There are 365 loughs in County Cavan, one for each day of the year: how to choose, then, where to swim? My advice, check out Lough Ramor: it has camping on the lakeshore, rowboats for hire and islands to swim out to and explore, all enhanced by the landowner, Tommy who will regale you with stories of the area. Pitch your tent on this private land opened up for campingand enjoy the tranquil setting looking across the lough to Virginia town.
On the approach to Virginia the view of the lake opens up and one’s heart begins to beat a little faster, it encourages a spirit of exploration. This childlike (or childish) feeling led me to agreeing to hop on the back of a tractor in only my swimsuit and be driven across the shallow sandbank towards the nearest island. Practising my surfing stance on the grass topper, which only minutes earlier had been zipping over the field in preparation for the first influx of campers due in the next few weeks, I heard Tommy, the farmer and landowner, call back, ‘I must be ready for the mad-house! Who’d have thought I’d have a mermaid on the back of ma tractor?’
The swimming here is lovely, a gently shelving lake with thirty-two islands to explore, some just a short swim from the campsite. The town of Virginia is approximately 1½ miles (2.5km) across the lough and if you want to swim the full length of the lough it is nearly 3 miles (5km) long. With no jet-skis allowed, this is an ideal place for swimmers and kayakers.
The campsite is basic and right on the water’s edge, a ‘Wild Camping’ sign on the locked gate has a contact number: phone Tommy for the access code. Tommy runs a tight ship here: he doesn’t mind who comes, whether they want to fish or boat (he also hires out rowboats) or swim, as long they leave the place as they found it. He has no tolerance for rubbish, and will photograph the evidence if any is left. The result is a splendid, pristine field: picnic tables dot the shoreline, birds skim across the surface of the water as fish leap, and three small boats lean on the gravel shore, ready for takers.