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!

Dennis Bree Swims a Mile a Day at Helens Bay to #EndFoodPoverty

Photos by Paul McCambridge, words by Maureen McCoy 

Many of us will have set ourselves a personal challenge at one time or another and this year has proven to be particularly apt with gyms, pools and sports clubs closed and a lot of folks either out of work or working from home, solo and outdoor challenges have soared. For many it’s a personal thing, health and wellbeing, a better lifestyle choice but sometimes we find a cause that we feel is so much greater than ourselves and incites us to use our talents to raise others awareness. 

Dennis Bree with his big wee brother Andrew

Dennis Bree, freestyle swimmer and brother of Olympic Breast-stroker Andrew heard of the plight of undernourished children in Belfast and decided he would help by raising funds for Life Hub NI, Belfast’s own food bank charity.

Dennis’ challenge; swim a mile a day in the sea for the entire month of November. 

His aim; to raise £10,000 

“I listened to Dr Julie-Ann Maney on local radio talking about the infants and children she treats in Belfast. Children who are so undernourished and hungry that they will tuck toast into their nappy in case they don’t get anything else to eat again that day.

This is 2020, this is so heart breaking and we have to do something to help.” 

Dennis was so moved by hearing Dr Julie-Ann Maney speak that he searched out the Belfast charity Life Hub NI and resolved to do what he could to support them.

Life Hub NI was set up in 2017 by Edmund Aruofor to provide fresh food parcels to support families and people in need in the Belfast area. 

With an energy and enthusiasm that belies his 60 years, Edmund told me how he starts his day at 4.30am, driving to supermarkets and independent stores who donate foodstuffs.

With a cheeky grin he says; 

“I’m 60 and I don’t feel it! I believe if you have a passion and a vision you don’t have time to get old!”

Working long hours every week and with the charity not closing for Christmas or Easter when would he find time to age? 

“I believe everyone who needs help should be given help”. 

Edmund has seen a huge increase in the amount of people needing this help since the pandemic with an average of 19 additional families every week earlier in the year, this week alone saw a staggering 30 new families reach out for aid.

It’s a far cry from his career as a printer in London and subsequently a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language when he settled in Belfast 5 years ago. Before that Edmund hadn’t been involved in food banks but his wife had. When he saw the need amongst his pupils’ in Belfast he knew what he had to do, and Life Hub NI was born. 

Edmund was aware of the amount of food that is wasted and believed he could get that food for free. He was right and M&S Forestside and Lisburn Road branches have supported Life Hub NI from the outset, he is now hoping wholesalers will come on board and be able to add to the produce it is his mission to collect and distribute.

As Christmas grows ever closer, more people are treading a fine line, we often hear of the plight of those having to choose between “heating or eating”, Edmund and his volunteers are doing an amazing job to try to alleviate at least part of the equation. 

With the generosity of Slims Healthy Kitchen, Life Hub NI have secured Christmas dinners for 250 adults and 110 children.

Funds raised by Dennis and others will help keep the vehicles on the road to gather and distribute supplies and aid in the running costs of storage and the Life Hub NI distribution centre in Townsend Enterprise Park.

To date (30thNovember 2020) Denis has smashed his £10k target and raised £10,480 

Donate at

http://bit.ly/32J1eH5

Or

https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-stop-food-poverty-ni

#HubLife#EndFoodPoverty

Other ways to help;

With covid restrictions, Life Hub Ni have set up a bubble to which currently no more volunteers can be added but Edmund is calling out for businesses and wholesalers who may be able to help.

©MAC Visual Media – Belfast – 29th Nov 2020 Dennis Bree from Helen’s Bay, fist bumps Edmund Aruofor of Life Hub NI, after completing his penultimate one mile swim to raise funds for the food bank charity based in Townsend Street, Belfast. Picture by Paul McCambridge/MAC Visual Media.

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

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

50 - Donegal - Silverstrand + Malinbeg Harbour 05a Wm

©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

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.

280919 - Sandycove Swim '19 08

©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!

280919 - Sandycove Swim '19 02

©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

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.