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The Shannon Blueway


Canoeing down the Shannon 2017          

As it's someone Special, Special Birthday we are planning a new adventure to mark the occasion. We have talked  about taking the canoe on the Shannon for a few days since we got this sit on top two man canoe, and now is the time. It feels like the right time and the forecast is favourable for the next few days. A friend has offered to drop us with our Land Rover at an access point and pick us up again up when we are ready. We have checked out suitable locations and Battlebridge Co. Leitrim seems like a good place to start.  The water levels in the River north to Drumshambo are too low with visable rocks along the stretch, the other option is the very narrow canal, not a good option for us if meeting bigger boats. 

It's May 10th and we have had 10 days of beautiful sunny summer weather will it hold out for a few more? Let's go for it!   All the gardening jobs have been achieved during these ten days and we are relaxed and ready. 


A phone call away from  Battlebridge. We're on our way.IMG 20170705 191722 On our arrival we chatted to a boat man, who happened to also be a musician and was aware of Jimmy and his music. He sang a song and played his guitar for us,

What a good note to begin our trip. musical1

This is the first time that we've attempted camping with the canoe. We have been day tripping on Lough Gara since we got the boat just over a year ago. So we are excited about the opportunity to leave the Jeep behind. We've done a lot of canoeing in two single man fiberglass boats, on Lakes, Rivers, Canals and the sea shore, but that was a long time ago. 

The moment we launched, it felt just perfect, there was no one else on this narrow stretch of the Shannon on this sunny May morning. What more could you ask for.. We padded at our ease, there's no hurry, no destination in mind and no time to be there. With such sunshine it's easy to imagine that we are in a tropical paradise, and we are. No airport fuss, no ferry crossing, no expense and just down the road. 




 We passed Leitrim village and on down to Carrick-on-Shannon. IMG 20170705 190019IMG 20170705 190145There are hundreds of cabin cruisers docked at both sides of the Bridge. Just a handful seem occupied, the season hasn't begun yet. It's dinner time, and it was easy to get takeout fish dinners with all the trimmings from a local Hotel, they are used to feeding boat people. 


 At a wider stretch of water we were drawn towards the reeds at the unusual sound of birds. With our binoculars we had a good sighting of some Lapwing chicks with a parent nesting deep within the reedbed. Some adult Lapwings flying overhead sounded troubled so we moved along for fear of distressing them. Later we came to a tiny Island where we set up camp for the night, and christened it Lapwing Island. 

After a long restful night it was time for breakfast, and as we didn't have cooking facilities and we fancied something hot, Jamestown was just a short paddle away. IMG 20170705 184645IMG 20170705 184420We tied up the boat at the access point and took a walk up to the village. It's a beautiful village with very friendly people but no place to eat, no restaurant, no shop, no garage. A local man offered to drive us to the next village as he stopped to wish us well, and a woman walking her dog asked us to her home for tea. 


We thanked both of them for their generous offer, but had enough food with us for breakfast and decided that a hot lunch later would be just fine.canalpeace From here we entered a short canal. It was so calm and peaceful with birds flying back and forth, that we paddled silently trying to disturb the water as little as possible.


There were no other boats about so the peace remained. 

At the lock we carried the boat, which was a long distance right to the end of the jetty.  From here the water expanded  and we had a long mornings paddling, taking a break from time to day time by pulling up to shore to ligh do sciath. The sunshine is even hotter today and it's good to have easy access to the water to cool down. There are a number of boats about today, some are very respectful and slow down before passing, others seem to be on the water for the first-time and are unaware of the affect of the swell from their boat has on a canoe. Fortunately we aren't first-timers and are experienced enough to know how to face into the fast moving wave coming towards us. 




IMG 20170705 182346IMG 20170705 182059Right now hot food is on our minds. We bypass Dromod,  we know the Shannon Keys hotel in Roosky, as we eat there a few years ago. The River narrows and Roosky is in sight but to our disappointment the hotel looks like it's closed down. It has been closed for years the shopkeeper tells us as we stock up for a picnic. 


A picnic is good in the sunshine at any time of year. As we left the town there is a weir and a lock. The weir looked  far too fast and unsafe, and the distance to carry the canoe was quite a distance. After talking to the lock keeper who kindly offered to let us through the lock if we waited for the next boat to arrive we decided to carry it and move on. The canoe is heavy when carrying it long distances and thoughts of creating a foldaway wheel device for future adventures are something we will give more time to. As we entered Lough Boderg there was a change in the weather and a strong wind coming sideways onto the boat created a big swell. It was time to paddle hard and nonstop  to keep from being swept to the side or even being overturned. It continued for about a half an hour before easing. It was a tuff paddle and a relief when we could take it a bit more relaxed. I was aware that I would have been swept away if I was in a canoe by myself, that my strength or lack of it was not good enough for these conditions, a good learning for me. 

longford bridgelongfortThe sight of that familiar Bridge in Tarmonbarry was a welcome relief. When we arrived we were hungry tired and cold, and relieved to be able to camp up for the night. Jimmy set up camp on the River bank while I went in search of hot food. Success at last, we were so glad of the hot food, a lot of fish with chips and mushy peas, I must have looked hungry as well as cold. Once warmed up we had a little Jameson from the hip flask, packed away for just such an emergency and sleep came easily. 

Next morning the good weather is back but the forecasters say it is to be short lived and will break in the pm. We made a phonecall for an afternoon pickup in Lanesboro. Our adventures are all about fun and pleasure. Seems like all the boat people are lying in this morning it's just us once again with the nature. Passing under this lift bridge we are reminded of the many times stopped here when crossing the River by car as we watched boats pass beneath while the bridge lifted to allow them to continue their journey.

A White Swan feather landed beside the boat we picked it up and made it our mission to find 6 more. Alongside a small island we tied up the boat and enjoyed a morning dip in the peaceful sunshine. On our leisurely way collecting feathers we noticed an old train track and wondered if it ever gets used.

train12rosieboat2In the distance we heard a rumbling which became louder and sure enough here comes a train. A little engine with open containers trundling across the track. Just as we were recovering from the thrill of being in the right place at the right time there  came a second one with a wave from the engine driver this time. They were on their way to the bog for turf to fuel the only remaining turf fueled power station in the country. We could now see the power station in the distance and knew that we were approaching Lanesboro. Just then the first boat of the day passed with a friendly wave from the occupants. when we arrived at the slipway we were invited on board their boat for tea. We greatfully accepted their invitation as we have found that we get cold immediately after we get out of the boat, and we were waiting for Gerry to arrive with Rosie our faithfull Land Rover. 

They agreed that this was a good place for us to end this leg of our trip. Lough Ree is the next stage and even for hardened experienced canoeists it is a difficult challange. The conditions need to be just perfect and even then it is not for the faint hearted, there had been a recent death on this section. We were greatful for their advice and experience as they have been boating the Shannon for a long number of years.




Gerry soon arrived and we all had tea and Apple Tart which Patricia and Paddy had just bought at the local farmers market.

Paddy played tunes on the Banjo and Gerry sang a few songs,

 What a great note to complete our adventure. 

This was a great experience for our first camping boat trip, and we expect it to be the first of many.