Blown away: Waterford from a hot-air balloon
Our Going Coastal series continues with a trip across Co Waterford (and beyond)
The retrievers do their job. We’re back in Waterford in time for breakfast.
Waterford coast: A varied stretch
The Waterford coastline is quite varied, with dozens of beaches situated on a volcanic stretch of coast, particularly condensed around the area known as the Copper Coast, which extends for about 25km west of Tramore. This area is named because of its former mining industry, and has been awarded Unesco status as a place of significant geographical status.
The mid-Waterford coast, which has an area of high coast and sea cliffs, runs from Newtown Cove to the east, to Ballyvoyle to the west, and is marked as an area of special protection because of the birds found there, including herring gulls.
Some of the main beaches on the Waterford coast include the five-kilometre Tramore strand, which contains great walking routes such as the Cliff Road and Doneraile walks. A bustling seaside resort with funfair attractions has been built around the strand.
For a more traditional offering, Dunmore East (below), with its thatched cottages and fishing-village feel, should also appeal.
Attractions and activities: Surf, sand, sea and swimming
With prevailing southwesterly winds, Tramore (below) is good for water sports such as surfing. There are four surf schools on the beach, and public toilets and showers at the promenade area.
For swimming, the nearby Guillamene is Waterford’s equivalent to Dublin’s Forty Foot. Other swimming areas worth visiting include Stradbally Cove, which is ideal for small children, and Benvoy, at the foot of the Copper Coast cliffs between Tramore and Bunmahon.
In terms of hidden gems, Trá na Mo is accessible via a cliff walk, after parking at Bunmahon beach town entrance. Walk up the hill to the right and the secluded beach is below you. The area around Ardmore, a lovely seaside town, contains some nice beaches, such as Goat Island, Ballyquin, the Curragh, and Whiting Bay.
Another major attraction is the Copper Coast Geopark, an outdoor museum of geological records. There’s also a self-guided Copper Coast trail, with walking cards available from the Geopark Centre.
Then there’s the Fenor Road Bowling Social Club. Members head out on the coast road from Fenor village every Sunday from 11.30am to 1.30pm. Newcomers are welcome.
Newer activities in the region include stand-up paddle-boarding in Tramore, as well as kite-surfing.
The Anne Valley nature walk in Dunhill – a scenic 2.2km path worth making a detour for – opened earlier this summer.
For eating spots, try the Copper Hen in Fenor, opened in 2010 by chef Eugene Long and his wife, Sinéad Frisby, which specialises in locally sourced produce.
The Tannery on the quayside in Dungarvan is another award-winning spot, and accommodation is also available in a lovely townhouse nearby. The owners run regular cookery courses with chef Paul Flynn.
One of the most scenic spots along the coast is The Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, which has a Michelin star restaurant and is adjacent to some of the best coastal walks in the country.