Dalkey and beyond

Day 5 – Forty Foot to Coliemore Harbour

The next leg has two possible finish points, Coliemore Harbour or on to Vico. It was a crappy enough day, the wind was from the north. I’m a skinny bloke so I feel the cold. While we are swimming in wetsuits, my feet and fingers had turned white and were cold the previous day. The water temperature was still about 11c and there was to be no solar benefits on this day. I tried an experiment – my fellow sea swimmers would not be impressed – using gloves and booties. It didn’t really work to be honest and slowed us down, the gloves basically filled with water and made the stroke tougher, the booties I don’t think were too bad however, but it was a once off only.

Anyone who knows anything about swimming knows you don’t go for a leisure swim in Dalkey Sound – the currents there are usually described as crazy. We went at the slackest time tides wise possible. We followed the line of lobster pots past the lovely Bulloch Harbour south and the plan was to pull into Coliemore Harbour and make a decision from there whether to carry on. Along the way we stopped periodically. A guillemot flew within a couple of feet as we surveyed some of the nice houses along the coastline. We got into Coliemore making sure not to miss the entrance as the flow was pretty strong (editor’s note: extremely strong!!!) and you could overshoot it. The place was a hive of activity with kids pier jumping and locals swimming safely within the confines of the harbour walls. We decided to call a halt, and besides, it’s a beautiful spot to have to return to.

Day 6 – Coliemore to Killiney

Coliemore again, this time it’s a quieter Thursday evening. A young fella was being tormented by his mates to do a jump which involved jumping from a roof, over the path beside the pier and into the water below. He really wanted to do it, but for obvious reasons was nervous. Eventually just before we were ready to leave, he achieved his little moment of personal history. We had a quick word with the fishermen at the end of the pier, telling them not to expect us back – i.e. please don’t phone the Coastguard. So onward ho. It’s a place much used by snorkellers and I saw a shoal of small fish but no more after that. On we went down, being pushed by the tide, as well as swimming nicely. Again, more folks on the rocks further south fishing for mackerel, so we just had to make sure they saw us and we didn’t get a smack in the head from a lead weight, as I said previously, twud be an ignominious way to go. In no time we were out of the sound and into the bay. The tides and currents are odd here and kind of swirl around so you have to swim hard to make progress. I saw a jellyfish or two and one got to know Ceall well – a little sting on the forehead as a memento of the day’s swim. We decided to swim on past Vico, we are getting a bit fitter and were swimming hard to make progress. We swam on a little past Whiterock – so that we could start next day on Killiney beach which was easier for the logistics. We then doubled back into Whiterock – over the rocks / reef. There we met a couple of Dublin Swimming Club members shivering after a swim. Indeed, we had met someone we know on each leg so far and would do so again the next day, Elena and Michael were chattering and shivering after a swim down to Killiney and back – sans wetsuit – (perish the thought). I’ve grown to enjoy swimming in my suit I have to say and avoiding the shivers that often accompany me after my swims in Ireland. I’m almost famous for it. I’ve probably done close to 200 races in my skins over the last 15 years and swam countless other times but the cold still affects me on some swims, especially if the air and sea temperatures aren’t that high.

Day 7 – Killiney to Shankill

So for the logistics today, we left the car near the beach in Shankill. I’ve never swum at Shankill Beach before, it’s a narrower and rockier version of Killiney I guess. If you google it there is a picture of an unfortunate dead whale which came ashore there in 2016. We got the dart back to Killiney – no one batted an eyelid at two middle aged men in rubber climbing aboard, we alighted in Killiney, a quick word with the lifeguard en route and up over the rocks to the far end of the beach.

The water was nice and clear. It was a straightforward swim and the tide was high enough that we were well clear of the rocks at the south end as we swam over them. No matter how often I go to Killiney you can’t but admire the beauty of the place – as many of us have said during lockdown/Covid, we are lucky to be living in this part of the world. The water got a bit iffy as we got closer to the waste water treatment plant, but there were no ill effects after.

Bray is now ahead in full view, my original destination but sure, maybe we might go on a bit more… My wife doesn’t get the whole swim thing, the kids are ambivalent, but the couple of others I’ve said it to think the whole thing is a great idea.

If you would like to take a closer look at this wonderful section of coastline, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsHPec8_jZo – drone footage and em…relaxation music.

For information on An Taisce Clean Coasts see https://cleancoasts.org/ and for Temple St children’s hospital https://www.cuh.ie/ .

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