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Some of the top spots are listed below but for more detail check out our sister site – your definitive guide to canoeing in Northern Ireland.

Map of Northern Ireland

Castlewellan Lake

Grid Reference: J335364

Castlewellan Lake is located in Castlewellan Forest Park.

There is slipway access from the car park on the right just after the Forest Ranger's hut. The flat water is over 40 hectares in size providing a unique perspective of the forest and Castlewellan. Life Adventure Centre are based on site providing both canoe hire and instruction.

East Coast Canoe Trail

Grid Reference: D241255

The East Coast Canoe Trail, approximately 70 nautical miles long, offers more adventure than the mainly low-lying shores and sheltered sea loughs might suggest. Negotiating choppy tide races to visit lighthouse islands and skirting hundreds of small reefs known as pladdies add spice to this journey. The starting point is at Waterfoot beach south of Cushendall and the route mirrors coastal roads most of the way to end at the turbulent narrows and the attractive village of Portaferry at the mouth of Strangford Lough. There is the choice to paddle the four sections in either direction, southwards as described here, or north.

Foyle Canoe Trail

Grid Reference: C435176

Stretching over 53km from the start of the River Foyle to the Atlantic Ocean, the Foyle Canoe Trail dips in and out of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. From Lifford, this unique trail runs through rural countryside, the historic city of Londonderry or Derry, along Lough Foyle’s varied coastline to the bustling seaside town of Moville. Paddlers will enjoy a mix of water conditions, from flat water to sea lough and - since the trail is tidal - the river section can even be paddled upstream!

Lough Erne Canoe Trail

Grid Reference: H239432

Fermanagh is an ideal destination for the canoeing enthusiast with its magnificent lakes of Upper and Lower Lough Erne providing a 50 kilometre expanse of water linking with the Shannon.

Lough Macnean Upper and Lower

Grid Reference: H023393

Lough MacNean takes in some of the most spectacular scenery Ireland has to offer. The wetland and upland habitats attract an impressive variety of wildlife and ancient archaeological features are in abundance. The three friendly villages of Belcoo, Blacklion and Glenfarne have a strong sense of community coupled with a rich cultural heritage. Visitors can discover a charming rural lifestyle that is laid back and warm with a great sense of fun.

Lough Neagh Canoe Trail

Grid Reference: H947855

Lough Neagh is the United Kingdom’s largest inland lake with a shoreline of over 90 miles/150km. Paddlers can follow the Lough Neagh Canoe Trail and explore the numerous bays and inlets around the lough or the vast expanse of open water whilst observing a diversity of wildlife and historical sites.

Lower Bann Canoe Trail

Grid Reference: H988905

Stretching from Lough Neagh to the Atlantic Ocean, this 58km Canoe Trail provides a unique way to experience the beautiful River Bann. Passing through constantly changing scenery, the trail offers canoeists both tranquil waters and some faster flowing sections.

North Coast Sea Kayak Trail

Grid Reference: C659387

This 70 nautical mile route around Ireland's north-east corner offers varieties of rugged scenery and wildlife that are unique. There is something for all kayaking abilities. Ancient castles, the Giant’s Causeway and a dramatic rope bridge are just a few of the tourist attractions. There is a good range of access points, from tiny and forgotten fishing piers to beaches of sand and cobbles and several lively harbours.

Quoile Estuary

Grid Reference: J458483

The River is generally known as the Quoile from Annacloy down through Downpatrick to the Barrage where it flows into Strangford Lough. This section of the river is completely flat.The main access point is in Downpatrick at Jane’s Shore and it is a beautiful paddle upstream to Greyabbey. The river is surrounded by woodland and arable land and has huge populations of waterfowl and swans.Just upstream of the Belfast – Downpatrick road bridge (which has some interesting canoe sized tunnels to go through) is the outfall for the sewage treatment works for Downpatrick.

Downstream from Jane’s Shore about 100m beyond the Killyleagh – Downpatrick road bridge is a barrage which marks the entrance to the Quoile Nature Reserve. At present the by-laws of the nature reserve forbid any boat traffic in this section of river. Very large congregations of waterfowl are found in this area – particularly in winter.

River Blackwater Canoe Trail

Grid Reference: H818519

The Blackwater has a very large catchment area and generally holds water levels longer than many other rivers. Above Benburb the river is very sinuous and there are a number of small weirs and rapids.

Below Benburb at Maydown Bridge marks the start of the Blackwater Canoe Trail. The Blackwater is an ideal venue providing a trail of 20km for canoeing enthusiasts of any ability. The river lazily meanders through the beautiful countryside of counties Armagh and Tyrone, flowing gently into Lough Neagh. From Lough Neagh the options are endless.

South East Coast Canoe Trail

Grid Reference: J388249

Stretching more than 50 nautical miles along the south east coast of Northern Ireland and into County Louth, this coastal trail boasts remarkably varied scenery: mountains and sea loughs, rocky coves and long sandy beaches. The South East Coast Trail offers sea kayaking for all abilities.

Strangford Lough Canoe Trail

Grid Reference: J589496

Home to the Strangford Lough Canoe Trail. This stunning sea lough offers no less than 80 square nautical miles of paddling playground! From the fast-running tidal channel in the south,to the more gentle waters around the islands there is something for canoeists of all abilities.the trail is also home to northern ireland’s first ‘bothy’which provides basic shelter and useful facilities for paddlers on Salt Island.

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