On a cold and “mizzling” Sunday, we headed off to visit a new Lough.  Lough Money is on the Ballyculter Road out of Downpatrick.  This Lough is owned by the Fisheries and is well signposted.  There is a carpark, open from 8am to 10pm and a path around the near end of the lough.

There is good access for Wheelchair users, with designated parking spaces and boardwalk areas to fish from.

The Lough is picturesque with water lilies, just beginning to bloom when we arrive.  It stretches north, approximately 1 km long and fairly narrow.

We entered at the short slipway (aptly named as it turned out,) the boys managed to slide their way into the water – not very elegantly, may I add!  I chose the marginaly safer option of stepping to the side and braving the rocks.  Here the water gradually gets to a depth for swimming and as it’s very clear, you feel quite confident wading in.  The temperature was very pleasant, as soon as I glided off into the Lough it felt beautiful, a temperature where I knew I could take my time, stop for a chat and enjoy the view!

Choosing a line down the centre of the Lough, giving the lillies, reeds and any fishermen a wide berth, (I feel it’s common courtesy to give them their space and not scare the fish, plus I have no desire to be hooked myself!)

We set off, spotting tall evergreen trees on the island that marks the halfway point on the Lough, giving the lough the look of a French scene.  As we got close to this halfway point, we swam past an old metal structure.  At first we thought it was a support for a waterski ramp, then we noticed pipework, so perhaps it was an old pump.

We checked the boys in the kayaks were feeling ok.  It was only Davids’ second time out in a boat, happy enough, we swam on to the far end of the lough.

The rain began in earnest.

It’s a lovely thing to swim in the rain, the surface of the water softened, broken by the raindrops, seeing the tiny splashes each time you turn and breathe, feeling  the cool  rain on your arms as you take each stroke.

As we struck out, on our way back down the lough, a swan moved in front of us.  Each time I lifted my head to check my course, there he was, about 10 metres ahead.  Not concerned, perhaps curious, he led us all the way back down the lake until he decided that was enough, and I heard the “wap wap wap” of his wing tips beating the surface.  I watched with awe as he half flew, half ran across the water, past me and back towards his mate.

Words by Maureen McCoy

Photography by Paul McCambridge