A – Z of Adventure
Angling for the big one
20lb + predatory pike await the angler ‘good enough’ to take them on. The Erne World Pike Fishing Classic takes it to a whole new level with boat and shore competitions and the participants in the Lough Ree International Pike Fishing Competition also regularly have catches of the largest pike.
Long loops, short loops, linear routes and up and down routes, the waterways are surrounded by biking routes linking the scenic views, the quaint villages, urban life and the rural idyll, - oh and those mountain biking routes too. Cycle Hubs around Nenagh, Mullingar and Birr are matched by rural routes like the Lough Derg Way and Kingfisher Cycle Trail. Portumna Mountain Bike Trails are currently the only Lakeland trails but the Slieve Bloom bike trails will be on the go soon!
Whether you like the eating or the preparation of it, unsurpassed culinary adventures await – there’s actually a book about it – Taste of the Waterways. Food Trails are being developed, but in the meantime you can’t go wrong with the many cookery schools, food festivals, slow food producers, farmers markers, high tea, fine dinner and pub grub opportunities that await.
Dragon Boat Racing
Dragon boating is an ancient Chinese sport which dates back over 2000 years to a time of rivalry, intrigue and corruption. The racing that take place in Ireland now while full of passionate enthusiasm and rivalry has much less intrigue and corruption. The Grand Canal Basin in Dublin is the main base on the inland waterways with two clubs operating out of it, one in particular for breast cancer survivors.
Join important environmental and wildlife conservation projects and help preserve our natural environment. Join a range of projects with Friends of the Grand Canal based in Dublin or Seedsavers in Tuamgraney, Co Clare or check out the conservation volunteers.
Helicopter tours and scenic flights are a great way to gain a perspective on Ireland’s varying landscapes. Flights from St Angelo on Lough Erne can take you to the coast and back along Upper and Lower Lough Erne’s winding ways, or try a sea plane landing with Harbour Air on Lough Derg.
Solo hovercraft racing: what amazing fun - on a land and water course over seven laps as you slip around like on ice! ODD in Belturbet sort it out for you!
With one lake having just over 200 islands and the other lakes and rivers having many islands dotted expanses, island hopping in Ireland takes on a whole new meaning. Canoe travel will give you access to almost all of them – while low draft motor craft can access many of the publicly owned islands – Castle Archdale Country Park includes many islands open to the public and Devenish Island and Holy Island both offer a little extra; round towers and monastic ruins to explore.
Jet Skiing, Waterskiing and Wakeboarding
There are many places to experience the thrill of jet-skiing, with new clubs forming to run competitive events for those interested in taking their sport to a new level. Water-skiing has been popular on the inland waterways since the 1950’s and has multiple proponents along the system, who also have expanded into wakeboarding, wake-skiing and other manifestation of these fast growing sport. Try Watermark in Portumna, The Edge Waterports or Ski Supreme on the Lower Bann. Cable Wakeboarding is also taking place in Dublin city centre on the Grand Canal Basin, giving the ultimate mix of high octane adventure and city style.
Kayaking and Canoeing
Paddle the Lower Bann River, catchment for 1/5 water from Northern Ireland along its 60km length from Lough Neagh to Coleraine and on to the sea. Join with the white water canoe clubs to run the Barrow River in Autumn and Winter. Excellent slalom and distance racing challenge even all comers!
Follow a local guide and learn about the legends of the Chieftains and Kings, on walks lasting from one hour to a day or two or hear tales of Dukes, commissioners, canal builders, and boatmen illustrating the life along the Grand Canal during its construction and the subsequent 300 years of use!
Music, Song and dance are interwoven with the waterway, from theatres where you can moor you boat, to stages out on the water with musicians or actors performing, and every type and variation in between. Most boaters take advantage of the traditional music in cosy pub sessions, but the Carrick Water Festival offers a classical alternative, as does the banjo festival in Longford.
Lakes, rivers and canals all network together in Ireland’s 1000km of inland waterways. The proximity and ease of movement between the different waterways is epitomised by the Shannon Erne Waterway where lakes, rivers and canal section form one waterway. Co Leitrim is the hotspot where both the Shannon-Erne Waterway and the Shannon as well as Lough Allen and Lough Key in such close proximity create a true hotpot for waterway adventurers willing to try it all.
Observe the Universe
Ireland’s clear skies and wide open spaces are perfect for stargazing and astronomy. In the early 1840’s, the Third Earl of Rosse designed and built the largest telescope in the world, in Birr Demesne, Birr, Co Offaly. With this telescope, he discovered the spiral nature of some of the galaxies, and from 1845-1914 hundreds came from across Europe and beyond, to observe the stars with Lord Rosse. It is arguably the largest historic scientific instrument still working today.
Public parks and spaces along the navigations are plentiful. Hike out or cycle away from your boat into evergreen forests like Portumna Forest Park or Castle Caldwell or take advantage of the children’s and teenagers’ parks in many town centres both indoor and outdoor to entertain and amuse.
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Rowing need not be all about sprinting you know – long distance rowing has been taking place in Ireland for years, but the experience remains unchanged – fun, flexible routes and places to stay over!
Spas and Well-being
Johnstown House Hotel and Spa, Slieve Russel Hotel and Spa, Heritage Hotel and Spa, Mount Wolseley Hotel and Spa, K Club Hotel and Spa, Kilronan Hotel and Spa,
Tripping and Trailing
Whether it’s cycling, walking, canoeing or cruising long distance trails criss-cross the Lakelands region giving multiple opportunities to trip across the unexpected. The Grand & Royal Canals in particular head across the midlands of Ireland and lend the visitor a unique perspective on rural life.
The Marble Arch Caves part of the International Geopark takes you on an underground adventure starting off in a boat and taking you through tunnels and caves under the Fermanagh hillside.
Follow the Viking route North to South along the Erne, Shannon-Erne Waterway and Shannon Navigation as they rampaged along the waterways over 1000 years ago. Monastic settlements still at Devenish and Clonmacnoise are evidence of the need to build in stone in order to withstand their visit. You on the other hand are asked to ‘Leave no Trace’.
Wind-surfing and Wakeboarding
The wide open expanse of lakes really do lend themselves to windsurfing, while the narrower river channels with the calmer waters are perfect for wakeboarding.
Lough Derg, Lough Ree and Lough Erne are renowned for their sailing; the club’s regatta welcome visiting craft, and visiting sailors and their sailing schools give everyone a chance to learn. For sailing adventure, the sail raids are new to Ireland and have sparked such interest, there will be more of those thrilling adventures taking place. The Sailing Clubs on each lake are a good place to meet local yachties.
Go jungle surfing through the trees on the zip line tour at Lough Key Forest Park in Co Roscommon.