Words by Maureen McCoy
Photography by Paul McCambridge
Pulling into the small car park on the cliff at Kinbane I looked across to the clearest view of Rathlin Island I have ever seen. The island is approximately seven miles from Ballycastle but looks so close today. Behind the island the hazy shore of the Mull of Kintyre with calm deep blue water in between. One thinks it would be easy to swim, but this is some of the coldest water around our shores and it would take many hours.
Following the steps which snake down the cliff led to a small cove with the remains of the old castles watch tower on a rugged outcrop. Along the shore a roofless cottage with the rusting remains of a winch and then we could see the cave under the castle ruins that was to be todays swim.
Clambering over rocks and forests of kelp we used a variation of dog-paddle and crawling, pulling ourselves through the weed until it was deep enough to swim. We made our way deep into the cave and seeing a glimpse of sky, ventured on through the arch carved by sea, under the ruins to emerge on the sea-ward side of the island. Here the draw of the waves was powerful and sea birds above whistled and called. As we returned we were pushed forward on each wave then suspended, waiting for the next rush, as if on a swing we were drawn back and forth by the sea.
Cave at Kinbane
An advanced swim due to the strength of tides here, a good knowledge of the tides and currents essential.
Beautiful spot to picnic and explore
Car park with toilets.
Long climb down steps to get to the cove.