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Carlingford Lough

Carlingford Lough is the most dramatic sea lough on the east coast of Ireland. Its broad waters are framed by the wooded slopes of Slieve Martin and the Cooley Mountains which rise steeply, creating a fjord-like setting.

County
Down
Distance
10 nautical miles
Days
1
Nearest Town
Cranfield
Route Shape
Linear
Grade
-
OS Map
29
Access Point
Cranfield - J264106
Egress Point
Warrenpoint - J141180

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Points of Interest

Carlingford Village, Killowen, Rostrevor, Omeath, Warrenpoint

Itinerary

A few miles further along the coast, after rounding Cranfield Point, the sandy beach of Cranfield comes into view. This beach is popular in summer time and the waters of Cranfield Bay are zoned for water sports.


Nearby, the Norman castle of Greencastle, the most impressive along this coast, guards the crossing to County Louth. Offshore is Green Island, an important bird nesting site.


Tidal waters rush though the mouth of Carlingford Lough at up to 5 knots with races, overfalls and rough water extending out beyond Cranfield and Ballagan Points on both the flood and ebb tides. This is a challenging stretch of water suitable for experienced canoeists only. In contrast, tidal streams within the Lough are weak and the paddling is relatively sheltered and pleasant.


Carlingford Lough is the most dramatic sea lough on the east coast of Ireland. Its broad waters are framed by the wooded slopes of Slieve Martin and the Cooley Mountains which rise steeply, creating a fjord-like setting. Beneath the Lough’s waters lies the boundary between Northern Ireland and the
Republic of Ireland. This area is an important shellfish fishery with dredging for mussels and cage cultivated oysters. Shore angling is also popular and canoeists should take extra care when approaching wading anglers. The historic railway village and one time ferry port of Greenore operates today as a freight port. Take care negotiating the shipping channel
and the strong currents near the shore access south of Greenore Point. Both sides of the Lough are shallow with extensive mudflats; these are home to a wide variety of
wading birds. Mill Bay and the shoreline between Greenore and Carlingford are considered prime spots for bird watching.


The narrow winding streets of Carlingford village reflect its Norman and medieval origins. There are several ruined castles, a Dominican priory, and remnants of the ancient town walls. King John’s Castle towers above the harbour, which dries to a mud berth at low tide. Further along the Lough, there are landing places at Killowen
and near the old quay at Rostrevor in Mourne, at Greer’s Quay and Omeath in Louth, and at the beach and public slip in Warrenpoint. The latter is a busy commercial port. Canoeists
should stay clear of the shipping channel - clearly marked along the Lough’s length - and beware of the wash generated by passing vessels. The shipping channel should only be crossed at right angles and only after notifying Warrenpoint Harbour Authority.


Within the Lough, mini-tornadoes or ‘kettles’ form during strong south-south-westerley winds when squalls funnel down from Carlingford Mountain .


Beyond Warrenpoint, the Lough narrows to the historic crossing point at Narrow Water, guarded by a distinctive tower house and bawn and overlooked by steep mountains.
Canoeists can access at the old stone quay on the Newry side of the castle.

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