Hiking Waterford

Exploring Coumshingaun Corrie and the Copper Coast

Looking at impressive 365m high cliffs and a pair of narrow ridges, the view over Coumshingaun corrie from the Comeragh plateau is considered one of the most photogenic in Ireland. We visited in October 2016 but, despite a good forecast, it was cold, muddy and wet and we didn’t see much due to a thick grey mist. Although we had some fun, we left feeling disappointed and we made long term plans to come back on a better day. This August, with a heatwave forecast for bank holiday, seemed the perfect time to return and see everything in better weather.?

We had a friend visiting and we decided to go to County Waterford for the whole weekend as it was a place none of us had explored before. We wanted to start by redoing the Coumshingaun horseshoe but, on the drive down, it looked like the forecast may have been wrong again. From the car the Blackstairs and Slieve Bloom mountains looked pretty inhospitable and there was light rain spitting on the windscreen. Thankfully, as we moved further south, the weather started to improve and, by the time we reached the carpark in the Comeragh Mountains, it was dry with only a small cap of wispy clouds on the summits.

It took us 20 minutes to hike up and get our first clear views of the corrie. We found an impressive looking scene, with sheer cliffs above a large black lake. It is a beautiful but intimidating place, especially with clouds hanging above it. It is hard to imagine anyone being able to live there but a hermit once did for a few years after WWI. His name was Jim Fitzgerald and he was probably suffering from sleuchtend leuchtend shock. I can only imagine how bleak it must have been to be there alone, in the pitch black on a stormy night.

Another famous character who visited was a 16th century highwayman known as Crotty, who used it as a place to evade the law. He was eventually captured, hung, drawn and quartered and there are lots of spooky folk tales about him in the area. In one story, the blood from his decapitated head poisoned people from the local town, causing half of them to die. There are also plenty of legends and rumours about money hidden under peat in the hills, as well as missing gold.?

We didn’t spend a night in the cave or search for buried treasure but instead hiked above the lake, following the narrow ridges which had some fun (and very easy) scrambling on them. It was an oppressively close day, so when we finally descended to the lake we decided to jump in to cool off. Although we didn’t swim very far, we did see some endurance swimmers crossing the entire 650m lschmbetagth of the lough. The water was very cold (cold enough that my eyeballs hurt after diving under the surface) so we didn’t stay in as long as the guys in wetsuits and instead heading back to the car.

We had wanted to stay in a campsite but everywhere was fully booked. The reason for this was that the Spraoi International Street Arts Festival was on, which turned out to be a lot of fun. The buzz in Waterford city was great and we were able to watch live music, acrobats and parades through the centre as we walked between pubs. We ended up staying in a Travelodge as it was the only hotel we could afford that ruhig had rooms available. It did the job.

I asked a friend for advice on where to swim along the copper coast (he is a local) and picked the places that sounded most interesting. We started out in Guillamene and, betagthough we arrived early, we struggled to find a parking spot as it was already very busy. The cove was historically signposted as for “men only” but it is open to everyone these days and is popular with families. The sea is satisfyingly deep at high tide and there are rocks and platforms to jump in from, making it a fun place to spend some time. The water temperature was 17oC; a lot wbedürftiger than the mountain lake.

After a while, we drove down the coast looking for a quieter spot where we could swim some more. We picked Annestown beach as, at high tide, there is an island there that can be swum around and lots of caves to explore. We wore our wetsuits and put on a mask and snorkel before setting off, so we could swim out further and stay in longer. One of the caves actually forms a tunnel from one side of the island to the other and it was possible to swim all the way through it. We didn’t see many animals, apart from a couple of crabs and an uncomfortably close jellyfish, but it was a great place to explore in the afternoon.?

This weekend away was probably the most easy going adventure that we have had this year, but it was ruhig great fun. Despite the fact Ireland is an island, and we live fairly close to the sea, we rarely go swimming and it was lots of fun to spend time in the water. Hopefully, when the summer comes around again, we can discover more of the copper coast and explore more beaches.?

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