Pick up a paddle and take to Northern Ireland's water.
The waterways of Northern Ireland are setting the standard for canoeing facilities across the UK and Ireland and this autumn, according to the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
Canoeing is fast becoming one of the most popular watersports and with the recent launch of two new coastal trails in addition to five renowned inland canoe trails already in existence, NITB’s Destination PR Officer Nigel Tilson says there is an abundance of canoeing facilities available for all ages and abilities.
“We are very fortunate in Northern Ireland to have so many perfect calm lakes and meandering rivers to explore and canoeing provides a great day out or weekend away for the family,” said Nigel.
“Beginners can enjoy quality instruction by local experts and experienced paddlers will be impressed by the great facilities on offer.
“What’s more, on each of the canoe trails there is beautiful scenery and rugged coastline to be enjoyed, right on your doorstep,” he added.
There are five main inland canoe trails in Northern Ireland. Lough Neagh Canoe Trail allows paddlers to 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.
River Blackwater provides an ideal venue for the 20km Blackwater Canoe Trail suitable for canoeing enthusiasts of any ability. The river lazily meanders through the beautiful countryside of counties Armagh and Tyrone, flowing gently into Lough Neagh.
Lough Erne Canoe Trail in Fermanagh is an ideal destination for the canoeing enthusiast with the magnificent lakes of Upper and Lower Lough Erne providing a 50km expanse of water linking with the Shannon.
The 58km Lower Bann Canoe Trail stretching from Lough Neagh to the Atlantic Ocean is a unique way to experience this beautiful river and is suitable for canoeists of all abilities. Passing through constantly changing scenery, the trail offers both tranquil waters and some faster flowing sections.
Strangford Lough Canoe Trail offers 80 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 two new coastal canoe trails, the Foyle Canoe Trail and the South East Canoe Trail, allow canoeists to explore stunning coastlines at either ends of the country.
The Foyle Canoe Trail stretches for 33 miles along the River Foyle and by Lough Foyle’s varied coastline and rural countryside, passing through the historic walled city of Londonderry.
In contrast, the South East Coast Canoe Trail explores rocky bays and long sandy beaches under the breathtaking backdrop of both the Mourne and Cooley mountain ranges. This trail spreads out more than 50 miles from Strangford village to Newry City.
Further information on the current canoe trails can be found at www.canoeni.com/canoe-trails.
The East Coast and North Coast Canoe Trails will be launched early next year. The East Coast trail will stretch 150km from Waterfoot to Portaferry taking in picturesque fishing villages, sea loughs and islands. The North Coast trail will stretch 100km from Magilligan to Waterfoot along the North Coast’s rugged headlands and spectacular sandy beaches.
For those wishing to try their hand at paddling, National Trails Day is taking place on Sunday October 2, where there are six two hour canoeing sessions on offer throughout Northern Ireland with equipment and instruction completely free of charge. Further information can be found at www.nationaltrailsday.co.uk.
Mobile Team Adventure is hosting Canoeing Open Sessions at Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast until mid October and welcomes all abilities and ages to experience canoeing. They are also hosting a six week canoe course from March. For further information visit www.mobileteamadventure.co.uk.
For further information on canoeing facilities and operators as well as information on accommodation and nearby attractions click on www.discovernorthernireland.com or visit your local tourist information centre.