Let go and jump in!

Lakes

Bellanaleck

Bellanaleck 1

OS Map: Sheet 27

Grid ref: H243383

Type of swim: freshwater lough

Description

The Mill Lough in Bellanaleck is a small lough lying between Upper and Lower Lough Erne. Here you will not be troubled by speedboats, which can be a nuisance in the larger loughs.

Do not be tempted to jump in from the jetty; the water is not deep enough. Also, the jetty has no steps. You will need, therefore, to enter and leave the water via the slipway beside the jetty. But take care; the slipway is well-named!

Getting there

Take the A509, south, from Enniskillen. Drive through Bellanaleck. Follow the sign, left, for Mill Lough (half a mile) and turn left, again, to the car park and jetty.

Try to park in line with the jetty. Your car will then be visible from the water and will give you something to aim for when swimming back to shore.

Camlough Lake

Camlough Lake 3

OS Map: Sheet 29

Grid ref: J028258

Type of swim: freshwater lough

Description

Camlough Lake is a ‘ribbon’ lake that nestles between Camlough Mountain and Slieve Gullion.

The Lake has a special place in the history of open water swimming, not just in Northern Ireland but in the world. It was here in September 2009 that the Guinness World Record Relay Swim was held. Two hundred and twelve swimmers swam a total of 684.75km between them in just under 233 hours.

The Lake continues to be popular with open water swimmers and is the scene of many organised swimming events and triathlons.

Helpfully, there is a notice board at the car park with a map showing the routes for swims of varying distances.

But Camlough Lake is not just a place for aquatic athletes, it is also a rewarding destination for the more leisurely swimmer looking to swim in a majestic location.

Photo courtesy of Camlough Lake Water Festival

Getting there

The car park is about one kilometre south-west of Camlough Village. Drive westwards, out of the Village, on the A25. Take the B30, left, signposted Silverbridge. The road swings to the right, at the start of a stone wall. Park on the left, just before the start of the wall.

Clea Lakes

Clea big 1

OS Map: Sheet 21

Grid ref: J502550

Type of swim: freshwater lough

Description

Are you looking for adventure? Then Clea Lakes is the place for you!

Clea Lakes, also known as Clea Lough, are a mystery. Are they a family of lakes, clustered together, or a single large sprawling confusingly-shaped lake? Nobody seems to be sure. Perhaps it all depends on the water level. Jump in and decide for yourself!

Getting there

From Killyleagh take the Shrigley Road north-westwards. It will become the Clea Lough Road. Continue until you see the lough on your right.

Parking is a little tricky here. The road, as it passes the lough, is straight and shallowly-scalloped into not-quite laybys. My advice to you and your companions is to arrive together in a single small (preferably narrow) car and park in one of these. You will then be able to get out of the car and hop over the wall straight into the lough without trespassing on private land.

Access is also possible via a farm lane from Clay Road to the north. I don't, however, recommend this: the farmer may not approve; and the lough shore is rather littered here, the work (presumably) of untidy anglers.

Downhill Lake

Photo0097

OS Map: Sheet 4

Grid ref: C757353

Type of swim: freshwater lough

Description

The quiet wooded seclusion of Downhill Forest serves as a pleasant counterpoint to the pounding waves of Downhill Beach. The long narrow lake offers about 300m of peaceful swimming, surrounded by trees.

Getting there

Ascending from Downhill - a curious phrase, I know! - along the Seacoast Road, turn right onto the Burrenmore Road. Park where the road makes a ninety degree right turn across the river, go through the gate and follow the path. About 200m past the gate, instead of veering left with the path, continue straight ahead to the lake.

Ely Lodge

Ely

OS Map: Sheet 17

Grid ref: H180515

Type of swim: freshwater lough

Description

Ely Lodge is a quiet part of Lower Lough Erne, where you are unlikely to be troubled too much by speed boats. The island of Inish Lougher lies about 300m offshore and is an attractive destination to swim to. After your swim why not warm up by going for a walk through Ely Lodge Forest?

Getting there

Ely Lodge lies just off the A46, about eight kilometres north-west of Enniskillen, and is sign-posted. Park in the lay by or follow the short forest road and park at the lough shore.

Trory Jetty to Devenish Island

Devenish Island

OS Map: Sheet 17

Grid ref: H226479

Type of swim: freshwater lough

Description

The monastic settlement on Devenish Island, dating from the sixth century, was founded by Saint Molaise. The round tower on the Island makes an excellent target to aim for when swimming from Trory Jetty. The round trip, which is about 2km, should only be attempted, however, when boat traffic is light. Early morning may be the safest time. At other times it is safer, and just as pleasant, to swim close and parallel to the shore.

Getting there

On the A32, north of Enniskillen, there is a sign, pointing westwards, that reads, ‘Lough Erne Devenish Island Ferry.’ The turn off is just north of a petrol station and just south of a roundabout that offers you the tantalising option of visiting Ballinamallard. Follow the sign for the ferry. The lane will take you up a hill and down the other side. At the bottom of the hill turn left and park at the jetty.

Lough Money

Image1325

OS Map: Sheet 21

Grid ref: J533452

Type of swim: freshwater lough

Description

Lough Money is a 1km long lough a few miles east of Downpatrick. The water here tends to be amongst the clearest found in any lough.

The lough is popular with anglers. When there are a lot of anglers about it may be best to restrict your swimming to the less-fished northern end. There is a path along the western shore extending the full length of the lough.

Getting there

From Downpatrick take the Ballyhornan Road. After going through Ballyalton turn left along Ballyculter Road, signposted Lough Money. There is a car park.