Trips reports submitted by members
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Just completed my first visit to Carlingford Lough today. Just two of us this time Eddy O'Shea and myself. Carlingford is only an hour from Dublin and offers some very challenging paddling that can rival Strangford lough or Wicklow Head or indeed surpass them in certain conditions. Today we arrived at the strange little village of Greenore. Like a long lost village trapped in the past. Mainly consists of a single line of brick built two storied terraced houses built originally for the railway workers and the cattle and passenger ferry to Liverpool. Now only the houses remain, no railway, no ferry, no pub, no shop apart from a strange looking cooperative building. We launched from a slipway into the strongly flooding tide heading for the Lighthouse at Haulbowline some 4kms distant. The tides run strongly here with an easterly F3/4 and the tide both against us we ferry glided across the narrow shipping lane heading for Green Island on the Northern side near Greencastle and then headed out to sea towards Blockhouse island near the lighthouse. After one hour of struggling in the strong tide (2.5kts at Green Island, 5.5kts at Blockhouse Island) we reached the relative shelter of Blockhouse. Here we could clearly see the famed overfalls at Haulbowline Island upon which sits the imposing lighthouse. We charged into the fray and battled the 5.5kts current and surging overfalls to the foot of the lighthouse. Back through the overfalls heading around the Eastern end of Blockhouse to rest in the eddy. One final try in the overfalls which were working at full bore being the mid point of the tide and we had enough. Exhilhirated we headed back towards Greencastle to view the still perfectly preserved 12th century castle there. If Greenore was a little strange Greencastle was worse. The Castle was closed!! On an Easter weekend!. Opens in Jun, jul and Sep -- go figure. Even less in Greencastle than Greenore. The only thing there were plenty of were no parking, no admittance, private, no recreational use and no Ferry signs. Ulster says NO! Had lunch on the beach before they put up No lunch signs and headed down the Lough with the wind and tide surfing us along towards Carlingford. Now Carlingford is worth a stop. Has a real feeling of a holiday town. Packed with Northern Irn cars and motorbikes refugeeing from Greencastle. There were dozens of kids messing about on canoes and rafts and hundreds just taking the sun and the very nice 99s of which we had two. After a break back to the grind of a three kms slog against the increasingly strong wind to not so beautiful, bleak and windswept by an easterly cold wind Greenore. Great paddle. We learned that the lighthouse is best visited on the flood in an easterly not above F3/4 to get an overfall that you can handle and yet find challenging. On the ebb and in conditions of easterly F4/5 the overfall would be too big to handle we concluded. The Greenore launch point though presenting a difficult paddle out to the lighthouse on the flood is probably the best. Do visit Carlingford and forget Greencastle unless castles are your thing and its open. Carlingford has three castles anyway. Final point watch out carefully in the shipping channel. Fast moving pilot boats guide large cargo ships. One very large container ship passed us at Blockhouse Island and its speed was awesome. If you are caught in the channel not paying attention you will be run over as the speed it is moving is very quick and the deep channel is narrow so no room to manoeuvre to avoid you.