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Practical Guide

Practical Guide – Lower Bann Canoe Trail Guide


This practical guide has been designed by local experts to help you make the most of your next trip on the Lower Bann Canoe Trail. This 58km trail offers a great opportunity to explore this beautiful river.

Planning a Trip

Suitable For:

The Lower Bann Canoe Trail offers both tranquil waters and some faster flowing sections of Grade 2-3 water. The trail can be paddled in two long days but more comfortably in three.

There are 5 weirs and 3 sluice gates on the river which can be extremely dangerous. However, at all times it is possible to safely paddle into the navigation channels to avoid the weirs and sluice gates. All these are clearly indicated on the Lower Bann Canoe Trail Guide.

For those wishing to avoid weirs completely a 22.4km section Grade 1 flat water section is available from Toome to Hutchinson’s Quay.

The nature of the river means shuttles are required, the vast majority of canoe providers will offer a shuttle service.

Best for:

Canoe Camping

The 58km trail is perfect for canoe camping trips. Both official and rough campsites, with and without facilities respectively are well spaced out, allowing for enjoyable days on the river with peaceful nights under the stars.

Direction of Flow

The Lower Bann flows northwards from Lough Neagh to the Atlantic Ocean. The river turns into a tidal estuary downstream of the Cutts (GR C8854 302). The Barmouth where the estuary flows into the sea can be extremely dangerous. Paddling to sea through the Barmouth is NOT part of the trail and can only be recommended for highly experienced canoeists.


The CanoeNI team has combined their knowledge with that of many local experts to design a variety of canoeing itineraries to allow you to make the most of your next short break or day trip to the Lower Bann Canoe Trail. These are our favourite itineraries, however the beauty of this 58km trail is that they can be mixed and matched to create an almost infinite number of itineraries.

Useful Info

CanoeNI +44 (0)28 9030 3930

Antrim Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 9442 8331

Ballymena Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 2563 5010

Ballymoney Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 2766 0230

Coleraine Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 7034 4723

Magherafelt Visitor Information Centre: +44(0)28 7963 1510

Police Non Emergency: 101

Currency: The Lower Bann is in Northern Ireland. Pounds Sterling (GBP) are accepted everywhere in Northern Ireland.


There are 5 locks including 1 double lock along the Lower Bann.

The 5 locks on the Lower Bann are operated by Lock keepers. Please follow their instructions and ensure the safety of all your passengers when the boat is in the lock. Lock passage is £1 per boat per lock, with a reduction to £0.50 if two or more boats go through the lock together. Please contact them on the following numbers before traveling:

Locks Telephone No.

Locks Telephone No.

  • Toome +44(0)78 7603 2891 
  • Portna +44(0)28 2954 0214
  • Movanagher & Carnroe +44(0)28 2954 0570
  • Cutts +44(0)28 7034 2999
  • Supervisor +44(0)78 7603 2891

Opening Hours of Locks

  • 1st April to 31st May: 10.00 to 18.30
  • 1st June to 31st August: 09.00 to 20.00
  • 1st September to 31st October: 10.00 to 18.00
  • 1st November to 31st March: 10.00 to 16.00
  • Lunch (locks closed): 13.00 to 14.00

For more information see Waterways Ireland


General Safety

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 organized club or take some lessons with a canoeing provider, both options will offer expert coaching.

When participating in canoe sport note should be taken of the following safety advice:

  1. Do not canoe without 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
  2. It is recommended not to canoe alone – three boats is the minimum required for most rescues
  3. Remember – a canoe may be difficult to see from a larger craft – carry a whistle
  4. You do not need to be able to swim vast distances but you will need the water confidence to deal with a capsized boat and get ashore safely
  5. Carry and know how to use a map and compass
  6. Wear adequate clothing, prolonged immersion in cold water leads to hypothermia – hypothermia can kill.
  7. Leave details of your journey with a responsible adult

Lower Bann Specific

  1. The Lower Bann is a navigational right of way – boats proceeding in opposite directions should pass each other port to port
  2. Be aware of the limitations and needs of larger craft that are restricted to deep water channels.
  3. The Lower Bann is zoned for recreational purposes. Please note the zones indicated on the map – expect to deal with the wake of fast boats.
  4. Lough Beg can become rough in strong winds – carrying rafting poles is a sensible precaution (rafted canoes are more stable in rough conditions)
  5. Water levels can rise very quickly on the River – when levels rise the areas above the weirs and flood gates become extremely dangerous – these are clearly marked on the map and should be avoided by inexperienced paddlers. For detailed information on the river and its levels contact: Rivers Agency: +44 (0)28 7034 2357
  6. There are 5 weirs and 3 sluice gates on the river which can be extremely dangerous. However, at all times it is possible to safely paddle into the navigation channels to avoid the weirs and sluice gates. All these are clearly indicated on the Lower Bann Canoe Trail Guide.

Emergency Telephone Numbers

In the unlikely event of an Emergency use the following numbers:

Police and Ambulance

999 (all phones) or 112 (all phones)

Coast Guard

999 (all phones) or VHF channel 16

Note that mobile phone reception is unreliable in many areas.

Earning a welcome

Have respect for locals:

  • Be friendly and polite to local residents.
  • Drive slowly with care and consideration and park sensibly without causing obstruction.
  • Be as quiet as possible.
  • Get changed discreetly out of public view.
  • Get permission before going on to private property.
  • Avoid wildlife disturbance and environmental damage - only go ashore at recognised landing places.
  • Be considerate to other water users.
  • Follow the Leave No Trace Principles.

Have respect for anglers:

  • Keep well clear of anglers fishing from banks and boats.
  • Keep clear of shallow gravel areas of rivers where salmon and trout may spawn - especially during November, December and January.


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