This is the second part of a three-part series of a pictorial exploration of the Atlantic Ocean as I know it, primarily on Ireland’s south and south-east coasts. As with the last time, these images are best viewed individually at a larger size. All will be added at full resolution to my Flickr account.
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.
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.
Hook Head is one of our favourite places in Ireland. I’ve been lucky enough to finally get a new halfway decent camera so I wanted to take a visit to the Hook for some long-hoped-for photos for the site. A long flat low bare almost treeless peninsula in the south-east, at the other side of the Suir-Nore-Barrow estuary, it stretches out into the Celtic Sea and at the end is Hook Lighthouse, reputedly the oldest operational lighthouse in the world. (You’ll have noticed by now that I have a thing for lighthouses). Unlike most lighthouses, there are actually public tours and inside the modern tower are the older walls of the 13th century tower
The fastest way to the Hook from Waterford is on the car ferry at Passage East, the trip across the estuary takes about 4 minutes.
Just outside Duncannon is an old lighthouse for the inner estuary.
Halfway down the est side of the estuary is town of Duncannon which was used as a military Fort to protect the entry to the estuary.
Duncannon beach is very popular with wind and kite surfers.
The currents round the Hook are pretty vicious and it catches a lot of very rough water, howling winds and big unsurfable waves. It’s also a great spot for whale watching.
Before the Hook on the west side is an old small fishing slip, with only mere nubs of rusted iron stakes left in the rocks, which is a nice walk where few of the visitors go.
There are some interesting blowholes in the rocks, with a northerly offshore wind and flat water that day, they weren’t providing any entertainment but I took some a very short video there previously.
The dogs like the area.
The (probably apocryphal) story told locally is that that the phrase “by hook or by crook” derives from Hook Head, referring to Ireland’s historical bete-noir Oliver Cromwell who stated his intention to invade by Hook Head or by Crook Head, which is on the opposite side of the estuary.
The old residential buildings are used for a café and gift shop and children’s art gallery. The café serves the largest chunks of cheddar in their Ploughman’s Lunch!
Unsurprisingly for somewhere with a lighthouse, the area is surrounded by exposed reefs.
The dogs would happily stay playing around.
The first monastery (St. Dubhan’s) was built on the peninsula in the 5th Century AD and there are still remains of a later Church on the same site. In Irish the Hook peninsula is actually named after this Church.
There’s a great view of the whole estuary, and the western bank including Crook Head, Dunmore east, Creaghan Head, Woodstown and Passage East.
When we got home Toby would have stayed in the car. He loves the car.
Thinking of a visit? The Hook Lighthouse webcam is my favourite webcam.