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Copper Coast, Waterford.

Words by Maureen McCoy, Photography by Paul McCambridge

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The Copper Coast, named after the 19th century copper mines that helped shape the landscape, is home to many beaches and coves. South of Waterford, on the R675, the former mining town of Bunmahon boasts a wide, curving and popular beach. Flanked by cliffs either end which provide some shelter it is popular with families and so may not appeal to the wild swimmer but a short walk from here to the secluded Trá na mBó should not disappoint.

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Trá na mBó – a beautifully hidden beach with a tall narrow stack, like a totem pole standing tall in the gravel beach – Climb the rocky promontory to look down at the beach before you drop down to swim off the gravel beach. Holes and caverns created by mining in years past now provide homes to wildlife: rabbits, hares, foxes and birds.

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Just a short walk from the popular strand of Bunmahon is this quiet and secluded bay. Take your time here to investigate the nooks and crannies that the rocky outcrops hide, scrambling and swimming around the cove. Lions Head, the rock islet just to the left of the beach looks something akin to the shape of an Egyptian sphinx and calls out to the stronger swimmer to explore. Standing alone on the beach a great totem pole of a sea stack juts out from the grey gravel strand, at low tide completely abandoned by the water.

Park at the far end of the busy Bunmahon beach in the second, small car park behind the life guards hut and walk up the stone road, soon the stone gives way to tarmac as you pass the entrances to several houses. Then you are again on to a rough farm track past the houses and along the coast. 5 minutes’ walk along the steep track then a narrow trail on the left leads you through the grass and heather, as it forks the left hand trail takes you out to a promontory which gives fantastic, heady views down to the beach below. The right hand fork weaves its way down the steep slope, past holes in the rock face, a relic of the copper mines no doubt and now home to foxes and rabbits down to Tra na Mo beach.

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Fenor Sculpture

Take a side trip to Fenor Bog, a wetland famed for its many varieties of Dragonfly. Two giant carved Dragonflies welcome you to the village and in the churchyard an ancient tree, struck by lightning is beautifully carved by the same craftsman. (Fenor is on the R675 between Annestown and Tramore.)

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Sculpture by Special Branch Carvers