This month saw the opening of a new campsite on the banks of the Blackwater River which is set to enhance the canoeing experience on this popular canoe trail.
The 20km canoe trail, launched in 2007 has transformed this previously underused resource to allow people to follow the river as it lazily meanders through the beautiful countryside of counties Armagh and Tyrone, flowing gently into Lough Neagh.
The Copney campsite located just downstream of Bond’s Bridge is only accessible from the river via a newly installed canoe step, offering an enclosed grassy area for pitching approximately 10 small tents and the luxury of an eco-toilet.
“The campsite will be a great asset for canoeists visiting the Blackwater Canoe Trail, its location is ideally suited to allow their journey to be split over two days therefore making the trail more appealing for a short break,” enthused Liam Baxter, Development Executive, Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland.
On visiting the campsite, Councillor Sean McGuigan, Mayor of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council highlighted “The council is delighted to support this project which allows both the local community and visitors to enjoy the beauty of our rural countryside. It is great to see the Blackwater Canoe Trail continue to develop from strength to strength.”
The canoe trail starts from Maydown Bridge flowing downstream to Coney Island on Lough Neagh. The nine access points are clearly marked on the innovative waterproof trail guide and CanoeNI.com website which are essential tools for planning a trip on the trail. Each access point also has an interpretative panel to inform canoeists and interested river bank watchers alike. “The Blackwater Canoe Trail is really popular with our members, every Christmas we organise a Turkey Paddle attracting around 100 canoeists of all ages and abilities. The campsite is a great addition to the trail, in fact I’m already planning my first overnight camp,” added Peter Dew, Chairperson, Canoe Association of Northern Ireland
Built heritage is abundant throughout the trail, The Argory, a beautifully kept National Trust property overlooking the river is a perfect example whilst nature lovers will enjoy regular sightings of colourful kingfishers. Lawrence Stanford, Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure added “We are delighted to be associated with this project as part of our commitment to develop the recreational potential on Northern Ireland’s inland waterways.”
The campsite which is available to use free of charge on a first come first served basis has been developed by Outdoor Recreation NI in partnership with Dungannon & South Tyrone District Council with funding from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. The council has taken the proactive step to lease the land from a private landowner and provide ongoing maintenance and insurance for the site.
Further information on the Blackwater Canoe Trail and campsite is available on CanoeNI.com.