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Practical Guide

Practical Guide – Lough Neagh Canoe Trail

Introduction

This practical guide has been designed by local experts to help you make the most of your next trip on the Lough Neagh Canoe Trail. This 90 mile (150km) trail offers a wealth of options on Britain and Ireland’s largest inland water.

Planning a Trip

Suitable For:

Don’t let the fact that this is an inland water fool you! In windy weather Lough Neagh can create ocean-like conditions with few islands or bays for shelter, therefore the expertise required relies solely on the weather. Calm days are perfect for those on their first canoe trip but rough days are for experts only.

Best for:

Linking two Blackwater Canoe Trail and Lower Bann Canoe Trail

The western shore of the Lough Neagh Canoe Trail offers the perfect link between the Blackwater Canoe Trail and the Lower Bann Canoe Trail, which, if paddled in their entirety offer a trip of no less than 70miles (115kms).

When the Lough Neagh Canoe Trail was developed it was never envisaged that anybody would paddle the circumfrance of the lough and to our knowledge nobody has. However the various access points dotted along the shore offer plenty of opportunity for day trips.

Direction of Flow:

Flow is not an issue on the Lough Neagh. As mentioned earlier, the waves generated in rough weather are more of a concern.

Itineraries

The CanoeNI team has combined their knowledge with that of some local experts to design a variety of canoeing itineraries to allow you to make the most of your next short break or day trip to the Lough Neagh Canoe Trail. These are our favourite itineraries, however the beuty of this 90km trail is that they can be mixed and matched to create an almost infinite number of itineraries.

Useful Info

Outdoor Recreation NI +44 (0)28 9030 3930 info@canoeni.com

Antrim Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 9442 8331

Lisburn Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 9266 0038

Craigavon Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 3832 2205

Dungannon Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 8772 8600

Cookstown Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 8676 9949

Magherafelt Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 7963 1510

Police Non Emergency: 101

Currency: Lough Neagh is in Northern Ireland. Pounds Sterling (GBP) are accepted everywhere in Northern Ireland.

Safety

General Safety

Canoeing is an adventure sport and as such should be treated with respect. If you are new to the sport, it is advisable to join an organized club or take some lessons with a canoeing provider, both options will offer expert coaching.

When participating in canoe sport note should be taken of the following safety advice:

  1. Do not canoe without adequate buoyancy in the form of a personal life jacket or buoyancy aid. Canoe buoyancy should be sufficient to keep the canoe afloat if you capsize
  2. It is recommended not to canoe alone – three boats is the minimum required for most rescues
  3. Remember – a canoe may be difficult to see from a larger craft – carry a whistle
  4. You do not need to be able to swim vast distances but you will need the water confidence to deal with a capsized boat and get ashore safely
  5. Carry and know how to use a map and compass
  6. Wear adequate clothing, prolonged immersion in cold water leads to hypothermia – hypothermia can kill.
  7. Leave details of your journey with a responsible adult

Lower Neagh Specific

  1. Be aware of the limitations and needs of larger craft that are restricted to deep water channels.
  2. Be aware that sand barges operate in Lough Neagh, especially near sand quays.
  3. Be aware that sea planes may operates on the lough.
  4. Lough Neagh can become rough in strong winds – carrying rafting poles is a sensible precaution.

Emergency Telephone Numbers

In the unlikely event of an Emergency use the following numbers:

Police and Ambulance

999 (all phones) or 112 (all phones)

Coast Guard

999 (all phones) or VHF channel 16

Note that mobile phone reception is unreliable in many areas.

Earning a welcome

Have respect for locals:

  • Be friendly and polite to local residents.
  • Drive slowly with care and consideration and park sensibly without causing obstruction.
  • Be as quiet as possible.
  • Get changed discreetly out of public view.
  • Get permission before going on to private property.
  • Avoid wildlife disturbance and environmental damage - only go ashore at recognised landing places.
  • Be considerate to other water users.
  • Follow the Leave No Trace Principles.

Have respect for anglers:

  • Keep well clear of anglers fishing from banks and boats.
  • Keep clear of shallow gravel areas of rivers where salmon and trout may spawn - especially during November, December and January.

 

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