On the Water
Get into the blue with an adventure on the beautiful North Shannon.
Lined by trees whose branches hang idly over its banks, rich with pastel-coloured wildflowers and surrounded by reeds, grasses and fields cloaked in emerald green, the Lough Allen Canal is a dream to explore. Bathed in languid beauty, it’s hard to believe this idyllic waterway was used for 62 years as a reservoir for the Ardnacrusha Power Station. It’s just one of the places along one of the area’s most alluring natural attractions, the Shannon Blueway, a stretch of on-water and land based trails that are guaranteed to captivate. There are trails for walking or cycling, but the paddling trails are something special, and can be explored either with a guide or on your own. Follow south along the Lough Allen Canal from Drumshanbo, and you’ll get to Acres Lake, a place thick with natural beauty. Here, a floating boardwalk curves over the water past reeds, waterlillies and wildlife, and allows you to connect with nature from an entirely different perspective. Heading further south, the waters of the Lough Allen Canal become the River Shannon at Battlebridge, a popular finishing point for paddling along the canal. From here, the mighty river weaves and curves through pristine green countryside, through the lively town of Carrick-on-Shannon and the scenic waterside villages of Jamestown, Dromod and Roosky. With wide-open lakes and wildflower-strewn banks , getting out on the water here offers thrilling views, peaceful moments and plenty of make-a-splash experiences.
Shannon Blueway Paddling Trails
With calm waters, riverbanks rich in wildlife and splashes of green everywhere you look, the paddling trails along the Shannon Blueway are a great way to appreciate the natural beauty of this part of Ireland. With around 100km of beautiful paddling trails, there's definitely one to suit everyone. You can paddle south from Drumshanbo along the idyllic Lough Allen Canal to Carrick-on-Shannon (16.5km); starting from the charming heritage town of Boyle, head east to Carrick (20km); or embark on a slow-travel adventure all the way down to Lanesborough – a distance of about 50km. One of the shortest trails is also one of the most pleasant and the Camlin River Loop (10km) delivers a perfect kayaking afternoon. It takes about two hours to complete if you're fast (anticlockwise direction from Richmond Harbour) or four hours if you're a slower paddler.
Experienced paddlers can enjoy these trails unguided, but if you are new to paddling or not a confident paddler, then you can still indulge your sense of adventure by contacting one of the water activity providers for a guided paddle with an experienced instructor at bluewaysireland.org
Leitrim Surf Company
The stunning scenery of the Lough Allen Canal is best explored from the water, and there's no better way to enjoy it than in the company of Leitrim Surf Company. Run by instructor Lee Guckian, the Leitrim Surf Company will bring you on guided stand-up paddle boarding trips, pointing out wildlife and the prettiest spots along the canal. The Leitrim Surf Company like to refer to this particularly leafy section of the Blueway between Acres Lake and Lough Allen as the Drumshamazon; it's otherworldly appearance will transport and captivate you.
Moon River Pleasure Cruiser
Based in Carrick-on-Shannon, the Moon River has been bringing happy customers along the Shannon for more than 20 years. The tours are at their most frequent in July when they run twice a day, heading off into the green and blue wilderness of the river.
Spend any time along the Shannon, and you'll soon notice that in summer, cruising is a big deal here. Whether island-hopping in Lough Key or stopping in for lunch in some of the pretty towns along the way, cruising this stretch of the river is something you definitely won't forget. There are lots of great places to organise cruiser hire in Carrick-on-Shannon, with Emerald Star and Carrick Craft being two of the best.
Shannon River Adventure
Offering on-the-water experiences for all ages and abilities, Shannon River Adventure puts the focus firmly on fun. Try a spot of kayaking, tumble down a mud slide, canoe with your family, or take a run and jump into the harbour with a spot of pier jumping. There's a good range of family activity packages here, too, from a two-hour river kayak trip to a three-hour multi-activity trip.
Blueway Waterpark, Lough Allen Drumshanbo
Nothing says summer quite like a day out on an inflatable waterpark! Open seven days a week, this super-fun waterpark kicks off in June and goes right through to September with trampolines, obstacles, slides, cliff jumps and rope swings. Don't fancy bouncing down a slide into the water? No problem… You can opt for a more sedate experience here, too, with stand-up paddle boarding and guided kayaking along the quiet waters of Lough Allen.