t stop me having a look through the year’s locations, and there were a few I’d forgotten to add to my favourites and in review the year wasn’t bad.

I’ll start with my watery home, Waterford’s Copper Coast, and most specifically Tramore Bay from my usual starting location of the Guillamenes Cove.

Tramore Bay_MG_8972.resized
A very calm day in Tramore Bay in December, made even calmer through use of a very long exposure. The orange buoy is about 450 metres out, can’t be seen from distance in the water, and what I use to test my navigation skills during the summer, requiring of myself that I reach it with no more than a 25 metre deviation to either side.

It wasn’t all good at the Guillamenes this year. The increasing litigiousness of Irish society and the nonsensical and fearfully reactionary approach of Tramore town council and my own club led to this steel monstrosity, which so incensed Wallace.

Wallace Guillamenes

Newtown Cove is only 200 metres away from the Guillamene Cove. Though I swim past it on at least half of all my swims, dependant of swim direction, yet I start there less than one time in a hundred. We did however start the distance camp swim from Newtown Cove.

Cove entrance_MG_8971.resized

My favourite other location on the Copper coast is Kilfarassey, providing as it does a range of reefs, caves, tunnels and swim distances and directions, centered around my favourite playground of Burke’s Island which sits about 600 metres from the beach. As a swimmer and blogger I use more representational images. But as an aspiring photographer, I’m increasingly drawn to try to capture more of how I feel about a place.

Burke's Island IMG_8614_01In the first two of the extraordinary five whole weeks of summer that Ireland received in 2013, while the water hadn’t yet risen above 10C, I swam more on the coast at the east side of Tramore Bay. Swimming out from Ballymacaw, Portally and Dunmore East, including finally swimming partway into Seal Cave between Portally and Ballymacaw, a scary place. I’ve never swum this wild stretch of coast without experiencing strong tidal currents running east or west.

One Saturday in June, I took some photos of an inshore fishing boat passing below the cliff walk. Three days later I heard of yet another boat from the local main fishing port of Dunmore East lost with all three hands, all of them brothers, off Powerstown Head, which marks the entrance to Tramore Bay and can be seen in the first photo above, and which is the terminus of the easternmost stretch of Waterford’s coast. When I checked my photographs, it was indeed the same boat, the Dean Leanne, with two of the three tragically lost brothers onboard, probably the last every photograph of the brothers at sea. I found a connection to the family and passed on all the photos.

Dean Leanne & Hook head

In January a group of us attempted an Ice Mile in Dublin at the Bull Wall, but the water wasn’t cold enough, even though I got quite hypothermic.

The swim route. Nothing much to see here.
The swim route. Nothing much to see here.

A few weeks later In March, the same group swam in the Wicklow Mountains at Lough Dan. For a variety of reasons I decided against the full attempt but the trip was great, and wading into ice-covered water measuring less than two degrees at the edges was … interesting.

Lough Dan_IMG_1304.resized

 In the coldest spring in over fifty years in Ireland, Dee and I took some Mexican visitors to the West Coast for the view. The howling Force Eight wind and five degree (Celsius) air meant they were unable to emerge to see much of the scenery. But apparently the most shocking thing they saw was me going swimming in Doolin harbour in a three metre swell in a howling wind and crashing waves, wearing a Speedo, with a dolphin and two fully dry-suited divers. How Dee & I chuckled.

Beyond Doonagore Castle the Crab Beast roars
Beyond Doonagore Castle, Doolin Bay with Crab Island bearing a full Atlantic attack. This shot was taken three miles from that wave.

I don’t think my first Sandycove trip of 2013 was until April, but I managed more Sandycove laps in 2013 than in 2012. My lifetime total is still well below 200, so joining the Sandycove “D” Club of 500 lap swimmers seems distant at best and I shall to remain content with being  “C” club member. Most of the rest of the County Cork Coast eluded me this year, despite early promises from other Sandycove swimmers. And I guess I’ve written and shown you plenty of Sandycove before.

Morning view from the outside west entrance with the sun in the east. The slipway is on the left, some of the reefs at the first corner are appearing and the tide is dropping toward low.
The Red House above is no longer red.

April and May saw me returning to my usual caves on the coast, but leaving exploration for new caves until the water warms up later on in the summer.

Newtown Cave
It is impossible to capture the range of light visible to the human eye with a camera in one photograph but I love the reflections of this shot from inside Newtown Head cave.

I made it back to Coumshingaun in the Comeragh Mountains during both winter and summer. Coumshingaun is the closest lake to me, if one ignores the 45 minute climb, but only I swim it during summer as the edge is circled with rocks and being so far from a road the risks are too high to swim in winter. 

Coumshingaun in winter (Nat Geo filter).resized

Loneswimming Coumshingaun.resized

I’m not sure if I made it out to Carricknamoan rock off Clonea in 2012, but I was back there in 2103. It’s a swim that looks simple in the picture below, taken from the slight height above the beach, and is only about three kilometres round trip, but it still requires experience as the rock is so low that it can’t be seen until the last couple of hundred metres, and there are changing tidal currents.

Carricknamoan & Black Rock_MG_4927-resized.resized

 I also completed a short swim I’d scouted in 2012, swimming out of Ardmore Bay to the wreck of the Samson, under the cliffs of Ardmore Head. (Ardmore is the oldest Christian settlement in Ireland). You can take a shorter 10 minute swim to the wreck if you climb down the path to the angling point and start from there, but what’s the fun in that? While rounding Ardmore Head into the bay on the return swim, Dee took a favourite photo with mine.

Loneswimming IMG_4749.resized

While Distance Camp final weekend and the qualification and torture swims were on, I instead cancelled my planned attendance on the last weekend to catch up with a swim I wanted to do for many years, to circumnavigate Skellig Michael, the 800 feet high island peak the site of a 1500 year old ancient hermetic site, 12 miles off the Irish south-west on the end of the Continental Shelf. Another swim not for beginners, despite its short course.

NW reef IMG_7077.resized

During the summer, I also range out along the Copper Coast away from usual entry and exit spots, particularly liking to risk swimming across Ronan’s Bay, as the return trip can present currents strong enough to cut swim speed by two-thirds and generate a significant challenge.

Newtown Head and the Metalman & pillars from across Ronan’s bay

August is the summer peak for open water swimmers. Long warm(-ish) days (this is Ireland after all), warm water (16 to 17 degrees Celsius in August this year, exceptional) and races. Carol Cashell organises the local favourite Ballycotton 4 kilometres race, which is usually cursed with bad weather, late in August. It’s a challenging swim and the conditions the past two years have made it an experienced-swimmer-only race.

After the race, after the pub, I wandered back down to the tiny beach to catch the moon over the island.

Ballycotton Island moon IMG_8815.resizedSeptember saw two visits to Dover for Sylvain’s Channel Butterfly swim. So there were the usual swims in Dover Harbour,

Dover Harbour Entrance IMG_0196

…and a swim into France with Sylvain. Channel dawn.resized

Not a bad swimming year I guess, in reflection.

If the weather co-operates, when this post is published, I’ll be swimming at the Guillamenes for my Christmas day swim.

Update: The Christmas day weather didn’t co-operate. The swim was cancelled due to heavy seas, but I swam anyway and about 20 people foolishly followed me into the water. Foolish as the swell as almost three metres, and I’ve had a lot of practice at timing and rough water particularly in Tramore Bay. But everyone was safe and fun was had.

Maybe we’ll get to swim together next year but regardless, have a happy holiday and my best to you all, my friends.

Related articles

Images of 2013 – 1 – Swimming People (loneswimmer.com)

Half-arsing transition week

In 2010 during English Channel training Coach Eilís imposed certain strictures and deadlines. One of these was that on the first week of May  we would swap from primarily pool training to primarily sea training.


May. It’s a word and name laden with the promise of summer. In Ireland and the UK may is also the name for blackthorn trees which cover the landscape, and are one of the primary trees which appear especially in hedges. (The old saying Cast not a clout ’til May is out, is often a misunderstanding, that the May referred to therein is the month when it is actually the tree. It means to not remove winter clothing until the blackthorn has blossomed). But for swimmers May can mean warming air temperatures but can also mean lingering bone-chilling cold water.

Sea pinks and vetch on the Newtown cliffs
Sea pinks and vetch on the Newtown cliffs

The days of short winter weekend 10 to 20 minutes swims are over as swimmers feel they have to start lengthening out their training times.

In 2010 the training schedule called for an hour on the first day. And that time to increase every subsequent day. The first hour was done on Sunday, the temperature was ten degrees. The second day I swam one hour and ten minutes and was moderately hypothermic, not remembering a conversation I had with one of the Guillamenes locals afterwards. Each subsequent day became harder and my times never got any longer. By Thursday I cracked, phoning Eilís and, shall we say, haranguing her.

I’ve thought of the first week of May ever since as Transition Week and I think it is the toughest week of training of the year for Sandycove Channel Aspirants. Each day is slightly tougher, each day’s cold bites a bit deeper and lasts a bit longer, and each day’s recovery takes a bit more from your reserves.

I didn’t do Transition week last year and this year I had no plans to do it until, deep shock, we actually got some sunshine on the May Holiday weekend and the tides were lining up nicely. So I decided to half-arse it. By which I mean I wouldn’t do anywhere the same amount of swim time, but I’d have a go at trying to get a swim each evening.


I started at Kilfarrassey on Saturday. The tide was high late morning and the wind was onshore. It was a longer than usual lumpy swim out to the far side of Burke’s Island where it was too rough to swim in the centre channel or through the arch. I was back at the beach after about 45 minutes and a bit chilly.

On Sunday I swam at Ballymacaw, as you’ve already seen, about the same time. But due to the cold water outside I got a bit colder.

On Monday evening I swam to Tramore Pier, just around high tide. The water was a bit choppy, the swim down took 18 minutes and the swim back against the tide took 32. I’m so used the location that I forget that it can actually display an adverse tidal current at high tide on an onshore wind. Total time was 50 minutes but I wasn’t very cold.

Tuesday evening I swam out to the Metalman, second of my usual swims in the bay. The other include under Doneraile Head and back, the beach and back, or the Tramore Bay Double, Guillamenes to beach to Guillamenes. Conditions were still choppy and the evening was cloudy and cooler. I only swam 45 minutes.

Looking over to the Guillamenes in rough water

Throughout Wednesday the winds were building, but they were south-westerly so I hoped for some shelter from Great Newtown Head. However conditions were quite rough, with about a three metre swell. I love swimming in swell, even if, as was the case there was chop on top of the swell, but as I’ve said previously, the exit in choppy conditions is usually the most dangerous time in rough water. If the water is surging up the ladder and steps more than about six feet I forego the pleasure in favour of safety but this evening displayed the exception makes rule to my own safety rules. Because high tide was now in the evening, and it was also a spring tide with a strong onshore the water was washing up to the top of the steps. I timed the swell for ten minutes and found a period of about 10 to 12 seconds, despite the onshore wind.

Gorse and pinks on the cliff above an unswimmable Newtown Cove
Gorse and pinks on the cliff above an unswimmable Newtown Cove

I went back to the cliff top and looked at Newtown Cove just in case, but it was an unswimmable whitewater maelstrom and anyone trying to get back into the cove from outside was asking to be shredded on reefs. I returned to the Guillamenes and got changed. I very gingerly but still trying to be brisk used the railing to make it to the dropoff and threw myself extremely ungracefully into a gap. I swam very wide around the outside, heading east toward Powerstown Head for 50 t 75 metres before swinging south and down into the washing machine. This is the area directly outside Newtown Cove, along which runs a reef perpendicular to the coast which cause larger waves passing over it to rear up steeply, but usually not break. Swimming through or avoiding the washing machine was one of the early peculiarities I learned about Tramore Bay. I sat in the water and tried to take a few photos, and shot some video, just for fun and swam a few circles. In these conditions I was very wary about changes to the swell period or height that wouldn’t be apparent to me in the water so I didn’t want to stay out long. After 15 minutes I was back at the cove and I carefully watched a few waves while I set my position; not too close to the steel railings to be washed on the or the rocks right beside, not too far to make it in quickly. I darted in swimming well over the steel railings usually and grabbing the left side, trying to get braced before the next wave washed around the platform and across the steps. It was close, my footing was taken but because I was the seaward side of the railings being pushed onto them I was still braced. Had I grabbed the railings on the inside or on the right side, I could have been ripped off. Sharply to my feet again and out. A very short but fun swim.

What a 3 metre swell at the the Guillamenes looks like in the water
What a 3 metre swell at the Guillamenes looks like in the water

Thursday’s winds were even stronger and ended the hoped-for seven days of sea swimming. Not a huge amount of swimming, but it was a fun start to the summer swimming. (Not a single jellyfish yet seen, which is becoming increasingly strange. I’m beginning to worry they might be preparing an ambush).

And so I call it “half-arsing transition week”.

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 Storm Force on the Copper Coast

There is no swimming in this post. I really wanted to get swim just for the fun of it, but there was no safe exit point except at the pier and I knew I’d cause mass panic there, probably resulting in Rescue 117 being called out again. Does this mean I am growing up? Surely not.

Storm season is a nice phrase. Like Earthquake weather. And like the reality of  earthquake weather, storm season in Ireland is 12 months long, (as it seems for the past five years anyway).

Still, a couple of times a year we get a really big blow that hits the south and south-east. It’s half way though August, the month most Irish people take their hollyers (annual vacation), and a big low depression out in the Western Approaches drove a howling short-duration south-easterly Storm Force 9 onto the south coast. A south-easterly always provides a spectacle on the Waterford coast. Two trees were lost on the Loneswimmer Estate, and the brand new replacement diving board at the Guillamenes was snapped off, a board so heavy it took 6 adult men to lift recently.

High tide was late afternoon, and the wind increased from mid-day, luckily not hitting the maximum Storm Force until a few hours after high tide had passed. Anyway this is just an introduction. Everyone loves storms pictures. I took a lot of photos (400!) at the Newtown and the Guillamenes, Tramore Pier, Ladies Beach, and both ends of the Prom and managed to whittle a few I liked from the lot. (I’ve held a couple other back for future use, including my favourite). Long time regulars might have noticed I starting reducing resolution earlier in the year, to save me uploading full resolution images which weren’t required, it saves me time and WordPress Server space, and  saves you trying to load a 200 MB panorama pic. (I still have to go back and tidy up some of those, housekeeping isn’t fun).

Newtown Cove was wild before high tide and despite the rising storm, the sky was blue and the day was warm.

The sea breaking down onto the Newtown Cove platform. The blue sky only lasted a few minutes later than this image and was disappearing by the time I walked back to the car park.

Outside the Cove it was pretty big, waves looked about five to six metres, with occasional set waves at maybe seven to nine metres.

With the howling onshore, this meant breaking waves with spray reaching up to about 80 feet high.

The Guillamenes platform was completely inaccessible as waves exploded over it, occasionally even breaking over the top of the changing alcove. It wasn’t safe to go down past the first couple of steps, and it certainly wasn’t dry.

No wonder the diving board snapped with the volume of water bearing down on it.  Normally the board would be removed before the worst of the storms hit.

The bay provided a nice canvas. Tramore is a shallow bay, it was this type of onshore storm that was responsible for the loss of the Merchant Marine vessel the Seahorse in the late 19th Century in the Bay, and led to the erection of the pillars on Newtown and Brownstown Heads at either side of the bay, pillars you are well used to seeing here, the indicators of my swimming home.

The bathymetry of Tramore Bay is a long sloping sandy bottom with sandbanks going out a long way, which cause waves to jack up and break far out in these conditions.  And of course the bigger a wave the farther it reaches down to touch bottom, the slowing of the bottom of the waves is what causes it to break from the top as the lip spills over.

By the time I reached the pier, there were rain showers and photography became a bit more difficult.

From Newtown Head, past the Guillamene and Comolene rocks, into about a hundred metres in front of the pier under the cliff, was the direct straight line from the incoming south-easterly waves. The bay is shallow in front of the pier and there also are reefs and heavy thick kelp beds to suck the energy from the waves before they hit the cliff under where I was standing. And I finally got a decent image of something I’ve long been trying to capture; direct line of an onshore storm.

Taking pictures of just the sea is bloody difficult. Like you always look heavier on camera, photos often strip the power, grandeur and pure scale from the sea. This image isn’t as showy a photo as big breaking waves, not as obvious as most of my shots here, but this is a sea-lover’s image, at least, this sea-lover anyway.The beaten-steel grey-green of the Atlantic, Mananán Mac Lir howling and driving his chariot led by his white horse, Aonbarr of the Flowing Mane.

I shot some brief video above the pier, but with nowhere in the deep cliff-edge grass to anchor the small tripod and the wind buffeting me, I had to keep it short. I took also some video on the waterproof camera, but I haven’t reviewed it yet.

I moved into town, but got no good images at Ladies Beach. I’d gone through most of the lens wipes in my camera bag trying to keep the lens clear.

The town end of the Promenade and seawall is always popular during onshore storms, waves breaking on the wall, and you can get close enough for reasonable photography because there’s a nice dry spot right at the end of the prom. This time I didn’t spend too much time on the usual photos from here, and focused on some other stuff, life a father and son running and laughing and racing the spray over the wall. And the spray itself. I got really lucky on this one.

I went around the prom and onto the beach beyond the Surf Centre for a contrary view with the town providing the backdrop. I still miss the yellow and red of the lifeguard centre, the white roof is characterless.

I wish I’d been able to wish Hook yesterday, it must have been fun out there.

I really wish I were a better photographer, but I’ll keep trying. About 15 good images from 400 is an improvement on my previous rate of 1%. I have high resolutions of these images, if anyone want to purchase any by the way.

If anyone cares, someone(s) nominated loneswimmer.com for four categories in the Irish blog awards.

The categories for which I’ve been nominated are;

  • Getting Cold And Wet While Covered in Sheep Grease
  • MAMIL (Middle-Aged Men In Lycra)
  • Special Category for Inventive Use of Baby Dolphin Juice
  • Doing Stupid Things While Devilishly Handsome But Also Cold And Wet And Still Wearing Sheep Grease And Lycra

I’m told the award for the last one is a rubber statuette.

Maybe. Categories are never what they should be. LoneSwimmer.com will pass 150,000 views within a week and that’s not including the direct subscribers. I’ve got you readers, you keep putting up with this nonsense, ergo … je suis tres contente. Thanks again to you all.

Unusually good weather

The weather in Ireland has been broken for the past five days. It didn’t operate as normal. It’s the end of March and instead of the usual dull cold grey, it’s been warm, bright and sunny. So like quite a few others I changed to a few days of sea swimming and even did a 5k, which is a first for me for March. Last year I didn’t do 5k open water until June, in 2010 it wasn’t until the middle of May.

My assertion is, despite belief to the contrary, Irish people are actually optimistic based on the single fact that whenever the weather the good, we believe it will last forever,  even though we’ve had entire summers without five consecutive days of any good weather.

I’ve recently purchased a Kodak Playsport camera, which is waterproof and shoots HD video, for a very reasonable price of about £80. So finally, finally, I’ve started taking some video of Tramore Bay and Newtown Head to share my playground with you all, instead of just the usual static images. The water is still only 10 degrees Celsius so I couldn’t spend too much time floating and getting cold, but I’m delighted to have made a start. A couple of these were shot on cold bright days a few weeks ago.

Don’t forget to select YouTube’s HD option for each.

Lowest low tide of the year. Shot with camera sitting on rocks underneath normal low tide mark.

Looking out to the Metalman and Newtown Head.

Looking up at the Guillamene.

Out further toward Newtown head

Suddenly … Gráinne!

Newtown Head. Wait for the underwater bit at the end, and see the colour of my dreams.



My swimming range in Tramore Bay

After years of swimming T-Bay, I’ve gotten to know it reasonably well. A few years back I drew up a map of the pertinent features, from a swimming point of view. That map is a bit out of date, I’ve made a few discoveries since then, but I just keep it in my head now. Anyway, having swum into and out of, new parts of the bay this year, I did a quick map of my swimming “range” in Google Earth.

It’s pretty extensive. The area within the red lines are the areas I’ve swum in. It doesn’t include areas down the coast that I’ve swum to from the Guillamene. I’ve tried to roughly gauge the area from many swims, though the vast majority are similar swims, between the Metalman and the pier.

The two big additions this year are the spiky area pointing down and the spiky area out to the upper right.

The area across the bay to Brownstown is from a few over and back solo swims and plenty to about half way, and a couple of one ways back from Brownstown.

The spike out the upper right was an attempt to do Mo Snámh Mór Fada (over to Brownstown Head and back, unaccompanied)  a few weeks back that didn’t go well. There was an onshore Force Two again. I’d never done an over and back in those conditions but wanted to try it, since I’ve done a couple of half way and back swims this year.

After about 50 minutes of swimming to Brownstown Head, but feeling I was not going as well as usual, I checked my triangulation off Brownstown, Newtown, the Metalman and the pier and I discovered I’d been pushed further into the bay, maybe one to one and a half kilometres off course, something that wasn’t obvious when I was only sighting forward. I’d been driven to the far inside of the bay and the beach. To make it to Brownstown would therefore have been too long. The return to the Guillamene was tough as I was then heading more back into the wind and waves. It took almost two hours in total, not hugely far off my best over and back time, but I estimate it could have taken at least anther hour, though I think in fact it would have taken another hour and a half. I very rarely abort a swim. it was interesting, I learned more from it.

The spike to the bottom right was 4 to 6 weeks ago when I felt the need to get away from land altogether. It was a southerly onshore Force 2 wind on the way out, and was interesting. I’ve been out there once again since then.

Otherwise the only things of interest are that I regularly swim quite far out from the side of the bay when swimming in and out of the pier to Metalman.

A great photo Dee took yesterday. At full size, you can see four current trails from each leg and arm. It was rougher when I was returning.

Donal swimming past Newtown leaving current trails

Spring at the Guillamenes

Problem: Out of ideas of what to write about next.

Solution: Go for a swim.

From the Guillamenes down to the pier and out the headland, ( the “Guillamenes Double” as I call it, though I only went halfway out to the headland yesterday, due to Half-Claw). Water was 9.c C under the ladder, maybe quarter to half a degree warmer than outside, though with a warm spot out past Newtown Cove.

Result: Come back with a list of ten possible things to talk about.

Renewed by the sea once more.

Here’s a picture popular with the tourists that I should have posted a long time ago, but kept forgetting because I’m so used to seeing it, in fact I never actually took one myself until yesterday. The well-known sign from the Guillamenes.

Guillamenes sign-resized

The context for that sign , with Tramore Bay and Tramore beach and town behind.


Here are my two travelling companions, who haven’t appeared enough here also, elderly siblings (14 years old) and along with Dee my best friends Toby and Jo-Jo.

Though siblings, the Tubster (aka The Small Emergency Backup Dog, no longer small) likes water, (but not waves) while Joey (the boss) prefers hills.

Club Chairman Eddie Kelly was around but I forgot to take his picture or the Cabin ( a converted shipping container, much used for summer lunches by the Club, with sausage sandwiches of the traditional Waterford Blaas being popular). A blaa is a soft bread bap and is pronounced like the sound a sheep makes by the way.

Much work has been done at the Guillamenes since the end of last summer. There are new wider steps down to the water, new railing on the steps, all the steps have been re- concreted, a new stone and wood picnic table, all the metalwork repainted and in some cases replaced, new signs, new fencing along the top cliff and a new retaining wall added on the outside of the platform to increase the area for changing, mostly funder under a European Partnership Funding initiative, with plans for further work if the Club can raise more funds.

You coming?

Most of the maintenance of this area is carried out by the Club members, some of them swimming in this area for well over 50 years. In an era long before the modern concept of environmentalism, these people looked on the sea as a shared heritage for all, and sought to protect it and improve the local amenities. This is true local environmental action.

The steps down to the platform, not as long nor as steep as they seem in this picture, only about 30 steps.

And then there are the sea and the rocks. It was low tide when I took this, on a nice semi-sunny day, mixed clouds and sun. It was afternoonish so the sun had moved west from it’s usual southerly position when I’m there allowed a few better pictures.

Looking from the top of the steps toward Donerail Head and the Pier. It’s about an 18 minute swim down to the pier (average) and 25 minutes to below Doneraile Head. Down and back to the Pier is 40 to 45 minutes. Currents often form off the pier end. At low tide there are heavy kelp stands that need to be negotiated.

Here’s the platform from above. You can see the Compass Rose which indicates why this is a good spot in a westerly or southwesterly. In fact yesterday there was a brisk southwestly but the swim route was nicely sheltered. The blue pillar marks one side of the tiny covered alcove that gets more used in windy winter days.  The far end of the platform was the location of the diving board until it was broken the year before last. Hopefully we’ll have a replacement this year. There are also two locations where it’s possible to high jump from rocks, one of them is more visible as the light coloured area about half way up the nearest tall rocks, above the high tide line, the height obviously tide dependent, up to about 40 feet and another far more dangerous higher spot on the far side, which had a fatality a few years back.

Those No Fishing signs are important. The rocks are popular with local anglers. These ones between the Guillamenes and Newtown Coves have the favourite spot, and I’m the only regular who swims that way, just where the rocks stick. I’ve yet to be caught in a line.

And below are some Sea-spray flowers with Brownstown head across the bay in the background.

Below, looking out toward the headland, over Newtown Cove, with the three Navigation Pillars on the headland visible.

Rocks are more interesting than sand don’t you think? A landlubber can walk along a beach, yes, in itself a pleasant activity. But show a sea swimmer some cliffs or rocks and what do you have but something that divides us from our landlived lives. You must enter into or upon the sea to navigate and appreciate the obstacle and the view.

And where would this be without a picture of the famous Metalman, now redundant as so many navigation aids, yet which retains the affection of seafolk and locals.

Now I see him point not at danger, but at enticement, at my other home.

Hope to see you all down here for a visit sometime. He’s pointing the way

Tramore Bay again

A few better pictures today. Click to embiggen for detail.

First is old Tramore town from the beach, out to the Metalman. That church on the horizon is a useful landmark for aiming toward Doneraile Head when swimming in from outside.

Next is Brownstown Head on the east side of the bay also obviously from the beach. There was a lovely steel grey sea and mixed with a hint of offshore. Because it’s somewhat overexposed, being due south, it looks darker than the day was, which was quite nice, if overcast.

Next the Metalman, which you can’t see situated as clearly from much closer out at the Guillamenes. One of my two most regular swims, along with Clonea, is to swim from the Guillamenes out to Great Newtown Head and The Metalman, under those cliffs. (I’ve never seen anyone else swim out there unless I’ve taken them out, anyone else swimming from the Guillamenes will head in toward the pier).

Under the cliffs are a couple of large sea caves into which it is possible to swim on a calm day. My favourite cave requires a swim around the headland.

Finally it’s that stretch of coast from the Guillamenes to the Metalman.

On the right is the car park and the steps leading down to the cove. From the cove out to headland 12 to 20 minutes depending on the day.

The Metalman itself and the other two pillars were erected in the early 19th century after a famous shipwreck in the bay.

In a large onshore storm, the Seahorse, a military transport, came east past the headland. Thinking it was past Brownstown Head and into the safe Waterford Estuary, it was driven into the shallow bay and wrecked with the loss of about 350 lives, men, women and children and the Metalman was erected some years later to indicate that the next headland (Brownstown Head, which now has two pillars) was the headland to enter the estuary.

Waterford Coast high-resolution

Given that Google Earth doesn’t cover Tramore Bay in higher resolution, here are some pics from the OSI.

First is the whole bay, some of the currents can be seen. Next is the stretch of coast on thw west side where I swim, from the Guillamenes in the centre down to the headland with the old Metalman navigation pillars, and inward toward the pier. That stretch of coast is facing South East.

Next is Clonea Beach and Ballinacourty Lighthouse, Clonea is also facing the same direction but not as protected as there are no cliffs above the water. You can see the small rock of Carricknamoan that I often swim out to when conditions are good and the tide is high.