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Tour 2007

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April 2007

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15 - Ballinamore to Belturbet - Shannon-Erne Waterway, Upper Lough Erne and River Erne.

Saturday 14th April 2007

We were now on new ground for Earnest, in the hands of the timer on the lock concerning our departure time. The lock activated at 09:05 and Neil went to operate it, only to find that somebody had left a smart card in the reader! (we subsequently found out that this 20 unit card had 13 units left on it)
The first section is a modified river navigation, which then opens out into the largest Lough that the SEW passes through, Garadice. It was quite misty and we were a bit worried about being able to see the markers. We spotted the marker protecting Church Island in the centre of the lake. The main route through goes to the north of the island, but you can go round the other way and off to the visitor moorings at Swan Island Farm. There is a good restaurant here. LINK The exit from Garadice Lough is convoluted, first the course takes you to the north around the Garadice Park peninsular, then back to the south past the small entrance to the Haughtons Shore visitor moorings, which has a service block and slipway.
The next part of the navigation is an interesting route through the connected Ballymagauran, Derrycassan and Coologe Loughs. From now on the navigation, (which is the modified Woodford River) passes through no more loughs.
The next lock is Skelan No 3, where we spent a night with with Brian Goggin. Bellaheady Bridge No 26 has a handy mooring just upstream. Soon the industry to the north of Ballyconnell came into view, the quarries and cement works of the huge Quinn empire. As we entered Ballyconnell we were greeted by yet more of the rampant development along the waterway, many more new apartments and houses with lay-by marinas.
Ballyconnell has quite a few visitor moorings, first are a series of short finger pontoons, totally unsuitable for even large cruisers, yet alone barges and then wharf moorings each side of the bridge. There is a facilities block on the wharf above the bridge. We have yet to stop in Ballyconnell.
Once through the town the weir for Ballyconnell Lock No 2 is on the right hand side, this lock has a fairly long convoluting lock cut. The next Woodford River section has many meanders as the valley has opened out.
There are many good views back at Ballyconnell of the wind farms and cement works to the north. The final Lock No 1 at Corraquill has a large stone tablet, celebrating the re-opening of the navigation in 1994. There is a Waterways Ireland control centre by the lock which is home to the roving waterways patrollers.
Just below Corraquill Lock is the entrance to the Corraquill Cruising Holidays hire base. Next comes the new replacement Bridge No 31, followed soon after by the old bridge, that had the centre arch removed during the Troubles (this section of the Woodford River is the border between the Republic Of Ireland and Northern Ireland).  Not far after are the last visitor moorings on the SEW, Aghalane Moorings.
The SEW fizzles out at the start of Upper Lough Erne, which is at the well markered and signed junction. To the south is the most direct route through Foalies Cut to the River Erne and the limit of navigation at Belturbet. We carried on and turned north east at the Crom Castle Folly Tower on Gad Island, towards the Crom Castle visitor moorings on the north bank, this is the main course of the River Erne into the lake.
Just beyond Crom Castle LINK we turned Northwards, up the course of the River Finn, the most northerly and obscure route to Belturbet. This waterway is rather wild, for the most part wide, reed fringed meanders. The first visitor moorings were at Bun Bridge and the second at Galloon. The narrowest, markered bit of the waterway was just before the concrete Galloon Bridge.
Not far beyond the River Finn loop enters Quivvy Lough half way along the top (north) shore. Quivvy Marina was where Brain Goggin's barge Knocknagow was moored for a while last year and could be seen at the other end of the Lough, but we turned west towards Belturbet. The narrow entrance from Quivvy Lough is not apparent between the reed banks on the shores, but all became apparent as we past the solitary marker.
After the short connection channel we turned left onto the main River Erne channel bound for Belturbet. Looking back we could see the tight entrance to Foalies Cut on the north west bank. We were surprised to have a speed boat and personal watercraft come past "on the plane" just after this. The idiot crew continued to annoy moored boaters at Belturbet, but seemed to run into trouble with the local Garda when they were taking their craft out at the slipway!
We were surprised that the River Erne course is really quite narrow, some of the markered sections could barely pass two cruisers. As we entered Belturbet there were many new houses and pontoon moorings. The Emerald Star base to the right marked the start of the extensive visitor moorings on the left. Amazingly for the week after Easter we found out that there were many free, but we took the first that a 60ft narrowboat could fit on.
That evening we walked into town and went to the Seven Horseshoes pub for a meal and you guessed it...a pint of Guinness! After the meal we wandered around Belturbet and went to the Erne Bridge, to observe the head of navigation, just before the bridge. There is a rather daft pontoon visitor mooring, right by the sunken weir stream, it only had one boat on it...tomorrow they would be getting visitors!


Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Passing the entrance to Riversdale Barge Holidays. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Looking back at Aghoo Lock No 4. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Entering into Garadice Lough. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Garadice Lough. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Bridge No 24. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


How would you like your pet done, sir? Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Haughtons Shore visitor moorings. Shannon-Erne Waterway. 


Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballymagauran Lough. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballymagauran Lough. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Leaving Derrycassan Lough. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Coologe Lough. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


The visitor moorings by Bridge No 25. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Skelan Lock No 3. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Skelan Lock No 3. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Skelan Lock No 3. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Entering the overdevelopment in Ballyconnell. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


The start of the visitor moorings. Ballyconnell. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell Wharf and facilities block. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell Bridge No 27. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell Bridge No 27. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell Bridge No 27. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


The weir in Ballyconnell. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Looking back at Ballyconnell Bridge No 27. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell Lock No 2. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell Lock No 2. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell Lock No 2. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell Lock No 2. the standard SEW lock control panel. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Ballyconnell Lock No 2. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Looking back at he Quinn works in Ballyconnell. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Cloncoohy Bridge No 29. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Looking back up the Woodford River to Ballyconnell. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


The stone tablet commemorating the opening of the SEW at Corraquill Lock No 2. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Corraquill Lock No 2. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


The Corraquill hire base, just below Corraquill Lock No 2. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Shannon-Erne Waterway.


The replacement Bridge No 31. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


The remains of old Bridge No 31. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Aghalane Moorings and facilities block. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Woodford River / Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Woodford River enters the mass of islands, which makes up Upper Lough Erne. Shannon-Erne Waterway.


Now we Know what the posts are for! Upper Lough Erne.


The junction at the top of Upper Lough Erne. Direct route to Belturbet to the right, via Foalies Cut, we take the upper River Finn way round.


The direct route to Belturbet. Upper Lough Erne.


Upper Lough Erne.


Upper Lough Erne.


Upper Lough Erne.


Crom Castle Folly Tower. Upper Lough Erne.


Upper Lough Erne.


Upper Lough Erne. We take the main River Erne course.


Crom Castle moorings. Upper Lough Erne.


Crom Castle moorings. Upper Lough Erne.


We have taken the upper River Finn loop. Upper Lough Erne.


Upper River Finn loop. Upper Lough Erne.


Bun Bridge, Upper River Finn loop. Upper Lough Erne.


Upper River Finn loop. Upper Lough Erne.


Upper River Finn loop. Upper Lough Erne.


Upper River Finn loop. Upper Lough Erne.


Galloon Bridge. Upper River Finn loop. Upper Lough Erne.


Galloon visitor moorings. Upper Lough Erne.


Looking back at Galloon Bridge. Upper River Finn loop. Upper Lough Erne.


Upper River Finn loop. Upper Lough Erne.


Quivvy Marina in the upper section of Quivvy Lough. Upper Lough Erne.


Exiting Quivvy Lough. Upper Lough Erne.


We are about to enter the lower route to Belturbet. Upper Lough Erne.


We are burned off by a speed boat and personal watercraft on the plane. River Erne.


River Erne.


Foalies Cut, the lower route to Belturbet. River Erne.


River Erne.


River Erne.


River Erne.


River Erne.


River Erne.


River Erne.


Belturbet. River Erne.


The upper visitor moorings. Belturbet. River Erne.


The upper visitor moorings. Neil doing a spot of maintenance. Belturbet. River Erne.


Belturbet. River Erne.


Belturbet.


Belturbet.


Belturbet.


Belturbet Bridge.


Looking up the River Erne from Belturbet Bridge. As you can see, not very deep, a fisherman is wading in the middle.


Looking down the River Erne at the head of navigation moorings from Belturbet Bridge.


Looking down the River Erne at the head of navigation moorings from Belturbet Bridge.


The River Erne head of navigation moorings and Belturbet Bridge.


Belturbet Bridge. River Erne.


Belturbet. River Erne.

The Tour Continues...


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