Chris Scott is activity tourism manager, Outdoor Recreation NI. Chris has worked with the marketing team within Outdoor Recreation NI since 2007 with the responsibility for adventure activities and canoeing
Asked to name Northern Ireland's five best canoe trails, he recommends...
Blackwater Canoe Trail
The 20km Blackwater Canoe Trail is an ideal venue for canoeing enthusiasts of all abilities. The river lazily meanders through the beautiful countryside of counties Armagh and Tyrone and flows gently into Lough Neagh. The trail can be canoed in its entirety or split into shorter sections to suit those just out for a leisurely trip. One nice section, downstream of Blackwatertown, provides slow moving water perfect for families or those embarking on their first canoe trip.
North Coast Sea Kayak Trail
This offers exciting tide races, overfalls, exhilarating swells and challenging hidden reefs. Coupled with a variety of rugged coastal scenery and unique wildlife, this trail is a real show-stopper, however only experienced kayakers should take on the entire trail. There are some moderate sections where you can enjoy ancient castles and geological wonders.
Strangford Lough Canoe Trail
This trail stretches over 80 square nautical miles and is a true paddler's paradise. Beginners should stick to the western side of the lough between Whiterock and Killyleagh, where a small group of islands known as the ‘basket of eggs' offer a myriad of channels and routes to explore. The south west area around Delamont Country Park and Salt Island also offer sheltered waters. Look out for seals, Arctic terns, Irish hares, porpoises and much more.
Lough Erne Canoe Trail
This is one of the most popular canoe trails because of its suitably for such a wide range of abilities. The maze of bays, narrow channels of slow moving water and innumerable islands and peninsulas in Upper Lough Erne offer a superb venue for families or those embarking on their first canoe trip. Alternatively, Lower Lough Erne, north of Rossigh, is known by locals as the “broad lough” and can become very rough in strong winds, so this is an area best left to experts. The islands and quiet shores of Lough Erne are ideal for wild camping, making it perfect for those seeking a true wilderness experience.
Foyle Canoe Trail
This river and sea canoe trail offers varied paddling opportunities with a mix of water conditions, from flat water to sea lough, and is suitable for a wide range of abilities. Running through the centre of Londonderry, this trail gives paddlers the opportunity to explore the city's wealth of attractions and entertainment. The city is quite majestic from the river, offering a unique perspective of Gothic buildings, vast bridges and riverside trains.
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