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From Start to Finish

Starting in Toome, this 3 day / 2 night itinerary takes in the complete trail including Lough Beg. It is an ideal canoe camping trip with one night rough camping and another in an official campsite.

County
Londonderry / Antrim
Distance
31 (50kms)
Days
3
Nearest Town
Portglenone, Coleraine
Route Shape
Linear
Grade
1-3
OS Map
4, 8 & 14
Access Point
Toome 1 - GR H988905
Egress Point
Coleraine Marina 15 - GR C845337

Downloads

Points of Interest

Lough Beg National Nature Reserve, Portglenone, The Cutts, Coleraine

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 the many photo opportunities along the way.  Please check forecast and in particular wind strength and direction before departing.


Day 1 Toome (GR H988 905) to Portna (GR C845 337) 15 miles (24kms)


The floating pontoons beside the slipway at Toome provide an excellent place to load your craft for the trip ahead.  From there your can push off along a narrow canal en route to Lough Beg.  Stay to the east bank when leaving Toome to avoid the eels traps. 


Lough Beg is a beautiful National Nature Reserve, home to a gamut of birdlife.  About 5 miles (8kms) in length, the lough can be rough in strong winds, the east side offering more shelter due to the variety of small islands but it can become shallow in places.  Avoid landing on the west bank of Lough Beg especially during the over wintering bird season from October – March and the breeding season from March to June.


You will have the choice of rest stops at Newferry, however Newferry East has toilets open during the summer at weekends.


Following a short rest at Newferry, a relaxing and winding 4 mile (6kms) paddle downstream will bring you past Portglenone Forest and into Portglenone itself (GR C974 040).  The spectacular multi-arched bridge marks your arrival.  Egress is available via the slipway or jetty Portglenone Marina, or you may choose to stop at the Wild Duck Inn (+44 (0)28 2582 1232), a friendly family run pub offering traditional pub dining. It has its own jetty which can be seen on the right immediately after the bridge.  A short walk will bring a further choice of coffee shops, pubs and convenience stores.


Following your break at Portglenone continue to meander downstream until you get to Hutchinson’s Quay (GR C949 114) a further 5 ¼ mile (8.5km) paddle. Egress is possible by both jetty and slipway. 


After Hucthinson’s Quay it is important to keep to the west bank.  This will allow you to enter the canal and double lock gates therefore avoiding the Portna flood gates which are extremely dangerous.  For details on lock gates see Lower Bann Canoe Trail Practical Guide


Your rough campsite for the night at Portna (GR C937 124), is the well maintained Waterways Ireland site on the west bank where you can take some well earned rest after a long enjoyable day on the water.  If you are looking for a roof over your head then a further ½ mile will bring you to Portneal Lodge (GR C937 132) which offers reasonably priced Guest House accommodation.


Day 2 Portna (GR C845 337) to Drumaheglis Marina (GR C902 252) 10 miles (16 km)


This shorter day starts with a bit of a bang to awake the senses.  The moving water below Porta flood gates can be Grade 2 in parts.


A further ½ mile will bring you to an arched road bridge over the river.  Exercise care near the bridge due to moving water.  Egress is available at Portneal Lodge (GR C937 132) which is a half mile walk to the busy market town of Kilrea in case you want to stock up on supplies.


From Portneal Lodge continue a further 2.5 miles (4.5kms) downstream in Grade 1 moving water.  Keep to the east bank to avoid the weir on the approach to Movanagher, the canal to the lock gate is well signposted.


Continue along this, perhaps the most peaceful part of the trail.  In another mile (1.6kms) you’ll come to Carnroe Weir, again keep to the east bank well in advance to avoid the vertical weir and navigate through the locks gates.  Either Movanagher (GR C916 163) or Carnroe (GR C912 178) offer a good place to stop for a packed lunch. If you have a hankering for some pub grub then pull into the jetty at Vow (GR C915 168), a short walk through the forest and right along the road will bring you to the Angler’s Rest (+44 (0)28 2766 6466).


A further 5 miles (8kms) will bring you to your destination Drumaheglis Marina & Caravan Park (GR C902 252). Exercise caution along this part of the river as it can be busy with water skiers.  The serviced campsite is open from St Patrick’s Weekend to Halloween and it is strongly advisable to book in advance.


Day 3 Drumaheglis Marina (GR C902 252) to Coleraine Marina (GR C845 337) 7 miles (11kms)


Continue downstream through an area rich in wildlife including Otters, Kingfishers and Buzzards. Camus (GR C880 279) access point is a further 2 ¼ miles (3.6kms) downstream and you can pass either side of Loughan Island. However, then quickly move to the west bank to allow you to enter the lock gate navigation channel before ‘The Cutts’ (GR C854 302) which has an extremely dangerous flood gate and a weir.   The area below ‘The Cutts’ is Grade 2-3 moving water, popular with experienced paddlers practising their moving water skills.


Somerset Riverside Park (GR C851 304) is an excellent place to take a break following all the excitement of the past few miles. Mountsandel (GR C850 310) directly opposite Somerset Riverside Park is the site of the oldest human settlement recorded in Ireland.  Mesolithic hunter gatherers settled here an estimated 9000 years ago.  Access to Mountsandel is gained via a canoe step 1km downstream.


You are now in the tidal section of the Bann Estuary as you approach the large town of Coleraine which is bisected by the river. Your final destination - Coleraine Marina is 2 miles (3.2kms) from Somerset Riverside Park. 

Getting to the Start

Directions from Belfast 32 miles (51kms)
Take the M2 following signs for Londonderry. Continue along the M2 which will turn into the M22 then A6. Turn onto the B18 towards Toome village centre. Take the first left after the Centra and then take the next left after the bus stop.  The car park beside the lock keeper’s cottage is straight ahead of you.   


Directions from Dublin 130 miles (211 Kms)
Take to M1 Northbound to Belfast then follow directions above from Belfast.


Shuttle
The shuttle is 33 miles (66 return).  Although not the most direct route, but by far the most simple is to follow the A6 through Magherafelt and towards Maghera.  Before Maghera turn right onto the A29 and follow this road to Coleraine. Take the A29 over the bridge before turning left onto the A2 Portstewart Road.  The Marina will be a short distance on your left hand side.    


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


 

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