Wild Swimming in Ireland

I was in Ireland this weekend for a wedding in my girlfriend’s family (which was great by the way and it was lovely to meet all of the family), so I took the chance to do a bit of wild swimming.

I’m not normally a wild swimmer – my outdoor swimming is generally controlled in either events or round a training lake – but I had been inspired by this post about Petticoat Lucy’s lake by LoneSwimmer, so I gave it a go.

The story is that the lake is haunted by Petticoat Lucy and that she will grab the ankles of swimmers and pull them down to their death. You can probably tell by the fact that I am writing this that that didn’t happen! (More details of the legend of Petticoat Lucy can be found here).

In reality the lake is a small, peaty lake nestled in the Knockmealdown mountains. You park up near the road and walk down about half a mile to the lake. The footpath then continues around the edge of the lake, but there is a small “beach” area that I quickly got changed in. The water starts very shallow and the bottom is covered in rocks – many of which are quite sharp or jagged. So it took me a few minutes of very ungraceful walking before my feet hit the soft, squelchy ground and the water was deep enough to start swimming.

Although I didn’t believe the legend of Petticoat Lucy that first bit of swimming was certainly a bit quicker and more breathless than normal, but once I’d settled down it was lovely. The temperature was a balmy 18 degrees at a guess, and while the water was certainly very brown – with about one and half arms’ length visibility – it felt very clean.

I swam up the length of the lake while my girlfriend walked along the path that gently rises above the lake. So we had a chat with her standing about 15 feet above me once I’d reached the end. I then swam in the far corner and back to the start again along the other side of the lake. But don’t be fooled as that was only about 500m of swimming.

My exit was equally as ungraceful, which was disappointing as I’d attracted a couple of families who wanted to check I wasn’t completely mad I think.

A quick public change and then we went to visit more family for a cup of tea and some biscuits – lovely!

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