Full Moon Calendar 2021

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@Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media

Last year hundreds more people took to the outdoors to swim and I know many of you are enjoying the exhilaration of this new adventure continuing through the winter. With the short daylight hours evening and night swimming has increased in popularity and a very special part of this are Moonlit swims, so below I have listed 2021’s full moon calendar – (times are for Ireland and UK)

JANUARY        28th 19:18        Wolf Moon or Chaste Moon 

Coinciding with a lunar eclipse this year, this moon represents renewal, cleansing and transformation, let the past wash away and set new goals

FEBRUARY      27TH 08:19       Ice Moon

The coldest temperatures in the water, we look forward to spring and the lengthening of days

MARCH           28TH 18:50       Storm Moon

Spring is beginning to peep its head above ground but despite the crocuses bright flowers the water is still very cold, frost and the chance of snow have not yet departed

APRIL              27TH 03:33       Pink Moon

A Supermoon this year, the days are stretching and the water temperature just beginning to rise

MAY                26TH 11:14       Hare Moon

This is the 2ndSupermoon of 2021 and represents the birth of animals and giving of life

JUNE               24TH 18:40       Strawberry Moon

Summer Solstice is upon us, a social time. The Celtic Druidic name is Alban Hefinmeaning ‘Light of the Shore’ – the seashore is a special place where the three realms of Earth, Sea and Sky meet

JULY                24th 02:37        Thunder Moon Or Buck Moon

A time for thunderstorms and gathering herbs to dry for winter

AUGUST          22ND 12:02       Hungry Ghosts Moon

To provide light for lost souls to find their way safely back into the afterlife people would light water lanterns and float them on lakes, rivers, and pools. Also known as the Sturgeon Moon a time of abundance and satisfaction

SEPTEMBER    20TH 23:54       Harvest Moon

The well-known Harvest moon celebrates abundant times, although the air is getting colder the water still retains a little of summer

OCTOBER        20TH 14:57       Blood Moon

A time to prepare for winter, the Blood Moon or Hunters Moon scatters blue light so more red light reaches your eyes.

NOVEMBER    19TH 08:59       Mourning Moon

The time to prepare for winter, for Pagans after a full year of accumulating it is time to let go of old unnecessary things and give yourself permission to mourn their passing

DECEMBER     19TH 04:37       Cold Moon

Also known as Moon before Yule or Oak Moon – a time for strength and preparation.

SAFE SWIMMING AT NIGHT

©Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media

Night swimming is a magical experience with only the moon and stars to light our way but with this comes additional risks, so please be safe;

Never swim alone. Swimming in pairs or small groups will still allow you to enjoy the stillness and peace but afford a safer environment.

Check your exit. It’s very easy to lose sight of your exit point so place a marker, fairy lights draped over your bag, a glow-stick or torch placed where you can see it, or where it’s appropriate a small fire is lovely to return to.

Swim parallel to shore. All too tempting to follow that elusive silver trail of moonlight across the water but be wary of venturing too far from shore, cold incapacitation can hit suddenly and can hit any swimmer.

Get out while you still want more. As we head into the beginning of the new year the water and air temperatures are plummeting, cut your swim time accordingly, you will enjoy so many more swims this way.

Organise your kit. When you’re cold and shivering the last thing you want is to be fumbling in the dark for your woolly hat etc, so set out your gear in the order that you like to get dressed to make it as quick and easy as possible.

Enjoy a warming cuppa with friends. Finish the experience beautifully.

Respect others. Some people want to have a quiet and personal swim, be sensitive to your fellows, respect their space and enjoy.

Stay Safe!

Benderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

©Paul McCambridge 2015 - MAC Visual MediaBenderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

Benderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

Words by Maureen McCoy, photography by Paul McCambridge                                      

Walk through the grasslands of Killard Nature Reserve to the beautiful Benderg Beach, home to sand martins and seals. Perfect to spend a sunny day swimming, picnicking and investigating the rock pools.

This superb strand stretching just over half a kilometre from the rocks of Killard Point to the sand cliffs and farmland which separate Benderg from its more popular neighbour Ballyhornan Beach.

You may see seals lounging at Mill Quarter Bay, where the strength of Strangford Lough’s tidal run creates whirlpools. This is not the place to swim, leave it to the seals. A twenty-minute walk from here through the orchid-filled grasslands of the nature reserve leads to the Beach. Tucked out of the way of Strangford’s powerful tidal race here you can swim in crystal-clear shallow waters as sand martins swoop from the cliffs across the bay.

©Paul McCambridge 2015 - MAC Visual MediaBenderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

©Paul McCambridge 2015 – MAC Visual Media Benderg Bay, Lecale Way, Co Down

Getting there: take the A2 Shore Road out of Strangford. At Kilclief veer left towards Mill Quarter Bay. Park at the roadside lay-by from where signs point to the track leading into Killard Nature Reserve. Follow the path past the mouth of Strangford Lough. The rough track cuts through the grassland to Benderg Bay Beach. Roadside parking, no facilities, twenty-minute walk to beach.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016

Scenic walk / family friendly / secluded / snorkelling / rock pools / adventure swim /

Grid ref:J 60722 43067

 

Bloody Bridge River Rock Pools

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Words by Maureen McCoy

Photography by Paul McCambridge

“You don’t actually get in and swim, do you?” This is often the incredulous question we are asked when we inform others of our intentions to venture out for a winter swim. Quickly followed by exaggerated shivers and a look that relays considerable concern for our mental stability, you know that look. If you’re the swimmer, you’ve received it and if you’ve not yet tried a REALLY cold swim, then you’ve probably given it to someone who has. Check the mirror, it may be on your face now…
Still, if you’re reading this, you’re curious – Yes, it hurts. Yes, it takes ones’ breath away and yes, it IS amazing. Your skin tingles, the sharp intake of breath as you enter the water, the thoughts that you can’t do it and then the realization that you can and, what’s more, you are going to. Okay, so it’s pride that takes over, someone else has gone first, you can’t turn back now and lose face, so you grit your teeth, clench and unclench your hands take a deep breath and… wait… just another moments’ preparation, delay, before the inevitable.
Shocking cold wraps your neck, pain cuts across your cheeks and every muscle in your back tightens. But as you try a few fast, uneven strokes you find that you can cope, those tight muscles may protest but they don’t tear, when you lift your face out of the water the pain in your sinuses eases and you feel the first flush of euphoria.
You tell yourself, “Next time I’ll get straight in, none of this faffing and going slowly, it doesn’t make it any warmer!”
I tell myself this every time, yet every time I go through the same routine! Still, I love it!

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