100 Image Retro – Couch to 5k + ILDSA Lough Erne Swim

Shame we weren’t able to run the 2020 Couch to 5k with Waterways Ireland and the Share Discovery Village Fermanagh but here is a wee retrospective of the last 4 years courses and ILDSA Lough Erne Championships… Here’s hoping 2021 sees us getting back to training proper…

 

Flow Swimming Northern Ireland Open Water Coaching and Swimming with Mo McCoy + Paul McCambridge

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

 

Pollock Holes, Kilkee

50 - Clare - Pollock Holes and Kilkee Diving Boards - 01a WM

Swimming at Pollock Holes, Kilkee, Co Clare.

Words by Maureen McCoy, photography by Paul McCambridge

At the mouth of Kilkee’s horse-shoe bay step onto the barren and exposed landscape of the Duggerna Reef. Revealed at low tide, the reef is a plateau made up of slabs of rock smoothed by the twice daily ebb and flow of the sea. As the tide recedes several pools are revealed, these are the Pollock Holes.

Slipping into these sheltered pools where anemones wave their soft tentacles in search of unseen creatures the colourful underwater world is far removed from the hard and flat grey stone above. Even as the Atlantic rages at the edge of the reef creating swathes of sea foam which blows across the pools, gathering like curds and whey on the surface, one can peacefully swim and snorkel. The yellows and purples of underwater plants lighting up the pale waters.

Paul McCambridge - Diving - WIld Swimming in Ireland 02 WM

Off season at the diving boards near the Pollock Holes, Kilkee, Co Clare.  Near the Pollock Holes there is a tiny gap in the wall of the coastal road leading to a curved stairway. Passing signs of; diving prohibited / unsafe, the steps lead down to two newly refurbished boards which strain out along the side of the cliff.

These pools have become an institution and although well-known and even busy during summer they are well worth the visit. Check out the stepped diving area close to Kilkee beach. Warm up in the café with scones and hot coffee after your swim.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016

Hook Head Lighthouse, Co Wexford

 

50 - Wexford 33 Hook Head Web

At the very tip of the Hook peninsula stands Irelands oldest working lighthouse at Hook Head. A scramble across the rocks to the front and mid to high tide this rugged rock pool is created. Crashing waves are broken by the rocks and disperse into sea foam, the texture of bubble bath. Be prepared to have an audience at this rather public wild swim! Suitable for strong swimmers and calm conditions only.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland 2016

Hook Head Lighthouse 97 copy

Connacht Connections…

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media

 

Co Galway

Atlantic Masters Swimming Club Galway Sea swimming group skins and wetsuit

 

Co Sligo

Sligo Masters and Open Water Swim Club Skins and wetsuit 

 

Disclaimer; These are connections to like-minded folks – Please remember everyone swims at their own risk.

Connecting Outdoor + Openwater Swimmers and Dippers

Promote your Group or Club

We’ve been inundated with requests about where individuals can find groups/clubs who swim or dip outdoors around our coastline and waterways. We have decided to publish an online resource for information of such groups/clubs on www.wildswim.wordpress.com.

Any Openwater, Outdoor Swimming group or club who wish for their info to be put on our online resource please email swimfree4@gmail.com with contact info i.e. a contact Name, Facebook page link, Website, Email etc, also whether skins only, wetsuit only or both and general times that your group or club meet.

We hope this will give individuals looking for some company an easy way to find connections in their locality.

“Safety in numbers!”

Leinster Connections…

 

Connecting Outdoor + Openwater Swimmers and Dippers

 

Leinster Open Sea Swimming Sea Swimming in Dublin and Leinster. Leinster Open Sea and the Sea Swimming Clubs of Leinster run the Leinster Open Sea Calendar of Sea Swimming Races. Leinster Open Sea runs the two most prestigious sea swimming races in Ireland the Dublin City Liffey Swim and the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Race.  Website Leinster Open Sea Swimming

 

Co Dublin

40 Foot Walrus Winter Swimming Group

A Small group of swimmers who promote Winter/Ice Swimming , based at the 40 Foot in Sandycove, Ireland. Established 1850.

East Coast of Ireland Open Water Swimming Based at Killiney Beach, Dublin. Our Mission is to encourage all levels safely into open water swimming regardless of what you wear all welcome

 

Co Louth

Carlingford Swimmers Skins and wetsuit. Contact Harry G Jordan

 

Co Wicklow

Wicklow Swimming Club The Club is, traditionally, a Sea Swimming club with races taking place in Wicklow Harbour, the picturesque Wicklow Bay, and the Vartry river which enters the sea at Wicklow Harbour. The sea swimming season runs from the first Sunday in June to the end of August.

 

Co Wexford

Wexford Masters Openwater Seaswimming Club Sea swimming club based at Curracloe Beach. Website Wexford Sea Swimming Club

 

Disclaimer; These are connections to like-minded folks – Please remember everyone swims at their own risk.

******

Promote your Group or Club

We’ve been inundated with requests about where individuals can find groups/clubs who swim or dip outdoors around our coastline and waterways. We have decided to publish an online resource for information of such groups/clubs on www.wildswim.wordpress.com.

Any Openwater, Outdoor Swimming group or club who wish for their info to be put on our online resource please email swimfree4@gmail.com with contact info i.e. a contact Name, Facebook page link, Website, Email etc, also whether skins only, wetsuit only or both and general times that your group or club meet.

We hope this will give individuals looking for some company an easy way to find connections in their locality.

“Safety in numbers!”

Ulster Connections…

©Paul McCambridge
Couch to 5K swimming program, Lough Erne, Fermanagh.

 

 

Co Antrim

JLS (Jordanstown Lough Swimmers) Both skins and wet suits.

 

Co Armagh

Camlough Lake Both skins and wetsuit

Lough Neagh Monster Dunkers Skins only dunkers, Discovery Centre, Craigavon

Lurgan masters and open water swimming club Both skins and wetsuits. Lurgan and Craigavon.

 

Co Cavan

Gone Swimming – Cootehill Both skins and wetsuits.

 

Co Down

Ballyhornan Sea Swimming Group Skins and wetsuit

Donaghadee “Chunky Dunkers” Swimming Gang! SKINS ONLY GROUP  Skins only dunkers.

Brompton Belles&Beaux Dippers Bangor based

Le Grand Bleu  Meet at Helen`s Bay mainly on Sunday afternoon

 

Co Fermanagh

Trory Tuesday – Open water swimmer Brian O’Reilly and a few hardy souls swim at Trory Jetty, near Enniskillen from May through to October but many swim all year round. They have a Whatsapp group called Trory Tuesday.

Disclaimer; These are connections to like-minded folks – Please remember everyone swims at their own risk.

Promote your Group or Club

We’ve been inundated with requests about where individuals can find groups/clubs who swim or dip outdoors around our coastline and waterways. We have decided to publish an online resource for information of such groups/clubs on www.wildswim.wordpress.com.

Any Openwater, Outdoor Swimming group or club who wish for their info to be put on our online resource please email swimfree4@gmail.com with contact info i.e. a contact Name, Facebook page link, Website, Email etc, also whether skins only, wetsuit only or both and general times that your group or club meet.

We hope this will give individuals looking for some company an easy way to find connections in their locality.

“Safety in numbers!”

 

Munster Connections…

Co Cork

Ballyhass Lakes Freshwater venue near Mallow. Skins and wetsuit

Lough Hyne Lappers Skins and wetsuit

Myrtleville Selkies  Skins and wetsuit

Sandycove Island Swimmers Skins and wetsuit

 

Co Kerry

Tralee Bay Swimming  Skins and wetsuit swimming group based in Fenit. Contact Kevin Williams

 

Co Waterford

Newtown and Guillamene Swimming Club  Based in Tramore, Skins and wetsuit

 

Disclaimer; These are connections to like-minded folks – Please remember everyone swims at their own risk.

Promote your Group or Club

We’ve been inundated with requests about where individuals can find groups/clubs who swim or dip outdoors around our coastline and waterways. We have decided to publish an online resource for information of such groups/clubs on www.wildswim.wordpress.com.

Any Openwater, Outdoor Swimming group or club who wish for their info to be put on our online resource please email swimfree4@gmail.com with contact info i.e. a contact Name, Facebook page link, Website, Email etc, also whether skins only, wetsuit only or both and general times that your group or club meet.

We hope this will give individuals looking for some company an easy way to find connections in their locality.

“Safety in numbers!”

Taking the Duck for a Swim…

Words and photos by Maureen McCoy (so apologies they’re not Paul’s standard!)

Helen’s Bay was a treat this morning, okay it was low tide, there was a load of sea grass on the near side to get through and we had to walk a fair bit out until it was deep enough to swim but there was a healthy contingent of swimmers, one of whom had the cutest companion.

DSCF1224a

As she walked along the beach cradling this ball of fluff in her arm, I had to find out her story…

“Goose” is a baby Eider duck, possibly around three weeks old and has adopted Clare and her family to live and swim with.

On a kayak trip to Trasnagh Island, Strangford just over three weeks ago, Clare’s 14 year old son met with a morbid sight;

“he found a nest of dead birds, feathers strewn around and no adults to be seen, when he went back to his kayak this tiny duckling was on the seat. He lifted it out but it kept climbing back in again, so he brought it home.”

They think the duckling was only a day or so old. So they’ve looked after her, played with her and Clare regularly takes her swimming.

As Clare and her friends waded in for their swim Goose bobbed along happily swimming beside and between them. Looking for all the world as if she was thinking;

“Yes, I’m cute and yes, the conversation is all about me and yes, I’m fine with that!”

DSCF1225a

After her swim she’s very happy to snuggle into the crook of an arm and sleep, secure in the knowledge that she’s safe with her adoptive parent.

At home Goose has no worries about her place in the family, she pecks the dog and cats paws to keep them in check and even made strides towards the family goat – Clare managed to scoop her up in time saying that might be a bit more than she could handle – yet!

(Mind you, if she lives up to her name, she could be a worthy adversary – I remember my Grandma kept geese when we were small & they chased us mercilessly!)

Kerry+Geese

A real character Goose is quite happy to be introduced to new people; preening for her photo…

 

 

 

“She also loves a ping pong ball…” Clare told me, “We roll it and she chases it to bring it back!”

Not worried that Goose will just wander away, Clare says;

“She’ll stay with us as long as she wants – she’s a wild duck after all.”

 

DSCF1230a

 

Lovely to meet you Clare & Goose – Happy Swimming!

7 – Swims Challenge!!! – Wicklow Hills

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaUpper Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Upper Glendalough

Words by Maureen McCoy, Photos by Paul McCambridge

The Seven Lakes charity swim challenge started for us on the Friday afternoon. All packed with a bundle of towels, copious swimsuits and a huge parcel of snacks to keep us going for the two days, we headed south. It was a scorcher of a day which held great hopes for the weekend.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaSt Kevin's Way, Wicklow Gap

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media St Kevin’s Way, Wicklow Gap

Seven 1k swims in seven different loughs in the Wicklow Mountains could be made or broken by the fickle Irish weather.

Arriving in the early evening to the proposed first lough high in the Wicklow Gap we found a scenic parking spot to watch the sun go down over St Kevin’s Way. The evening light turned the land from brown to a deep glowing copper and the sky took on a hazy pink hue before the stars took the stage on a clear cool night.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaUpper Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Upper Glendalough

Early in the morning two Dublin Mini coaches pulled up and started spilling out swimmers with cries of “Where’s the lough then?” as they hauled bags from the rear.

Lough Nahanagan, a short drive below us past Danger and Keep Out signs, was perhaps not the wisest nor the most attractive place to venture for a swim! As we poured out of our coaches for this deliberation the barrier gate to the hydro-electricity plant was quickly and quietly drawn shut -security battening down the hatches against a group of rough-shod climate change protesters?

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Upper

©Paul McCambridge

None of us felt inclined to find out first hand how far electricity can arc or test the effects of electricity and water on the human body and so the unanimous decision was to move on to the rather safer option of Upper Glendalough.

Pilling back on board the coaches, I guess to the relief of the plant management, we tootled down the valley to the Glen of Two Lakes, already welcoming its first visitors of the day.

Startling those morning sightseers, we stripped down to our swim gear with the mist clearing and the lough perfectly still, just a hint of haze along the valley.

©Maureen McCoy / MAC Visual MediaGer Carty, Glöndalough

©Maureen McCoy / MAC Visual Media, Glendalough

The plan; to swim out 500m and when the first swimmer hit that distance and turned, we would all return to shore – I’m not sure if those first swimmers heard that instruction as they hurtled off like steam trains down the lake towards the rising sun.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaUpper Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge  Upper Glendalough

Now fully wakened we padded and waddled our way along the boardwalk to the Lower lough for swim 2. Once again treating the well-dressed walkers and tourists with their chic hiking boots to the sight of a motley bunch of swimmers in a plethora of hoodies and dry-robes, towels wrapped around their lower halves and squelching flip flops.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLower Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Lower Glendalough

The deer peeping out through the long grass, however, didn’t seem too perturbed at our fashion parade.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLower Glendalough

©Paul McCambridge Lower Glendalough

Thankfully none of us caught a glimpse of the monster in the lough who used to prey on the congregation way back in St Kevin’s time.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaGlendalough Lower

©Paul McCambridge Glendalough Lower

Next to Vartry Reservoir and, standing on the stony shore as the wind picked up a little, we prepared for a cooler dip. A pleasant surprise when it felt warmer. We were all well into our stride now and headed off down the lake in companionable strokes, bright coloured hats a striking contrast against the grey water. On reaching 500m a circle was formed – feet in the centre, sculling to hold form; little kicks in the centre – “Right leg – up! Left leg -up! Two legs – up!” And…sink, before returning to shore – another 1k done.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaVartry Reservoir

©Paul McCambridge Vartry Reservoir

Side-note; when the water is low here you can see the stone walls underwater, the remains of the village that lay in the valley before it was flooded in 1863.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaVartry Reservoir

©Paul McCambridge  Vartry Reservoir

Back to Roundwood and a picnic lunch; 3 swims down – 4 to go.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Dan

©Paul McCambridge  Lough Dan

Now, Lough Dan and what had been referred to as “A bit of a hike…” took the best part of an hour for us all to get down to the lake – with some grumblings. The water was low and as most started the long trek through the shallows, five of us went rogue and explored the river which flows into the lake. It started promisingly with us managing front crawl to the first bend. But from here on it was shallow, forcing us to scull, dog paddle and use the good old “crocodile crawl” to wend our way to the main lough. Still, we were off-grid and “venturing through the wilds…”

Once in the main lough we joined the group. Coursing through the blackness I could see tiny golden bubbles rising from my hands as I disturbed the silky water – from black, through gold to the surface grey sky above.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaCooper's Creek, Lough Dan

©Paul McCambridge Cooper’s Creek, Lough Dan

With not enough time and unlikely to get access to the Guinness lake, swim number 5 was re-scheduled to be a dip in the rockpool just below the bridge on our return walk. We had now re-named this river Coopers Creek. Clare once again led the way in, clambering over the rocks. Our circle was formed, this time perched on boulders and an attempt made at the syncro routine.

©Maureen McCoy / MAC Visual MediaCoopers Creek, nr Lough Dan

©Maureen McCoy, Coopers Creek, Lough Dan

For a final flourish, we each ducked into the small space behind the tiny fall to look out through the curtain of water streaming into the pool.

 

The first mizzle and rain of the day caught up with us on the steep climb back up to the road. Un-daunted we had only two swims to go – Upper and Lower Loughs Bray.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Upper

©Paul McCambridge Lough Bray Upper

These were the coldest of the day, the skies were grey and the light rain whisped through as we clambered inelegantly over rocks and stumbled our way in to each of these loughs.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Upper

©Paul McCambridge Lough Bray Upper

7 swims completed and still enough time to bathe with Fia’s Lake Soap from her native Sweden in preparation for our reservations at the Merry Ploughboy.

©Maureen McCoy/ MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Lower

©Maureen McCoy Lough Bray Lower

We all smelt quite lovely at dinner!

The 7 Lakes Swim Challenge drew two coachloads of seasoned outdoor swimmers, from Channel swimmers and Ice-milers to Wild swimmers, all ready for an adventurous day out with a great deal of craic raising money for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland;

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual MediaLough Bray Lower

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media Lough Bray Lower

If you would like to donate, please click on the link;

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/marathonmantoironman

Thank you all for a brilliant day!

Thanks to all the organisers including; Fia, Sarah (Aqualine) who printed the T-shirts, the two Stephens, Kevin and the ever patient drivers Daniel and Liam.