Legend has it that Lough Neagh was created when Finn McColl, the fabled Irish giant, scooped out a pile of land and threw it at a Scottish rival who was trying to escape via the Giants Causeway. He missed and the land ended up in the Irish Sea and is now known as the Isle of Man.
Kayaking on the loch has a long heritage with an established canoe trail regularly paddled. You can get hold of a PDF document describing in detail what you’ll find by following this link.
For those thinking of putting in along the banks of the lake then you’ll have a whole plethora of destinations to head for. Don’t be fooled though, the sheer vastness of Lough Neagh can lend itself to open ocean style paddling conditions when harsh weather moves in. It’s possible to get waves forming when gales howl – perfect for advanced paddlers, while not so for lesser skilled kayakers.
The Lough Neagh Canoe Trail was developed with circumnavigating the lake in mind; however, as yet there haven’t been any reports of anyone doing so. That’s not to say that it hasn’t happened, it just hasn’t been reported.
With plenty of options for dropping in with your boat and loads of little nooks, crannies and inlets to investigate – even if you don’t fancy a mammoth marathon paddle, shorter routes are more than applicable.
As long as the weather is playing ball then there’s no reason why beginner and intermediate paddlers can’t take on some of the routes found on Lough Neagh
How to get there:
Lough Neagh is slap bang in the centre of Northern Ireland and is the largest inland stretch of water in the UK – you can’t miss it!
For visitors outside of Northern Ireland, ferries are regular, as are flights in and out of Belfast. Dublin, just over the border, is also an option. Then it’s just a case of navigating to your chosen put in point on the loch.
Plenty of facilities are on offer in nearby towns and with number of adventure/outdoor centres dotted along the banks of the loch you’ll be sure to find knowledge and information relating to all things kayaking in the area if you’re still struggling.
Weather, rocky parts of the shoreline (in places), other boating traffic, anglers and sea planes are all worth taking note of. Get an up to date weather forecast, know your limitations and avoid potentially sketchy situations.
Ins and Outs:
There are plenty of put in spots all around the loch and a number of outdoor centres operate on its banks for those who want the comfort of familiar scenery.
Lough Neagh Discovery Centre and Antrim Lough Shore Park are good starting points.
There’s plenty more information regarding paddling on the Lough Neagh on the Canoe NI site. Here you’ll find Lough Neagh Canoe Trail details and loads more insights into the area and its paddling opportunities.
Lough Neagh (Loch Neagh as it’s also referred to) is the largest freshwater lake in Northern Ireland and the UK in general. Boasting a whopping 392 square kilometres the lake is the 15th largest expanse of water in the European Union and is approximately 20 miles in length and nine miles wide.
Lough Neagh is fairly shallow along its edges, perfect for putting in, while the deepest point is about 80ft deep. Flanked by five of the six Northern Irish counties Fermanagh is the only one which isn’t attached to the lake.
The loch is used as a source of fresh water and there have been plans spoken about for a while regarding drawing more but as yet nothing has been set in place.
It used to be widely believed that Lough Neagh was owned by the state but in 2005 it emerged that it was actually ancestral property belonging to the Earl of Shaftesbury. In 2012 there were reports floating around that the Earl is considering transferring the ownership of the loch to the Northern Ireland Assembly.