‘Goose’ the Eider duck growing fast…

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©MAC Visual Media – Picture by Paul McCambridge – Catch me if you can Luke! 

Goose’ the young Eider duck gained her name, partly after Tom Cruise’s wingman in the 1986 film Top Gun and partly as her rescuer liked the irony of calling a duck goose! 

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©MAC Visual Media – Picture by Paul Mccambridge. ‘Goose’ learning to forage 

 

Jack Childs, 14yrs, had kayaked over to the nearby Trasnagh Island on Strangford for a mini adventure when he came across the sad scene of devastation. Duck nests were trashed and feathers all around with no sign of any surviving ducks. That is, not until he got back to his kayak where a lone tiny duckling sat, in the cockpit seat.
“I lifted her out and looked for adults but there were none. When I turned she had climbed back in!”
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©MAC Visual Media – Picture by Paul McCambridge ‘Goose’ being told off!

Jack phoned his parents asking what he should do and, knowing a friend that could advise them, they agreed he could bring the orphan home and they’d care for her.
“I put her in my hat and she fell asleep on the way back”
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©MAC Visual Media – Picture by Paul McCambridge – Hitching a ride!

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©MAC Visual Media – Picture by Paul McCambridge – ‘Goose’ Foraging

Goose loves swimming with the Childs family, Clare says, “ She can stay with us as long as she wants, she is a wild duck after all.”

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©MAC Visual Media – Picture by Paul McCambridge – Strutting her stuff!

Silver Strand + Malinbeg Harbour Donegal

©Paul McCambridge 2015 - MAC Visual MediaSilver Strand, Malin Beg, Co Done

©Paul McCambridge – Silver Strand, Malin Beg, Co Donegal

Words Maureen McCoy – Photography Paul McCambridge

On the far western shores of Donegal not far from the great cliffs of Slieve League sits the pretty curve of Silver Strand at Malin Beg, 400m of golden sand beside a small harbour favoured by divers.

Six kilometres from Glencolmcille is the pretty Silver Strand beach at Malin Beg. It is a steep climb down the steps from the car park to the enticing white sands of the horseshoe-shaped Silver Strand at Malin Beg but worth every bit of effort. At approximately 400 metres long and gently shelving waters, this beach provides excellent swimming and set as it is down such a flight of steps, the strand is never crowded. Nestled beneath the grassy headlands it is as close to a perfect beach as you may likely find. Count the steps going down and on the way back up to see if you can get the same number!

The nearby harbour at Malin Beg is rich in sea life, making it popular with divers and snorkelers. The harbour is set in a neat natural cove, making it extremely well sheltered.

Excerpt from Wild Swimming in Ireland – the Book

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©Paul McCambridge – Silver Strand and Malin Beg Harbour, Co Donegal

 

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

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!”

 

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.

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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!”

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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.”

 

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Lovely to meet you Clare & Goose – Happy Swimming!

Lockdown Blues

After two months at home, thank the Stars and the Moon

We’re easing the lock-down and can move about soon.

Oh, I’ve missed my swimming in the Sea and the Lake

and my hands are all calloused from wielding a rake!

For years the garden had a perfunctory skiff;

A quick dash with the mower to tidy a bit,

A few Veggies planted then fend for themselves

But now, like so many, I’ve had time to delve.

My ramshackle greenhouse near bursts at the seams

With cavalcades of Courgette and Micro Greens.

The Tomatoes are stretching their limbs to the sky

While Carrots and Parsnips drain the water-butt dry.

And I’m learning the birds in the Garden that feed;

Chaffinch and Goldfinch, I keep them in seed.

I’ve now decorated the rooms in my home

Refresh and declutter – too long alone!

Lockdown Blues Image3MCC

And with all the exercise, I’ve realised I Like,

Walking and Yoga and going out on the Bike.

But I STILL miss my Swimming, so, while sipping Sloe Gin,

I came up with an idea, to bring the Outside… IN…

With too much time, and left-over paint I fear –

I happened to come up with this SPLENDID IDEA!

Bored with my Bathroom and no plumber to help

I decided to do a makeover, myself!

“What a Great Idea!” It seemed in my head,

“I can’t go to the Lake – it can come to ME instead!”

So, here is the consequence of binge-watching shows

On home décor and Art; “We’re ALL artists you know…”

I blame GRAYSON PERRY, so please heed my warning

Lest you should wake up to THIS every morning;

Lockdown Blues Image4MCC

My bathroom now has, at least for a while,

This Waterside visitor, who DOES make me smile;

He may not be Perfect, he may not be Grand,

But he was My piece of Lakeside, whilst Swimming was banned!

Words and photos by

Maureen McCoy 19th May 2020

‘The Towel Run’ – Sandycove Island Swim 2019

 

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

Words Maureen McCoy, Photography Paul McCambridge

 

Ned, as is his usual want to goad me whenever he sees me, for not having swum Sandycove Island. This July at the Lough Erne 17k he “upped the anti” by brandishing a large white towel with a list of names adorning it – English Channel Swimmers who’ve done a lap of Sandycove…

“You have to do your lap to get your name on this.”

 

So here I am, almost two months later, signed on the dotted line for the Sandycove Island Swim, along with 200 plus other swimmers – the draw of the towel proved too strong!

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

The forecast was not promising for the day with rain and wind due to drive in in the afternoon, around the time the race was scheduled to start.

Arriving in Kinsale with half an hour to spare for registration I collected my cap and time-chip from the organisers stationed at Hamlets and then caught up with some of the swimmers from the 7 Lakes challenge the previous weekend.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

4pm and the rain was lashing down! Umbrellas up as sodden swimmers gathered at the bottom of the road. Two Myrtleville Turtles vainly tried to stay warm zipped together into one dry-robe…

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

During the briefing Ned announced that the course would be brought inside the island – with the wind making it “quite lumpy” and a fog rolling in it would be unsuitable for many swimmers to do ‘The Lap’.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

My fears of a mad crash of swimmers all vying for space were alleviated when it was clear that we’d set off in waves of 30 – fastest swimmers first. “So if your number is 185, you will be waiting around for ten minutes or so. Stay as warm as you can…Ha!”

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

4.30pm and numbers 1 – 30 were called to line up and ticked off the list as they ran onto the slipway. The horn sounded and they were off as the next 30 lined up. The starts were quick, smooth and well executed.

The course; out towards the island, rounding the first large yellow buoy and then along the lee of the island, turn at the farthest buoy and return to the unmissable bright orange FINISH line.

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©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Island Swim

After standing about in the pelting rain the sea was welcomingly warm, a short tussle on the way to the first buoy and then, after the turn, the field opened up and I could relax into my stroke across the bay.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / Sandycove Island Swim

On rounding the far buoy my latent competitive urges piqued as I was flanked by two swimmers – one “skins” and the other wetsuit. I tried not to drop too far behind as the three of us raced our way in.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim, Mo

©Paul McCambridge / Sandycove Island Swim.

The rain was still pelting down as we hit the time check and climbed up the slipway, no hanging about – we each grabbed our gear and ran back to cars or vans for shelter.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge /  Sandycove Island Swim

Waiting for the traffic to clear we watched as the last of the organisers and boat crew were leaving and one lone swimmer came past on her bicycle. Through the pouring rain, water streaming down the road under her wheels, her black dry-robe flapping in the wind like something out of Harry Potter, she disappeared over the brow of the hill.

It was at that moment I realised – I still hadn’t done a lap of the island – I wouldn’t get my towel!

Link to results… Cork Masters Results

Neddie Irwin… 1st swimmer home

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim

©Paul McCambridge / Neddie Irwin –  Sandycove Island Swim

That evening the celebrations took us from Hamlets to dinner at Cru restaurant and then onto a local bar with live music and dancing!

Waking on Sunday morning to bright sunshine streaming through the windows, I was glad to see a complete turn-around of the weather having arranged to meet Ned for my lap of the island.

As we walked down the beach the tide was fast on its way out and Ned asked; “Have you ever swum around the island?”

“Yes.” I replied, “But you didn’t believe me and said it had to be witnessed!”

“Sounds like something I’d say.” he laughed.

“We need to go now though – soon there won’t be any water to swim!” Adding, “Whatever you do don’t walk on the rocks – your feet will be cut to pieces”

As we paddled in it seemed this would be more walk than swim and soon we were using a mix of crawl, sculling and good old crocodile crawling.

At one stage Ned managed to get completely stuck in the shallows – 6foot 6 of legs and arms “turtled” as he rolled about trying to find some water! As I giggled at the sight, I promptly ran aground myself and had to wiggle my own way across trying to avoid scrapes!

Finally outside the island we made it to deep water and a lively swim to the far corner. Here the breaking waves allowed us to surf in before returning to the slipway – my official lap done!

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©Paul McCambridge / Ned at Sandycove with bloodied knees – thanks for the guided swim and lunch!

Back at Ned’s we enjoyed the craic and a tasty lunch of steak and mushrooms all served up on Syrian bread and washed down with creamy hot chocolate – lovely, thank you Ned.

©Paul McCambridge / MAC Visual Media 28th Sept 2019, Sandycove Swim,

Thanks also to all the hard working and drenched organisers and volunteers for a super event.

Links to Sandycove Swimmers + Cork Masters