Nuala Moore, an adventurer from Dingle, Ireland, provided historical information on the challenge of the North Channel, a 35K stretch of water between Northern Ireland and Scotland.
In history, the first successful crossing was in 1947…and few others followed.
There were quite a number of unsuccessful attempts in both directions. Nuala explains, “…it is a body of water that requires the utmost of respect. Above both Scotland and Ireland, there are thousands of miles of sea, all raging and wanting to run south and north. When this water tries to squeeze between the two countries, the limited space forces the water to act very erratically. As the water runs through islands and in and out of headlands and bays, it goes every direction. Therefore, to a swimmer, there is no definite system of movement. The air temperature in the summer in the north is often 12-18°C – so this would be a negative on the skin as well.”
“The tides running through Rathlin Island work on nine hours and not the usual six. The erratic nature of these flows is why this stretch of water is the most respected. Add to this the fact that the water temperature is only 12-13°C (upper 50°Fs) and jellyfish are a huge variable. Stings are definite.”
Alison Streeter and Kevin Murphy both have three successful crossings. Kevin has two Ireland-to-Scotland crossing and one Scotland-to-Ireland crossing while Alison has one Ireland-to-Scotland and two Scotland-to-Ireland crossings. Others who have crossed this treacherous channel include:
Ireland to Scotland
1. Tom Blower, 28 July 1947, 15 hours 26 minutes
2. Kevin Murphy, 11 September 1970, 11 hours 21 minutes
3. Kevin Murphy, 29 August 1971, 14 hours 27 minutes
4. Ted Keenan, 11 August 1973, 18 hours 27 minutes
5. Alison Streeter, 22 August 1988, 9 hours 54 minutes
6. Margaret (Maggie) Kidd, 23 August 1988, 15 hours 26 minutes
7. Colleen Blair, 12 September 2008, 15 hours 23 minutes
8. Anne Marie Ward, 1-2 September 2010, 18 hours 59 minutes (water temperatuer 12-13.4°C)
9. Craig Lenning, 27 July 2011, 14 hours 44 minutes.
10. Howard Keech, 2 August 2011, 14 hours 47 minutes.
Not only is it difficult to cross the North Channel, but it also requires a long road to success: Prior to Anne Marie‘s first success (whose course is charted above), she tried three separate times to make it across:
September 11th 2008 – 17.5 hours swimming and the tide drove nine miles north, the advantage of the new tide wasn’t strong enough to give Anne Marie any benefit so she was taken from the water. It was unlikely that she would have made it.
August 2009 – 2.5 hours from Irish coast, the weather took a really bad turn and Anne Marie was rescued from the water. The weather had blown her off-course, north of the Copeland Islands.
August 2010- 5 hours swimming through jellyfish in the darkness. There was no let up – her joints and hands froze from the toxins and she asked to be taken out when she was hospitalized. Four weeks later, she was successful.
Scotland to Ireland –
1. Alison Streeter, 25 August 1989, 10 hours 4 minutes
2. Alison Streeter, 18 August 1997, 10 hours 2 minutes
3. Kevin Murphy, 7 September 1989, 17 hours 17 minutes
4. Paul Lewis, 27 July 1999, 14 hours 28 minutes
5. Stephen Price, 21 July 2000, 16 hours 56 minutes
6. Colm O Neill, 31 July 2004, 11 hours 25 minutes
7. Stephen Redmond, 31 August 2010, 17 hours 17 minutes
Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source