Welcome to Lough Neagh & its Waterways
Bordering five of Northern Ireland’s six counties, Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles at 18 miles long and 7 miles wide and the third biggest in Europe and is a popular choice with visitors.
Lough Neagh captivates visitors with its tranquil atmosphere, un-spoilt scenery, secluded bays and skyward views. A haven for wildlife and home to a wealth of flora and fauna, the lough also has a rich Christian heritage, with the remnants of three round towers and one of the finest high crosses in the whole of Ireland, Ardboe Cross. Local legend has it that the cross was built with the help of a ‘magic cow’ (the Gaelic Ard bó meaning ‘height of the cow’) which stepped out of the lough and provided workmen with lashings of cream, milk and butter whilst constructing it.
There are a number of canals linked to the lough including the Lagan Canal, the Ulster Canal, the Newry Canal and Coalisland Canal. There are heritage and ecological sites of interest both on its shores and on islands within the Lough. The surrounds of the lough can be investigated by foot, car or bicycle whilst the lough itself is navigable by following the Lough Neagh Canoe Trail, and various forms of boats ranging from yachts and barges to cruisers. There are a number of stations on the shoreline at various points around the 79 mile perimeter, bases for jetties, marinas, and water-based activities.
The richness of the wildflower meadows, woodlands, shoreline and open water means that there is always something special to see. The lough has two major islands; Ram’s Island and Coney Island, both of which have significant historic interest. Visitors can explore Lough Neagh on a day trip on The Maid of Antrim or the Islands of Lough Neagh on the Coney Explorer or the Island Warrior. Lough Neagh is also growing as a major boating and sailing destination and has four main marinas at Kinnego, Ballyronan, The Battery and Sandy Bay.
Whether it is the mythical story of Finn McCool or the more scientific explanation that you choose to believe about Lough Neagh’s history, the largest natural resource in Northern Ireland is undoubtedly an ‘eco-treasure’. There is so much to see and do from history and heritage, visitor attractions to land and water based activities including a cycle trail, the Peatlands Park and the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre & Oxford Island Nature Reserve.
The Lough Shore Cycling Trail is well known to both racing and leisure cyclists. A unique cycleway, not only because of its location, but because it uses quiet country lanes and consists of mainly flat terrain. As well as providing breathtaking views the trail also incorporates over 25 major sites of interest including marinas, nature reserves, parks and sites of archaeological interest.
Indulge in a shopper’s delight by viewing the Potters at work at Ballydougan Pottery and why not browse the gift shop, once an 18th century house and select the perfect piece to take home. Or enjoy the best of high street fashion and retail at Junction One Outlet, Antrim.
Lough Neagh’s best kept secrets are just paradise waiting to be explored.