Loughareema – The Vanishing Lake of Northern Ireland

When things mysteriously vanish in real life, sadly, there is always a scientific explanation behind it. And that includes Loughareema, the Vanishing Lake located on the coast road, a few miles from the town of Ballycastle, Ireland.

Irish lakes have always been the stuff legends are made of, and Loughareema is no different. At times, you could be driving down the entire stretch of the adjacent Loughareema road, go right to the middle of where the lake is supposed to be, and still not spot it. That’s because it conveniently vanishes from time to time. The trick to catching a good view of the Vanishing Lake is to be there at just the right moment. The lake actually drains itself out to such a degree that passersby wouldn’t even be able to tell that there was ever a lake in that very same spot. The secret behind Loughareema’s vanishing act is the fact that it sits on a leaky chalk-bed, a topographical feature called the ‘chalk ‘plug hole’. The hole sometimes gets jammed with peat, causing the depression to fill with water, which is when the lake is visible to all. When the plug clears, all the water in the lake drains underground at a rapid rate, so no one could ever know about its existence if they hadn’t seen it before.

Photo: Robert Macaskill

It is interesting to see pictures of Loughareema in its full and drained states. It’s quite impossible to tell that you’re looking at the very same place, if not for the landscape around. It’s not surprising then, that the phenomenon even fooled engineers, who built a road right through where the lake is supposed to be. The road to Ballycastle runs right through the lake, and at one point it used to be extremely dangerous to cross, flooded for weeks on end. A modern road has now been rebuilt in the same place, but at an elevation as high as maximum water level, to avoid flooding. A stone wall has also been erected on either side of the road. Local history states that in 1898, Colonel John Magee McNeille, rushing to catch a train from Ballycastle had misjudged the depth of the lake’s waters. He persuaded his coachman to drive the wagon pulled by two horses through the lake, but when they reached the middle, the cold water touched the horses’ bellies and made them nervous. The coachman used his whip, which caused the horse to rear up on its back legs and turn to the side. Soon, everyone lost balance and the colonel, his coachmen, and two horses drowned to death. Local legend warns visitors that on nights when the lake is full, a phantom coach and its passengers haunt the lake shores to this very day.

Photo: flower76young 

Photo: Robert Macaskill 

Photo: Ian Cunningham

Source: Amusing Planet


   

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