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Tour 2007

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April 2007

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13 - Dromod to Spencer Harbour - Shannon Navigation inc Lough Allen Canal and Lough Allen.

Thursday 12th April 2007

We left Dromod at 08:10 and decided to explore the Lough Allen Canal on the way back. It was a rather a speedy passage through Albert Lock (09:40-09:55), as we just caught a boat coming out. Mrs Bourke was in attendance and was intrigued to hear how we had got on. We passed through Carrick at 11:15, there being plenty of room on the wharves by the bridge.
At 12:15 Leitrim came into view, so we turned left and carried on up the Shannon, reaching Battlebridge Lock and the start of the Lough Allen Canal (12:40). There was a French crewed hire boat hogging most of the moorings. the captain was vague about his intentions, but a spurt of French from Peter Wright soon got the answer that they were not going up.
There was no W.I. staff about, so Neil phoned up the locky, Paddy Joe Carty. He was a bit miffed as it was his day off and his stand in should be about. He explained to Neil that there was a self operated CB radio consol near the lock to summon the keeper from one of the other locks. The locky soon arrived in his car, being in transit between the locks. Following lunch hour and other delays we eventually got locked up. The locky was rather flustered, seeing as he had to juggle water (Lough Allen was well below the summit pound of the canal and the back pumping was not on) and he was the only person on for the three locks.
The canal sections are quite narrow by Irish standards and have an almost English feel about them. After the second lock, Drumleague, the canal opens out into the wide Acres Lake. On the east shore there are some visitor mooring pontoons and an amenity area, Up the top corner of the lake there was a new private marina, flanked by the inevitable development of new houses. After the lake there is another small canal section, Drumshanbo Lock being unexpectedly around a sharp bend. The waiting pontoon is away from the lock, but as there was no boats about we moored just under the bridge at the top of the lock. Predictably a hire boat came in view and was locked up before us, we moved back once the hire boat was ready to come out. There are plenty of pontoon moorings below the lock, as this is one of only three mooring sites on Lough Allen.
Some four and a half hours later we sailed away from Drumshanbo Lock, we could have gone up and down the Hatton 21 in that time! Well this is Ireland and it did not matter... it was a stunning, still and clear evening to be out on Lough Allen and we know that we were one of only three boats on the lake! (there was one boat now behind us)
The Lough Allen Canal is another recent restoration, the two bottom locks (Battlebridge and Drumleague) were restored in 1978 and have hydraulic paddles on one side only. The Acres Lake amenity area was the head of navigation until the double acting Drumshanbo Lock was opened in 1996, taking the canal into Lough Allen for the first time since the 1920's after it was used as a compensating reservoir for the Ardnacrusha Power Station. This new totally mechanised lock enables the canal to be used with the lake level lower or higher than the canal.
The entrance to the lake proper is by a torturous well markered route. To start with this course goes through a boggy area, flanked by the Lough Allen Ramada Hotel, it then goes to the right (east) of Inisfale Island. Beyond here the lake totally opens out, flanked by the Arigna Mountains to the west and the distinctive ridge of Cuilcagh Mountain to the east.
The marker system continues right round the navigable flanks of the lake, the change from port to starboard occurs at the top, where the River Shannon enters the lake. The lake is 8 miles long and 3 miles maximum width. Because of the mountains having a funnelling effect for wind it is notorious for heavy "sea" conditions. But tonight was marvellous, with the spring sunshine and hardly any breeze. We did not really have a plan, other than we wanted to investigate the two ports and of course the entrance of the Shannon at the northern end. It seemed natural to go round the lake anti-clockwise, so to start with we investigated the visitor moorings at Cleighran More, tucked behind a small peninsular half way down the lake. There was a hire boat on the moorings, so we thought that as it was a lovely evening we would go and explore the Shannon and moor up at Spencer harbour, which is in the NW corner.
The entrance of the Shannon was marked by two "End Of Navigation" markers, quite close together. We did not assume that this was the deepest channel to explore further on, so Neil got on the roof with the long "depth gauge" foot marked long shaft. It was around 7ft at the entrance and all the time Neil poled, it did not go below 5ft depth, with a hard silt bottom. To be quite honest we did not go that far, as we could see old tree branches marooned ahead, in what appeared to be centre channel. After a slow wind we retraced our steps and then headed round the top of the lake and then began the wide sweep round into the visitor moorings at Spencer Harbour, which are tucked in behind Corry Island.
The route is was circuitous as there were a couple of just visible rock reefs. Once round the corner the visitor mooring pontoon came into view and we could see that the steel cruiser that had taken the direct route up the lake was in residence. After a rather tight wind (we ended up pulling the bow round on the lengthways pontoon) we moored up, helped by some friendly Germans aboard the smart Linssen Dutch steel cruiser, that we later found out was a time share boat from Killinure Marina on Lough Ree.
The two lakeside moorings have only recently been connected up, via a long swinging pontoon to land, before that you had to use a tender to get ashore. This swinging pontoon was long and well engineered, due to the great level fluctuations experienced in the lake.
As I keep on saying it really was one of those magical evenings, by now totally still, with a fine sunset. We investigated the new car park and picnic areas, but were disappointed to note that the old harbour buildings and brickworks have been sold to developers. That evening it was a mega curry on board, washed down by a couple of bottles of good red wine

Link to IWAI page about Lough Allen


Leaving Dromod, we pass across Lough Bolfin. Shannon Navigation.


Albert Lock. Shannon Navigation.


Albert Lock. Shannon Navigation.


Albert Lock. Shannon Navigation.


Looking back at Jamestown visitor moorings. Shannon Navigation.


Riversdale barge Meave. Shannon Navigation.


Passing through the boatyards above Carrick - On - Shannon. Shannon Navigation.


Hartley Bridge. Shannon Navigation.


Leitrim. We take the Shannon Navigation and Lough Allen Canal up to Lough Allen, to the left. The Shannon-Erne Waterway goes off to the right.


Shannon Navigation above Leitrim.


Shannon Navigation above Leitrim.


Battlebridge Lock, the start of the Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Battlebridge Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Battlebridge Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Battlebridge Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Battlebridge Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Battlebridge Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Battlebridge Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Battlebridge Lock, Lough Allen Canal. The side sluice to drop the water into the River Shannon, which is beside the lock. Shannon Navigation.


Looking back at Battlebridge Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Looking back at Battlebridge Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Pedestrian Lift bridge, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. The boaters CB radio link with the other two locks. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Direct hydraulic controls. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumleague Lock, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Acres Lake amenity area, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Acres Lake amenity area, Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Waiting area for Drumshanbo Lock, which is just the other side of the bridge. Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumshanbo Lock. Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumshanbo Lock, this has two sets of gates, to allow for the level in Lough Allen to be above of below the canal. Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumshanbo Lock, view of moorings in the lower reach of Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Drumshanbo Lock. Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumshanbo Lock. Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Drumshanbo Lock. Lough Allen Canal. Shannon Navigation.


Looking back at Drumshanbo Lock. Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


The Lough Allen Ramada hotel. Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Looking back at Drumshanbo Lock. Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


The tortuous route into  Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Looking back at Drumshanbo Lock. Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Looking back at Lough Allen Ramada Hotel. Shannon Navigation.


The continuation of the route out into Lough Allen. Inisfale Island is to the left. Shannon Navigation.


Last look back at Drumshanbo. Lough Allen.


Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


The cruise we spotted in Jamestown eventually burns us off. Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Entrance to Cleighran More visitor moorings. Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Entrance to Cleighran More visitor moorings. Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Entrance to Cleighran More visitor moorings. Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Inshmagrath Island. Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Looking back down Lough Allen. Shannon Navigation.


Lough Allen. the Shannon enters at this point. We test the waters and find a 5ft solid silt bottom.


Lough Allen. We test the waters above the end of navigation markers.


The Shannon above Lough Allen.


Lough Allen. After a careful wind we head back to the end of navigation markers, using the same course as we came in.


Lough Allen. We enter from the Upper Shannon.


The entrance markers for Spencer Harbour, one of only three places to moor on Lough Allen.


Approaching Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen.


Approaching Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen.


Approaching Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen.


Approaching Spencer Harbour. Looking back, showing projecting rocks! Lough Allen.


Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen.


Approaching Spencer Harbour. Looking back at Lough Allen.


Approaching Spencer Harbour. Looking back at Lough Allen.


Approaching Spencer Harbour. Looking back at Lough Allen.


Our incredibly peaceful mooring at Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen.


Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen.


Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen.


Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen. The friendly German crew of the Linssen cruiser that shadowed us from Jamestown.


Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen.


Spencer Harbour. Lough Allen.

The Tour Continues...


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