This another sort of lazy post made up almost entirely of photographs. They’re worth looking at though as they are of a place where I’ve had some of my best and most memorable swims: Lough Hyne, West Cork.
The hill of Dromadoon from Barloge Quay.
Lough Hyne is a marine lake between the town of Skibbereen and the village of Baltimore in West Cork. It’s connected to the sea by a very narrow set of rapids, known simply as the Rapids. The small size of the Rapids means that the lake has an asymmetrical tidal cycle: the tide flows in for about 4 hours 30 minutes and out for about 8 hours 30 minutes. The tidal range in the lake, at about 1 m, is also much narrower than the tidal range outside, which can be 4 m or more.
Calm waters in Barloge Creek…
The freshwater input into Lough Hyne is negligible and so it is completely marine, but the geography of the lake means that it is full of relatively warm, well-aerated saline water. This makes it ideal for many kinds of marine life, including many species found nowhere on Earth except in Lough Hyne. The lake and the area just outside it, Barloge Creek, was designated Europe’s first Marine Nature Reserve in 1981 and is now home to a research centre which is part of the school of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences (BEES) at University College Cork, where I am studying.
There is easy access to the crystal clear water at Barloge Quay…
On Friday, 13 April 2012, Steven Black and I decided to take advantage of fine weather and go for an early season swim in the area. Steve is originally from Cape Town, South Africa but is now a resident of the island of Ringarogy near Baltimore, West Cork. He is a regular swimmer at Lough Hyne…
The view across Barloge Creek from the road.
On this day, we decided to try a 3.7 km swim starting at Barloge Creek, heading over the Rapids into Lough Hyne, swimming west of Castle Island to West Quay, across to North Quay and straight back to Barloge Creek, going east of Castle Island. This might be a bit if a stretch as the water was only 10ºC or 11ºC and neither of us would be in wetsuits.
The view towards Tranabo Cove from Barloge.
It was a fine day so I brought my new waterproof camera to see of I could get any nice shots. I was hoping to get a few underwater wildlife shots as the water is crystal clear but it wasn’t to be on this particular day.
Steve Black of Cape Town, South Africa via Ringarogy dons his ACNEG in anticipation of a slightly cooler swim than his Strait of Gibraltar crossing!
Swimming towards the Rapids which connect Lough Hyne to the sea via Barloge Creek…
Swimming away from Barloge Quay towards the Rapids.
Steve swims off ahead of my while I mess around taking photographs…
Just about to go over the Rapids, the quay on the left and the Bohane Laboratory on the right.
Almost in the Rapids, looking like a good flow!
Swimming over the Rapids is great fun but you must time it right. You need to be able to work out before you go, which way they will be flowing, how fast they will be flowing and what the depth will be. It’s well worth the 2 hour drive from Fermoy to Lough Hyne just to go playing on the Rapids!
Just exiting the Rapids at Renouf’s Bay…
If you are coming into the lake with the Rapids, as we were, you need to get to the left as quickly as possible at the end as straight ahead is a large whirlpool which you can easily get caught up in if you’re not careful…
My Island in the Sun! Swimming towards Castle Island, lit up by the sunlight, in Lough Hyne.
One of the rocky reefs at the southwestern corner of Castle Island in Lough Hyne.
Lough Hyne is very deep, over 53 m in one place and there is also a 100 m-deep cave in the lake somewhere. Around Castle Island in the centre of the lake, however, there are shallow patches and some rocky reefs. Here you can see lots of soft corals, cockles, oysters, scallops, sponges, spiny starfish, beautifully-coloured anemones, sea urchins, the odd seal and much, much more.
Steve powers on towards West Quay, leaving a nice bubble trail.
A patch of sunlight illuminates some of the woodland on the western shore of Lough Hyne.
Steve from underwater again.
The lesser-used West Quay, Lough Hyne.
A typical scene on sheltered rocky shores on the South Coast of Ireland.
A closer photograph showing the variety of plants, animals and algae on this small islet on the northern shore of Lough Hyne.
The little islet again with Knockomagh Hill in the background.
West Quay, Lough Hyne as seen from the more frequently used North Quay.
The eastern shore of Lough Hyne.
Some of the houses around Lough Hyne. The main house, Lough Hyne House, is hidden behind the trees.
Looking back towards the northern shore of Lough Hyne.
Straight ahead is the way back out to the sea, though it mightn’t look like it.
Steve gets ready to dive back into Southern’s Bay having had to walk past the Rapids on the quayside.
Back into Barloge Creek and almost finished the swim!
Steve finishing the swim back at Barloge Quay.
1 hour 20 minutes later, we arrived back at Barloge Quay perished with the cold but in good condition and well able to drive home afterwards. It was 4 hours of driving for that relatively short swim but well worth the journey. Lough Hyne, Barloge Creek and all of the surrounding area is beautiful, quiet and great swimming territory. Hopefully there will be more stories to come from here…
Dromadoon as seen in a very different light to just 2 hours earlier…