Walk of the Week: Craigavon Lakes
This extensive network of walking and cycling paths is set within 250 acres of parkland around the Craigavon Lakes and is suitable for disabled users and families.
The path follows a route through formal parkland and semi-natural grassland habitat where a wealth of wildlife can be seen, including tufted duck, mallard, mute swans, reed bunting, sedge warbler and skylark.
In addition to several small islands located on the North and South lakes, a tern raft has recently been located on the North Lake for breeding terns.
Of particular note, although not part of the main walk, is the wildflower corridor on either side of the railway line, abundant in June and July.
This area has recently been designated as a Local Nature Reserve and is rich in biodiversity, hosting a significant population of bee orchids and Real’s wood white butterflies.
A recommended starting point for the walk is Craigavon Watersports Centre, where a car park, toilets, refreshments and further information are available.
Cyclists can access the path from routes 9 & 94 of the National Cycle Network. The nearest bus stop is at Rushmere Shopping Centre, which is a five-minute walk across a footbridge at the rear of the shopping centre. By car, take junction 10 on the M1 and follow signs to Craigavon Centre. Look for signs to the Watersports Centre at roundabout 3.
From the Craigavon Watersports Centre car park, start walking on the wide tarmac path beside the lake and walk in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, keeping the lake to one side.
For the first half of the walk, follow the signs for Tannaghmore Gardens. Once you have reached the gardens, follow the signs for Craigavon Water Sports Centre to return to the car park.
During the walk, you will come to two bridges. You must pass under these in order to complete the circuit of both lakes. It will take approximately 45 minutes to one hour to complete the walk and at one point you may be up to 100 metres from the water’s edge.
When you approach the railway line, you may want to take a short detour into the Local Nature Reserve on either side of the railway line to view the wildflowers, butterflies and orchids. However, it should be noted that the path for this walk has yet to be laid and is therefore currently unsuitable for disabled users and pushchairs.
The parkland incorporates the Craigavon Lakes Mountain Bike Trail. This 10km trail meanders through the woods and meadows on a single-track path and was designed for adults and children with basic off-road cycling skills.
Tannaghmore Animal Farm and Gardens, which is accessible via the Craigavon Lakes path, covers a total of 100 acres and boasts fine examples of rare breeds of livestock and poultry.
These include Irish Moiled cattle, the rarest breed of cattle in the world. The gardens feature beautiful rose gardens, a listed Georgian farmhouse, picnic and barbecue areas and a children’s play area. Toilet facilities are available.
Located next to Tannaghmore Animal Farm is the Barn Museum, exhibiting displays of farming activities in Co Armagh in days gone by. Located in attractively restored stone outbuildings, themes at the museum include haymaking, dairying, poultry farming, apple orchards, rose growing, beekeeping and blacksmithing.
At the lakeside is the Craigavon Watersports Centre, where expert tuition is offered in a wide range of watersports, cycling, climbing and team building games in a safe environment.
There is bike hire available, including mountain bikes and touring cycles. These can be hired individually or as a pre-booked guided tour. Café and toilet facilities are also available.
The two lakes at Craigavon offer excellent facilities in beautiful surroundings. Anglers may make use of one of the many fishing stands located around the shores of the lakes.
Close to the Craigavon Lakes is Oxford Island, a Nature Reserve, where the visitor will be captivated with the rich diversity of plants and wildlife. Amble along the many trails, view a variety of habitats, woodlands, wildflower meadows, reedbeds and take advantage of the spectacular viewpoints over the vastness of Lough Neagh.
For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, contact Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland at, tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com.
Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (formerly CAAN) in association with Belfast Telegraph has provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.
Walk Name: Craigavon Lakes.
Nearest big town: Craigavon.
Distance: 3 miles, circular.
Terrain: The main walking path is flat with a few slight inclines. Trails off the main path are through forest, parkland and grassland on varied surfaces and some are not suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.
Access Restrictions: Dogs must be kept on leads. Dog fouling must be cleaned immediately.
Refreshments: Available at the Watersports Centre and at nearby Rushmere Shopping Centre.
Publications: Walking and cycling in Craigavon available from Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, Oxford Island, Annaloiste Road, Lurgan, tel: 028 3832 2205.
Walk Developed By: Craigavon Borough Council.
Map: Sheet 20 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from LPSNI Map Shop, Colby House, Stranmillis, Belfast BT9 SBJ, lpsni.gov.uk.