Last month I took to the road to explore Waterford’s Copper Coast, an area I only heard about early last year but one I had been very eager to explore since then. I had high hopes setting off on my trip and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I was only sorry that I didn’t have longer to explore this stunning 25km stretch of coastline from Kilfarassy Beach in the east to Stradbally in the west. The Copper Coast is seriously a photographer’s playground and I found each stop more impressive than the last, as I hopped around it’s beautiful beaches and bays.
Copper Coast – History, Geology and More
The area gets it’s name from the copper mines that operated there in the 1800s. You can still see the remains of some today, most notably in the ruins overlooking the sea at Tankardstown, near the village of Bunmahon. In 2015 the area became a UNESCO Global Geopark, reflecting the geological history of the area over a not too shabby 460 million years of evolution. To help you wrap your head around that, there is a Geological Garden in Bunmahon which will guide you through the evolutionary steps.
You’ll find a tourist information office also located near Bunmahon where you can get more info on the history, geology, architecture, walks and the flora and fauna in the area. There is plenty to fill your time, including dolmens, holy wells, ogham stones, promontory forts and the ruins of Dunhill Castle. Beware though, if you visit the Copper Coast in winter as I did, the info centre will be closed and perhaps some of the attractions too. So it would pay to do your research beforehand.
When to visit
Luckily the panoramic seascapes, rocky headlands, sea stacks, cliffs, secluded coves and bays are always open! So anytime is a good time to visit and explore really. Naturally, during the warmer months you’ll have the benefit of longer days to explore. On the other hand there will be a lot more people around and accommodation will be pricier. I love exploring at quieter times. As it was the middle of December it was really cold and quite icy in the early morning but I was very lucky with the weather really and it was mainly bright and sunny both days I was there. Apart from a couple of surfers, a handful of walkers and one other photographer I met, I had the whole place to myself, which only added to the magic.
Food & Drink
It’s always good to try and support local businesses in more remote areas but if you’re planning a trip in the off-season like me, then you may want to stock up on snacks, as I found many of the businesses closed up for winter. Still, the grocery store in Stradbally (I think a Centra) had a great little deli where you can picked up a freshly filled sandwich or roll and in the evening you could try the lovely Copper Hen restaurant above Mother McHugh’s pub in Fenor. Failing that, the Copper Coast is straddled by the two larger towns of Dungarvan to the west and Tramore to the east. So you’ll certainly find plenty in those towns to keep you going.
Best spots to photograph
I don’t think you can go wrong if you just get out and start exploring. To be honest, two days was not enough for me to soak up everything the Copper Coast has to offer and I know I missed heaps. Everywhere I did visit was just beautiful but my favourite spots along the way were Kilfarrasy Beach, Tra Na mBó and Ballydwan (or Ballydowane) Bay.
The Copper Coast is another part of Ireland that has blown me away with it’s outstanding beauty. Strangely enough, it turns out I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t heard of it though. I can’t get over the number of people I have since talked to, who didn’t know of its existence. So know that you know, you can get out there and explore. You will not be sorry.