Strangford Lough Canoe Trail
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Trail Overview

This island-studded sea lough is the largest inlet in the UK & Ireland, covering 80 square nautical miles. It is approached from the Irish Sea through the (5 nautical mile) fast-running tidal Narrows which open out into more gentle waters.

The Viking invaders who arrived in their long boats through the fast flowing waters called ‘The Narrows’ bestowed the name Strangfjörthr or ‘place of strong currents’. This is a section of the canoe trail that requires a high level of expertise and it provides an excellent challenge for the experienced paddler!

The Routen Wheel is a series of whirlpools, boils and swirling waters, which is caused by pinnacles of rock on the seabed.This area should be treated with the utmost caution.

By contrast, the calmer waters of the main shallow basin further north gave this Lough its old Irish name, Lough Cuan, meaning sheltered haven. Here paddlers will find a myriad of channels and routes to explore, as well as the chance to discover some of the country’s finest scenery.

Designated as Northern Ireland's first Marine Nature Reserve, Strangford Lough is internationally renowned for its abundance and diversity of habitats and species. Over 2000 marine animal and plant species have been found, most unique to this area. Look out for seals, Arctic Terns, Irish Hares, porpoises and much, much more!

This trail guide has been designed for canoeists by canoeists. It provides practical information including official access points, campsites and tidal details.

Happy paddling!

Please note: Although many of the islands are accessible, in spring and summer some of them become breeding grounds for important and vulnerable bird species and therefore access is not permitted to certain islands at these times. More details can be obtained from The National Trust Warden on 028 4488 1411.

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