Strangford Lough Canoe Trail
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Canoeing is an adventure sport and as such should be treated with respect. If you are new to the sport, it is advisable to join an organised club where expert coaching can be provided. (Details of clubs and courses can be found at

When taking part in canoeing consider the following safety advice:

  • ‘The Narrows’ has extremely powerful tidal currents which should only be tackled by appropriately experienced canoeists.
  • A ferry operates across ‘The Narrows’ between Strangford and Portaferry every 15 minutes.
  • Be aware of the limitations and needs of larger craft that are restricted to deep water channels.
  • The Lough is a major water recreational area and you should be aware of other users, especially sailing boats when they are competing in races.
  • Wear adequate buoyancy in the form of a personal life jacket or buoyancy aid. Canoe buoyancy should be sufficient to keep the canoe afloat if you capsize.
  • Wear adequate clothing. Prolonged immersion in cold water leads to hypothermia – hypothermia can kill.
  • It is not recommended to canoe alone – three boats is the minimum required for most rescues.
  • Remember - a canoe may be difficult to see from a larger craft so carry a whistle.
  • You do not need to be a strong swimmer but you will need the water confidence to deal with a capsized boat and get ashore safely.
  • Consider attending a recognised training course which explores skills, safety and environmental issues.
  • Carry and know how to use a map and compass.
  • It is recommended that paddlers obtain an up-to-date weather forecast as the Lough can become rough in strong winds. Carrying rafting poles for open canoes is also a sensible precaution (rafted canoes are more stable in rough conditions).
  • The Canoe Association of Northern Ireland (CANI) recommends that paddlers leave details of their journey with the Coastguard and a responsible adult.
  • Carry adequate basic safety equipment - spare clothes, extra food, warm drink, bivvi bag and means of communication (VHF radio or mobile phone, flares etc), first aid kit.
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