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From Blackwater to Lower Bann

This 2 day / 1 night itinerary along the western shore of Lough Neagh links the Blackwater & Lower Bann Canoe Trails. Camping is available in both rough and official campsites.

County
Tyrone, Londonderry
Distance
22 (35kms)
Days
2
Nearest Town
Dungannon, Magherafelt
Route Shape
Linear
Grade
Flat Water
OS Map
14 & 19
Access Point
Maghery - GR H922636
Egress Point
Toome - GR H988905

Downloads

Points of Interest

Nature Reserves, Washing Bay, Battery Harbour, Ballyronan 

Itinerary

This itinerary has been compiled using an estimated paddling speed of 2.5 miles (4 kilometres) per hour and also allowing time for lunch breaks and many photo opportunities along the way.  Please check forecast and in particular wind strength and direction before departing.


Lough Neagh can become rough and the western shore is particularly exposed in strong northerly or easterly winds.  It is recommended to bring rafting poles for this section of the journey.  


Day 1 Maghery (GR H922 636) to Battery Harbour (GR H965 771) 12 miles (19.5kms)


Launch from Maghery County Park.  Unfortunately due to anti-social behaviour in the area it is not advisable to leave your car overnight at Maghery Country Park, so either arrange to be collected here or more secure parking can be arranged at the nearby GAA club - Maghery Sean MacDermott’s . This should be arranged in advance by emailing info@maghery.com.


Following a long shuttle you may wish to spend you first night on Coney Island (GR H937 640) which is only is ¾ mile (1.2km) from Maghery Slip. 


Coney Island is beautifully maintained by the National Trust offering a well manicured rough camping site with BBQ area just beside the canoe steps. Even, if not staying the night it is well worth a visit. However Coney Island’s achilles heel is the Lough Neagh fly which, although harmless can be highly annoying during calm weather around late April / early May.  To camp on Coney Island please telephone Kinnego Marina +44 (0)28 3832 7573 or Coney Island Warden (0788 7827230) – a small fee is charged.


From Coney Island continue north west along the shore. You have two options for lunch stops, either Washing Bay (GR H901 661) or Brockagh (GR H909 690).  A short walk from the jetty at Brockagh is Brocagh Castle, home to the Castle Bay Community Centre, complete with restaurant (+44 (0)28 8773 8916)


Your first nights camping is a further 7 miles (11kms) along the shore at Battery Harbour.  However be sure to stop off en route at Ardboe Cross (GR H966  756), believed to be the oldest High Cross in Ulster.


Battery Harbour is popular with local boaters, egress is available by slipway near the marina. Rough camping is available but your can relax in the warm surroundings of the Battery Bar (+44 (0)28 8673 6367) or a Chinese meal in the Good Fortune Restaurant, open all year, 4.30 p.m. – late (closed Wednesdays) (+44 (0)28 8673 7203) 


Day 2 Battery Harbour (GR H965 771) to Toome (GR H988 905) 10 miles (16.5kms)


From Battery Harbour continue your journey northwards along the western shore.  A 6 mile (9km) paddle will bring you to Ballyronan Marina offering the perfect stop for a packed lunch, although there is the Blue Sky Chinese Restaurant (+44 (0)28 7941 8885) or three pub a short walk away in the village.  Egress is available via the slipway at the marina or simply pull up on the beach beside the play park (however this is not advised in an onshore wind). 


From Ballyronan continue along the shore for 4.5 miles (7.2kms) to your destination at Toome.  The lough can be busy along this stretch with large sand dredgers gathering raw materials for the local cement factories.


On arrival at Toome, a weir marks the start of the Lower Bann.  To avoid this, paddle down the channel on the right, which will bring you to a lock gate, operated by a lockkeeper.  Egress is available via a slipway shortly after the lock gates on the right hand side.  Please consult the Lower Bann Practical Guide for lock opening times and lock keeper’s contact details.

Getting to the Start

Directions from Belfast 34 miles (54.5kms)
Take the M1 to junction 12. At the roundabout take the third exit for B196 signposted for Maghery. When you arrive at Maghery follow brown tourist signs to Maghery Country Park.  Maghery Country Park has a height restriction barrier so you may have to remove canoes from a roof rack to pass underneath.  More secure parking is available at the GAA club which is just a short drive over the bridge.


Directions from Dublin  100 miles (161 kms)
Take to M1 northbound to Newry, then the A28 to Armagh, from Armagh take the A29 to Dungannon turning right in Moy turn onto the B106 signposted Coalisland / M1 Belfast. After 2 miles turn right following signs for the M1 Belfast. Continue to follow sign to the M1 Belfast at the next junctions until you come to the left turn B196 signposted Maghery.  When you arrive at Maghery follow brown tourist signs to Maghery Country Park.  Maghery Country Park has a height restriction barrier so you may have to remove canoes from a roof rack to pass underneath.  More secure parking is available at the GAA club which is just a short drive over the bridge.


Shuttle
The shuttle is 41miles (82 miles return).  The simplest route if not the most direct is to follow the B196 back to junction 12 and rejoin the M1 westbound.  Turn off at junction 15 following sign for Dungannon. The A29 will bring you north through Dungannon, Cookstown and Moneymore. From Moneymore take the A31 through Magherafelt. A few miles after Magherafelt take the A6 (3rd exit) to Toome. Take the B18 into Toome, turning right immediately after the bridge. Then right into the car park.


Eating Out recommendations are taken from Waterways Ireland – A Taste of the Waterways

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