November Wild Swim – Ballyhornan Sunrise
My wild swim challenge takes my breath away on Ballyhornan Beach
As part of my Microadventure Challenge to Wild Swim every month for a year, I went for a dip on Ballyhornan Beach this November. There was a problem though, I was away on an overnight with my Scout Group. We had quite a tight schedule. I was in Ballyhornan from 8pm on Friday night to 1pm the following Saturday. And those 17 hours were action packed! Staying at the Ballyhornan Scout Centre, we first had to make our dinner in the pizza oven (Check out my awesome pizza sauce and see how we managed), then we had our Investiture Ceremony with a campfire on the beach. The next day was jam-packed with activities too and we had to pack and tidy up the centre before the bus arrived.
There was only one thing for it. I’d have to get up early and squeeze this swim in. At times like this when I have a set time I need to be done, I like to work backwards to figure out what time I need to get up. Breakfast was at 9am; I figured I definitely would need a shower to warm up after my swim, so I’d want to be out of the water and back to the site by 8:40am; I counted on 40-60 minutes swim time so in the sea by 7:40ish and; 15 minutes to get up, dressed and down to the beach. Settled, the alarm would go off at 7:30.
After the late night, that 7:30 am alarm hit hard. I was excited though, nervous even. Not unlike waking up on Christmas! Maybe that’s going a bit far, I was kind of scared to be swimming, predawn, on a frosty morning! I squeezed into my trusty wetsuit which has been with me for each of my microadventure swims. I walked to the beach about 200m from Ballyhornan Scout Centre.The beach is probably the centre’s best resource.
Ballyhornan Beach faces out into the Irish Sea in an east-facing direction. As I walked out the gates, I could see daylight beginning to grow to the east over a beautifully calm sea. The imposing uninhabited Guns Island lies about 300m off shore, depending on the tides. I walked down the path to the beach and slipped my boots off and left them on the sand with my towel stuck inside. My toes dug into the cold damp sand, why have I still not got wetsuit boots! I stepped in.
Thankfully, the water was deeper than last time and after about 10m of wading I could actually swim. I grew accustomed to the temperature quickly and gradually gained in confidence as daylight continued to build. As a selection of seabirds flew overhead I swam parallel to the beach, mimicking a bundled up dogwalker!
I had borrowed a waterproof camera for this swim so I was playing about with it (at first I kept accidentally taking videos). As the sun rose, I wanted to be sure I captured the moment. I tried a few photos but discovered that I have a really ugly tired, cold face. A back of the head shot would have to suffice!
About 200m to the south-east was a big white buoy, probably about three-quarters of the way to Guns Island. I decided that would be my target. Sunrise broke in the most spectacular way. Light bouncing off the gentle lapping waters, the contrails that I hadn’t yet noticed, lighting up in wonderful golds.
I made it to the buoy and accidentally videoed it… It was a cool video at least!
The Buoy I had targeted off the coast of Guns Island
I hadn’t expected to experience anything spiritual but it really was hard not to appreciate the beauty I was quite literally immersed in. The perfect sunrise, the cool clean Irish Sea, the only sounds those of the birds overhead. Swimming in November, who could have guessed it would have been such a joyous, enlightening experience. Ballyhornan Beach has definitely been my favourite swim so far.
A view of Ballyhornan Village from the Irish Sea.
So my Ballyhornan Beach sunrise swim is, so far, the one to beat. I couldn’t resist one last look back before I rushed off to cook the Scouts breakfast.
I wonder where my Wild Swimming Microadventure Challenge will take me for a Christmas-themed December swim!