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.

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7 thoughts on “Summer in Ireland – Mountain Lake Swimming 2

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  3. Hi my name is Sinead I have been reading the loneswimmers account off the latest swims Beal Lough and Coomshinguan and it gives me goosebumps ! It sounds so exciting I am totally new to open water swims apart from a triathlon in athy 3yrs ago which I bawked in the swim ,not because of fitness but because I hadn’t really practiced outside the pool . I would love more than anything is to do the helvick swim next summer , but unsure where to start ?… I have started zero to a mile training in the pool 2 wks ago .please help!!!!!!


    • Hi Sinead, I was away last week, sorry for delay. Helvick isn’t a big swim, you have loads of time. Just keep swimming through autumn, winter, spring, miniumom of 3 times a week if you can.Clare Morrisey in Dungarvan has a training schedule that I wrote fro Helvick a few years ago, it usually appears in the local paper. Also Clare & a few others organise swims at Clonea on Saturday & Sunday mornings at 9am during spring & summer for aspiring Helvick swimmers. I’d suggest getting a few swims at Clonea as soon as possible while the water is at it’s warmest, it will start to drop soon. Best of luck.


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