Base: Carrick-on-Shannon, Ireland
Boat Class: Carlow
Saturday 1 September
at Dublin Airport and met the transfer to the Shannon-Erne
Waterway. Transfer took just over 2 hours by coach. Arrived
at Carrick-on-Shannon at 4.30pm, very nice town with shops,
pubs and a lot of boats! The coach took us straight to the
Carrick Craft base (1 on map) where we were given classroom
instruction on how to manage locks, moor up and generally
look after the boat. We were taken to our boat, loaded with
our provisions and shown how to drive the boat by a friendly
Carrick Craft member of staff. After a familiarisation trip
down the river, we were handed the controls and told we were
free to leave! Make sure you feel comfortable with the boat
before you set off - the staff are always happy to answer
any questions. We were also given a mobile phone to call
the base in emergencies.
We took a Carlow class boat for a week from
Carrick-on-Shannon, so there were two choices of direction
- north towards the Shannon-Erne waterway (a recently renovated
waterway linking the Rivers Shannon and Erne) or south down
the Upper Shannon. We chose to head south as we wanted to
do as few locks as possible! Arrived at Jamestown (2 on map)
after a relaxing hour cruising and getting used to the boat
controls. Found a peaceful mooring just off Jamestown and
some friendly Germans helped us moor the boat.
Spent the evening relaxing in the local pub
10 minutes walk into the village from our mooring. There
was a more central mooring in the village, but it was rather
busy. We preferred our quieter mooring, although do take
a torch, as there is a big (muddy!) field to walk across
on the way to the pub.
Carrick-on-Shannon to Jamestown: 1 hour
Sunday 2nd September
Set off bright and early to get through the
lock in good time. Our first lock - so a bit nervous but
the lock keeper helped us throw the ropes round the bollards
and we waited for a couple more boats to arrive before the
lock was shut. Not scary at all, so that was a relief!
at Dromod marina (3 on map) to stock up on food, then carried
on to Roosky (4 on map) where there was a bigger lock. Once
again, everyone was helpful and we even began to enjoy the
locks! The River Shannon is quite wide, with navigation markers
to go through, but once you've worked it out, it's very simple
and good fun trying to find the next marker with the binoculars
Got used to the boat very quickly, as the Carlow
is quite small and easy to manoeuvre. It's the perfect boat
for a couple, with a nice roomy saloon and kitchen combined
and a separate bedroom and bathroom. It's customary to wave
at the boats you pass, so everything is really friendly and
you find yourself bumping into the same people at locks and
Roosky, we took a turning left down Camlin River, a very
small river, so we took it slowly and enjoyed the scenery.
Saw several herons standing quietly on the banks - they didn't
seem to even notice the boat going past! Arrived at Clondra
Harbour (5 on map) around 5pm where we stopped for the night.
Very pretty marina and village, with the usual friendly,
lively Irish pub just round the corner.
Jamestown to Dromod: 1 hour (1 lock)
Dromod to Clondra: 3-4 hours (1 lock)
Monday 3rd September
Headed south through Lough Ree. Very wide lake,
so had to look out for the navigation markers. Quite choppy,
as there was a bit of a breeze, but sticking to the edge
of the lake there wasn't a problem. Arrived at Athlone (6
on map) for lunch. Got a bit confused about which marina
to go to - for reference, don't go to the Jolly Mariner Marina,
it's a fair way out of town and looks a bit seedy, go to
the public marina which is further towards Athlone where
friendly staff watch your boat for you. Athlone is a pretty
town with all the facilities you need, supermarkets, pubs,
shops, chemists, so we stocked up (again!) and went back
to the boat.
north back up the Shannon and back into Lough Ree. Thought
we'd moor at a secluded harbour to the south of the Lough
but turned out to be a bit of a mistake. We had to cross
the Lough diagonally, so waves were hitting us from the side,
making the boat rock quite alarmingly. Managed to enter Killinure
Lough after a very rough half an hour and made our way towards
the marina. All looked to be private so we ended up mooring
on a jetty outside the Wineport Restaurant near Ballykeeran.
Very windy, and unfortunately we had to moor on the windward
side of the jetty as it was quite full. Spent a fairly rough
night being bounced around by the waves.
Clondra to Athlone: 3-4 hours (1 lock)
Athlone to Ballykeeran: 2 hours (less in good weather!)
Tuesday 4th September
up to find the boat covered in ducks, sheltering from the
wind! Escaped from the mooring and headed north back up Lough
Ree. Calmer now, so the return crossing was peaceful and
uneventful. Stopped at Lanesborough for lunch, weather was
lovely (in Ireland, in September!) so sunbathed on deck for
a while, then carried on up to Tarmonbarry where we moored
for the night.
Met some fellow boaters who recommended the
two pubs up the road, one serving food and one with Irish
music, so quite a lively night!
Ballykeeran to Lanesborough: 3 hours
Lanesborough to Tarmonbarry: 1 hour (1 lock)
Wednesday 5th September
on up the Shannon past Carrick and on to Leitrim. River very
nice in this area, a lot less wide, with more varied landscape.
Rained all day, but the boat was warm and dry so we were
ok. Arrived at Leitrim about 4pm to find the moorings completely
full, so turned round and found a very peaceful spot just
before the bridge. Did some more shopping (it's amazing how
much you eat!) and stocked up on beer for a pleasant evening.
Found a nice pub (Lock 17) for a drink and a game of pool,
then headed back to the boat for tea.
Tarmonbarry to Leitrim: 3-4 hours (2 locks)
Thursday 6th September
back downstream and turned off up the Boyle River towards
Lough Key. Very pretty, winding river with several nice places
to stop along the way. We wanted to get to the forest park
early, so we carried on past, through Clarendon Lock (the
nicest lock we went through) and into Lough Key.
Managed to find the moorings at the Forest
Park very easily, so moored up, made a picnic and set off
for a walk. Beautiful day, really warm and sunny, so enjoyed
strolling round the park. Recommend climbing to the top of
the tower on the hill - the view is amazing!
Had our picnic, did a bit of sunbathing (I'm
not joking!) and then headed back to the boat to make sure
we made the lock before 5pm. Locks are supposed to be open
until 8.30pm but it's safer to arrive early! Made our way
in the sun towards Cootehall, where we moored at the landing
space reserved for restaurant patrons. So naturally, we thought
we'd better eat in the restaurant! Wonderful food and reasonably
priced, so we ate rather a lot then rolled back to the boat
for the night.
Leitrim to Lough Key Forest Park: 3 hours (1 lock)
Lough Key Forest Park to Cootehall: 1 hour (1 lock)
Friday 7th September
such a nice day - woke to the sound of rain and wind! Didn't
rush to set off as we didn't have to be back at the Carrick
base until late afternoon. Cruised leisurely back to Carrick
where the boat was checked over and refuelled. Discovered
our transfers back to Dublin Airport left at 4am so decided
to get an early night! Relaxed on the boat at the marina
and watched people bringing their boats back after their
holidays. Everyone we spoke to had enjoyed their holiday,
one German party said it was their seventh time on the Shannon
and they enjoy it more each time! Interesting mix of nationalities,
with Americans, English, French and Germans.
Cootehall to Carrick-on-Shannon: 1 hour
Saturday 8 September
Back to the airport for transfers and arrived
back home at 11am. Thoroughly enjoyed the holiday, we liked
the boat, the towns we stopped at were really nice and even
the locks became quite enjoyable! Carrick Craft did everything
they could to make our holiday go smoothly, so we had a trouble
free, relaxing week in Ireland.