Galway to Gurteen Bay and Sea Swim

by | Jan 24, 2022 | Outdoors, Swimming

Hi there, and a happy Monday to everyone. So it’s back to the weekly schedule after a fun weekend. Our wee springer has been ill, and keeping to a plan of regular structured activity seems to help her a lot. Thankfully, the knock-on effect is that I am now more structured with my writing.

But enough of that, as I mentioned in my previous post, I have become laser-focused on plopping myself into the Ocean whenever I get the chance. And weekends offer the perfect opportunity to explore the coastline nearby where we live in Galway city. Because I have changed focus from hiking to swimming due to Missy’s illness, it has opened up a new way of looking at my surroundings. Living so close to the Ocean for my entire life, I definitely took it for granted.

We decided this weekend to stay local in Galway County. One of our regular trips has always been to Clifden, where Alan has family. We usually take the main road out via Oughterard and Maam cross, but after exploring Google maps, I realised we had never taken the long coast road out. So Saturday was the perfect day to rectify this.

At one time or other, we have visited some of the beaches along sections of this route, in particular the ones around Spiddal and Inverin or nearby Roundstone. And, I had one in mind I wanted to swim in: Gurteen Bay. We swam there mid-September, just gone, and it was glorious, so I wanted to revisit.

Loop driveI plotted a route that would take us past Inverin and onto Costelloe. Bypassing the Carraroe peninsula, then Screebe, before going straight to Carna, where I had planned a stopover at Trá Mór. Next, Cashel, Roundstone and Clifden. Heading back to Galway via our usual direct route. A total round trip that is just over 200km.

Furbo Beach

Na Forbacha Beach, Ballynahown, Baile na hAbhann, Co. Galway

Our first stop was Furbo beach. This beach is very close to Barna and has parking directly on the main road. It’s usually packed, but, as luck would have it, there was no one there, so we took the opportunity to walk Missy and take out the Drone for a short spin.

The light lands on the colour spectrum anywhere between dark grey to bright blue at this time of year. It is like being in two different weather experiences simultaneously. If you happen to be looking to the left or the right, you may be in winter or summer. All of the photos in this blog were taken over a few hours. As you can see, it’s a bit of a nightmare trying to achieve consistency with video or any images.

Furbo Beach, Co Galway

After a short walk, we headed back to the camper and slowly wound our way around the coastline.

Furbo Beach, Co Galway

Trá Mór

Trá Mór, Ardmore, Oyster Bay, Ardmore, Co. Galway

Tra Mhor, Ardmore

Trá Mór was the next beach I pinned. I had never visited and was totally surprised when we got there. It was low tide, and the beach went on literally forever. There is actually a section of it, at low tide, where you can walk over to Feenish Island, which is now on the top of my list to do.

You can read about the island and see some images here:

https://www.tripadvisor.ie/ShowTopic-g551527-i17640-k9595770-Feenish_Island_south_Connemara-Carna_County_Galway_Western_Ireland.html

Tra Mhor, Ardmore

As we drove down to the Trá Mór, we were greeted by the friendliest collie cross I have ever met. He then proceeded to walk us around the beach whilst keeping a watchful eye on all his surroundings. I definitely got the impression that this was his haunt. And he was keen to show it to us, that is in between darting away to keep the seagulls in check, with varying degrees of success.

Tra Mhor, Ardmore
Tra Mhor, Ardmore

I could have spent the rest of the day on this beach alone, just walking along the expansive shoreline, but it didn’t look like we were going to get a swim in, so we headed back to the van.

We begin to lose light at 5pm at this time of the year, and I am not a fan of swimming in the dark.

Tra Mhor, Ardmore

Roundstone

Roundstone for tea
Roundstone for tea

Our next stop was Roundstone for tea, and some of the vegan treats we get from a local baker every Saturday. The box of goodies is so good it never lasts the weekend.

Ten minutes later, we are on our way to Gurteen Bay. I love it here, both for swimming and walking. We park up and take missy for a sprightly jaunt up the length of the sandy beach.

Gurteen Bay

Ervallagh, Roundstone, Co. Galway

Gurteen bay
Gurteen Bay
Gurteen Bay

Gurteen bay is a Tombola, and as such, there is another equally beautiful beach on the far side called Dog’s Bay. For details on what a Tombolo is, click here https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/coastal-landforms-what-is-a-tombolo.html or Google.

The Tombola is currently being eroded, and a conservation plan is in place. All of the details are on a Facebook page linked here.
https://www.facebook.com/gurteenbayanddogsbayconservation/

Gurteen bay swim

By now, it was after 4pm, and the plopping into the Ocean had to happen. So, quickly changing into swimsuits with the obligatory neoprene booties, gloves and jacket, we raced towards the water. Promising we would ‘just jump in,’ Alan got there first, screamed, and I stopped and decided on my more usual measured approach. Alan’s head popped back up from the water with a half-smile, ‘fool me once, Tina.’

In fairness, the water is cold at this time of the year. So it’s less swimming and more plopping I am at. I still love it, though, even if I can only last two and a half minutes. I’m invigorated and cannot help having a giant smile.

Gurteen Bay swim

Warm soup and bread later, we are back in clothes, cosy and looking out the back window of the camper as the sun goes down, before heading to Clifden and back to Galway.

From this short adventure, I have realised how much I have yet to see along the coastline of Galway County, and I am so looking forward to more adventures.

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