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Kayaking the River Shannon in August 2007 (updated footage)

Submitted by on May 3, 2010 – 12:33 pm16 Comments

At the entrance to Lough Allen

We originally blogged this trip using WordPress and making updates from the river using Twitter.  However, having modified and updated our website, we have decided also to rearrange the presentation of our trip down the Shannon in August 2007.  The trip is now arranged in chronological order, but we have not changed the content in any other way.  See also the map of our route on Google Maps and an Interview with Russ by Tom MacSweeney on RTE’s Seascapes programme.

Sunday 5th August 2007

updates from the river

  • Just leaving the shannon pot having taken some photos.. Back to Dowra to launch the boats.. #
  • Just pulled the kayaks up onto a little beach on Inisfale island.-its beautiful.. Good progress after hairy start in Dowra.. Lough allen … #
  • Got camp fire going in fire bowl just now.. Lovely.. #
  • Up Leitrim! naked skinny dipping couple just strolled by our campsite at the waters edge.. #
  • Planning on breaking camp tomorrow at eleven.. Night night.. #

Monday 6th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Just pulled up in leitrim village for a bottle of cold beer and to get some more water.. Been luckY with the weather sunny so far.. #
  • Just pulled up to the rowing club boathouse in carrick-on-shannon.. Leaving the boats here tonight.. And having hot showers thanks to th … #
  • Thanks to mark at the rowing club.. #

Day one and Two

This is a summary, we will be fully updating all these posts when we get back. We wont have enough time to add a lot of detail during the trip. We are all taking lots of photos and keeping diaries so hopefully we’ll have a lot of stuff to go up when we get back.

We finally left Dowra around 3:30 pm and the first several kilometres was a little hairy with the river in flood and a quite overgrown with lots of trees overhanging the water and a lot of submerged branches also.

Dowra Our Starting Point

Russ’s dad (who kindly ferried us to our starting point) commented as we were getting into the boats ” I thought ye were fit, ye look like three buddahs getting into those boats”. Hmm too much fast food in the run up to our departure perhaps..en route to Lough Allen we saw two or three huge dragonflys hovering over the water.

Anyway we finally reached some wider water and were underway. Got to Lough Allen and pulled over to take some photos:

Entering Lough Allen

It was quite calm and we made good time going straight across.Landed on Inisfail Island and made camp.

Boats on Inisfail

We lit a big campfire and settled in for the evening, full updates to follow. We could hear some thumping music in the background, we found out later from a young Lock-keeper in Drumleague that there was a music festival in Arigna with loads of LA djs playing. Quiet evening listening to music and chatting at one stage a skinnydipping couple strolled passed at the waters edge (it was a warm evening..)

Broke camp today at around 12pm and made good progress to Carrick on Shannon, en route we stopped in Letrim village for a bowl of soup and beer.. lots of detail to follow.

Typing this in a net cafe in Carrick, we are spending this evening in Carrick Rowing Club who kindly offered to let us stay and house our boats there for the evening.. thanks to all at the club.. we’re off for some food now and maybe a pint or two of Guinness, will keep posting updates on the update panel and will give more comprehensive updates when we can..

The Camp

Tuesday 7th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Russ was interviewed by kclr this afternoon.. Left carrick-on-shannon after three.. #
  • Just paddled into jamestown for a look around and maybe get something to eat.. #
  • Only two bars in jamestown the arch bar and kenoys both closed.. No one about here at all back to the boats.. #
  • Arrived at our campsite for the evening on shore of lough Boderg.. Had a bbq with some burgers and sausages we bought in carrick-on-shan … #
  • Was a long day paddling all very tired and stiff now.. #
  • Planning on heading to the tents shortly.. Campfire starting to burn down.. Lovely evening.. Saw a shooting star just now.. Make a wish.. #

Wednesday 8th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Just boiling up some water for coffee and maybe some pasta for breakfast.. We are out of bread.. #
  • Just about to launch the boats.. Sunny day so far. Might stop to look around Roosky then on to Tarmonbarry.. #
  • Just leaving Roosky having bought some snacks.. Bit of a dishevelled place.. Bins overflowing rusting bridge.. On to Tarmonbarry.. #
  • But the lovely lock keeper at Roosky Eimear Brown made up for it and gave us a donation too.. #
  • Arrived at tarmonbarry just now.. Getting something to eat and taking a break for an hour and a half or two hours.. #
  • Just had nice meal in Keenans Tarmonbarry, energy for out final two hour paddling today.. Leaving now.-on to Lanesborough.. #
  • Just made camp on an island on the shore of lough Ree.. Set up tents going to have some soup now.. Beautiful view sun just going down.. #
  • Made over thirty km today.. All quite tired and sore.. Going to collect some wood for the fire bowl and a warming fire.. #
  • Not much wood around so fire burning out.. Heading to tents now.. Feels a very cold night.. Looking forward to warm sleeping bags.. Good … #
  • Goodnight.. #
  • Just heading to tents now looking forward to curling up in bag.. Wont be same without you .. Night night xx #
  • Oops.. That last one for my girlfriend.. sorry.. technology.. Huh? :-) night again.. #

Thursday 9th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Sausages and coffee this morning on the stove.. Luxury.. It rained over night.. Very grey sky today.. #
  • Lough Ree looks very choppy today.. It will be hard work we think.. #
  • We alloted two days to get across lough ree .. Looks like we will need them.. Rain has started again.. Just having coffee.. #
  • Planning to launch the boats at twelve.. #
  • Raining again.. Just about to have some coffee then pack the boats.. #
  • For an hour a rest very choppy two foot waves and headwind this morning .. Slow progress.. Second leg was much calmer and less windy.. #
  • Arrived at our camp for the night on shores of lough Ree. Think we have twelve km of the lough left to do tomorrow.. Stopped at Portrunny #
  • Campfire going rice on the boil.. Tarpaulin up against the rain.. #
  • Just listening to 1 giant leap, by our fire.. Great record.. Peaceful night now the rain has stopped.. #

Friday 10th August 2007

  • Coffee on again.. Didn’t rain last night so managed to dry all of our gear-weather better than yesterday morning too. Headwind there though. #
  • Sitting around the rekindled fire making notes in our journals.. Recording the trip. Will set out on water at 1 pm. 3 hour paddle to Athlone #
  • Packing boats now.. Heading to pinnacle island apparently the very centre of Ireland.. #
  • Arrived at Athlone.. The boat club are kindly housing our kayaks for the evening.. #

Saturday 11th August 2007

Days 3-6

Under the Bridge in Carrick-On-Shannon
The Lads at Carrick-On-Shannon

Day 3 Woke in Carrick on Shannon and had a good breakfast at the Bush Hotel before setting out again. Just before we launched the boats Russ was interviewed by telephone for Kilkenny Carlow Local Radio (KCLR)

Crusiers Moored in Carrick-On-Shannon
Crusiers Moored in Carrick-On-Shannon

Fortification at Jamestown
Fortification at Jamestown

We headed to Jamestown, founded in the 17th Century as a military garrison during the reign of King James I of England. Its location was selected to guard the important crossing points of the Shannon at Drumsna and Jamestown. We were hoping to get a bowl of soup here and maybe a pint but the towns two pubs were closed and there was no one about at all.

Waiting to Enter Albert Lock
Waiting to Enter Albert Lock

We moved on towards and through Albert Lock where we shared the lock with several large Crusiers and got chatting to their occupants.

Our Campsite on the Shores of Lough Boderg
Our Campsite on the Shores of Lough Boderg

From there onward to Lough Boderg where we paddled around a few islands looking for a suitable campsite, most of the islands looked too marshy so we eventually settled on a site on the mainland shore where we setup camp for the night. We setup up our ‘Grilliput’ portable BBQ and enjoyed a barbeque of some burgers sausages and steaks we picked up in Carrick-On-Shannon.

Next Day after pasta and coffee we had a long days paddling (35KM in the end) first to Roosky where we pulled up for some supplies. At Roosky lock the lovely lock keeper Eimear Brown chatted to us for a while and gave us a donation.

Paddling in the Sunshine
Paddling in the Sunshine

Making Good progress..
Making Good progress..

Next stop was Tarmonbarry where we had a nice lunch in Keenans and stocked up on water and some more food for our evening camping meal. From Tarmonbarry on to Lanesborough, passing under the railway bridge and past the power station en route. We actually paddled through the town and pulled up on an island about a kilometre out of town where we setup camp on the shore of Lough Ree.

Campfire on one of the Islands
Campfire on one of the Islands

Another camp BBQ with some rice for supper, this was our smallest campsite so far as the island was quite marshy and we found only a small area suitable for pitching tents.

Next morning we woke to see that Lough Ree was looking very choppy and that the weather had definitely turned. There was a 2-3 foot swell, according to met.ie (accessed via WAP) it was force 4-5. We found this to be quite challenging but we made it to Portrunny despite the swell, strong headwind and poor visibility.
Rough Weather on Lough Ree
Rough Weather on Lough Ree

More Rough Weather on the Lough
More Rough Weather on the Lough

Three Kayaks on Lough Ree
Three Kayaks on Lough Ree

In Portrunny we stopped and Vincent (Shannon View Lounge) opened his pub for us to give us a hot whiskey and some sandwiches. When we set out again about one and a half later the wind had died down and conditions on the Lough had improved considerably.

We made much better progress to St.Johns Wood, where once again we pulled up on the Lake Shore and made camp. All in all we made only 18KM this day though it felt much harder than the previous day (35KM).

Our Campsite Near St.Johns Wood
Our Campsite Near St.Johns Wood

The next morning after coffee and couscous for breakfast (running low on supplies)- it was lovely by the way..we headed out again around 12 and paddled on in search of Pinnacle Island, which is reputed to be the very centre of Ireland, however in the end we couldn’t find it, we took a diversion instead to the Hodson Bay Hotel to eat as we were all ravenous at this stage. On the shore by the Hodson bay Rod from Glassin made a donation to the fund and wished us well on the rest of our journey.

Pulling into Athlone..equipment on the deck
Pulling into Athlone..equipment on the deck

On from Hodson Bay we paddled into Athlone where Athlone Boat Club kindly housed our kayaks for us, and off for some more grub and our first shower in some time…

We made it to Athlone 140KM Down 140KM to go..
We made it to Athlone 140KM Down 140KM to go..

Arriving at Athlone we have paddled 140 KMs it marks our halfway point and we have the same length ahead of us to Limerick. Please remember that we are hoping this journey will raise vital funds for the Irish Cancer Society, so if you haven’t made a donation already please consider doing so.. click on our ‘about‘ page for more information.

Thats all for now. we will continue to send updates as we progress along and more detail to follow after our trip.

Russ Catching supper in Athlone :-)
Russ Catching supper in Athlone

Sunday 12th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Just packing up the boats. About to set out.. Torrential rain coming down-next stop Clonmacnoise.. #
  • Just arrived at clonmacnoise.. Going for a look around.. #
  • Back to kayaks and on to Shannonbridge where we will camp for the night.. #
  • Just pulled into Shannon Bridge for a quick look around.. #
  • Just arrived at shannon harbour. 30 km south of athlone.. Pitched tents just before darkness fell.. #
  • shannon harbour is the terminus of the grand canal.. Its about half an hour by kayak to Banagher in the morning we reckon. #
  • Having pint in Guinan’s harbour bar.. Wondering what to do about food.. #

Monday 13th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Just packing up the kayaks. Hoping to make good progress early today as the forecast is poor for the afternoon.. Next stop Banagher.. #
  • Just pulled into Banagher.. Hoping to get breakfast here.. This is where the TV series Pure Mule was filmed.. #
  • Thanks to Carina in the tourist office for her assistance for putting up a poster and making a donation.. #
  • Setting out again.. 26Km to go to Terryglass. Though we plan to take a break halfway if possible.. #
  • Just stopped in Portumna to stretch our legs .. 4Km from here to Terryglass #
  • Just arrived in Terryglass our final destination today.. Hauled the kayaks ashore.. Unpacking now.. #
  • Its a lovely evening here but the forecast for tomorrow is poor.. If it is correct we might have to stop here tomorrow if its good we ca … #
  • Carry on… #
  • We are camping right beside St. Augh’s eye well if you want to google it.? Nice evening still.. #
  • Campfire burning down.. Heading to the tents shortly.. Goodnight.. #

Tuesday 14th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Just up having breakfast again having had a good long sleep after two long days. #
  • Strong winds on the lough.. But according to met.ie they should be at our backs as we travel down the lake.. We are considering out options #
  • Waiting for the wind to die down a little.. We will set out at 4pm destination Dromineer approximately 20km.. #
  • Quite windy visibility poor and two of us have injured wrists from all the paddling-we are going to stay put this evening and set out early. #
  • We plan to be on the water at ten am tomorrow.. #
  • Rain pouring down here.. Great to have the tarpaulin up or we’d be confined to our tents.. #
  • Very heavy rain now and quite cold.. Going to get a fire going soon.. #
  • Very heavy rain. Will be good test of the tents. We are all heading to them now as no more firewood and very heavy rain and cold temp,night. #

Wednesday 15th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Just packing kayaks again.. Very windy today too but much brighter lake looks rough though.. #
  • About to set out. Very strong winds. According to met-ie they should be mostly at our backs but doesn’t seem that way standing on the shore. #
  • We’ll see how we go.. #
  • Just arrived in Dromineer.. Lough was quite tough big swell and waves.. Looking around the town now.. #

Thursday 16th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Thanks to Declan Collison at Lough Derg House in Dromineer for his advice and assistance and for his contribution to the fund.. #
  • Looks like better weather on the Lough today. Setting out within the hour for Garrykennedy.. #
  • Arrived at Garrykennedy one and a half hour paddle through strong headwind and biggest waves we have seen so far. 4-5 foot at times.. #
  • Its a beautiful little village.. Having some soup in Larkin’s pub.. Then about another hour of big swell before we hit sheltered passage.. #
  • Just leaving Garrykennedy now.. Next stop Killaloe.. Weather has improved but still not great.. We hope to be in Killaloe in 2.5 hours or so #
  • Well we got around parker point.this was the most challenging section we have encountered. Taking a rest on a shore about 5km from killaloe #
  • Just arrived in Killaloe.. Kayaks out of the water and into dry clothes.. #
  • Tough passage past parkers point on lough Derg.. Our most challenging section to date. Glad to be back on dry land. #
  • Some of these updates in wrong order.. Had some problems with twitter.. In Killaloe now anyhow. Booked through Ardnacrusha at 2pm tomorrow. #

Friday 17th August 2007

updates from the river:

  • Rainy morning in killaloe.. Packing up shortly.. We are due to be at Ardnacrusha at two pm.. Apparently the turbines are spinning at the mo. #
  • Which makes things a bit more turbulent but should also aid us on our run into Limerick as there will be a stronger flow.. #
  • Just arrived in Limerick! Journeys end!! Hard work but an amazing experience.. Check this site soon for updates on last leg of our journey #
  • The fund raising site remains open for two more months.. And if you have pledged money on completion..we’re finished.. Thank you all.. #
  • Apparently there will be a piece about our journey on Seascapes on RTE Radio one at eight thirty this evening.. #

Monday 20th August 2007

updates from the river:

Thanks to Mike Kiely at Athlunkard Boat Club in Limerick for housing our boats on Friday night.. #

Updates on our journey coming soon..

Paddling into killaloe

Paddling into Killaloe on the penultimate day of our journey

Back to reality.. over the next few days we will be trawling through the hundreds of photos and many video clips we have taken over the past two weeks and choosing the best and most interesting ones for the site. During our trip we all kept detailed journals content from which we will have here also. In the meantime here is a podcast of the RTE Radio One Show Seascapes , the piece about our journey is in the last 5 minutes or so of the show..

Wednesday 22nd August 2007

Days 7-12

Sunday 12 August 2007

A high cross at Clonmacnoise

High Cross at Clonmacnoise

We set out from Athlone in the rain 140KM down and 140 KM to go.. paddling on towards our next stop Clonmacnoise.Clonmacnoise was built in 545 by Saint Ciarán at the point where the major east-west land route through the bogs of central Ireland along the Eiscir Riada, an esker or moraine left by the receding glaciers of the last ice age crossed the River Shannon. Saint Ciarán had been educated by Saint Diarmuid of Clonard and Saint Finian.

Shortly after his arrival, Ciarán met Diarmait mac Cerbaill who helped him build the first church — a small wooden structure and the first of many small churches to be clustered on the site. Diarmuid was to claim the title of the first Christian High King of Ireland.

Ciaran died about one year later of the yellow plague; he was in his early thirties.

We pulled the kayaks up at a jetty by the monastery hopped out and up the path to the Interpretive centre, paid in and wandered around taking some photos. It was quite a surreal experience for me wandering around Clonmacnoise in a wetsuit, attracting some strange stares. During a spell of torrential rain one American visitor commented to me as he ran for cover “I see you dressed for the weather..” There was an excellent AV presentation in the centre. Overall a very interesting spot.

McGyver/Tom Crean a.k.a Adrian…

Pulling into Shannon Harbour
Pulling into Shannon Harbour

Back to the kayaks and our next stop turned out to be Shannon Bridge, where we stopped for a quick look around . Bought some supplies in Kileen’s Old style bar/shop, a cool interesting place. From Shannonbridge we set out again hoping to find a secluded camping spot on the way to Shannon Harbour however it started to get dark and we had no choice but to pull in to Shannon Harbour and camp on the shore by the terminus of the Grand Canal, surrounded by Cruisers that had pulled up for the night.

Our campsite at Shannon Harbour
Our tents at Shannon Harbour

We setup the tents for the night and headed off in search of some food and maybe a drink as there was nowhere for us to make a campfire for warmth. After a 10 minute walk we arrived at Guinan’s Harbour bar, where we had a drink but unfortunately they didn’t serve food. In the end we had a few drinks, planned our journey for the next day and headed back to the tents.

Monday 13th August 2007

packed up the Kayaks quite early and were on the water by around 10am next stop, Banagher. Banagher is probably most famous in recent times for being the location of the TV series ‘Pure Mule‘ we found it to be a nice friendly town. We had a lovely full Irish Breakfast in ‘Heidi’s Coffee Shop’ which was eagerly devoured following a long break since our last meal. Setting out again we headed towards Terryglass.

Our Campsite at Terryglass
Our Campsite at Terryglass

Launching Boat at Portumna
Adrian helping Mark Launch following break at Portumna

This was quite a long paddle and we had to stop at Portumna for about 15 mins to strech our legs. From Portumna it was another 4KM across Lough Derg to Terryglass where we pulled the boats up around 4:30pm our earliest arrival to date. We made camp underneath some trees beside St.Augh’s Eye Well. A short walk into Terryglass village led us to the Derg Inn for a delicious dinner and Paddy’s Pub afterward for a nightcap. Back to the tents and set a campfire for the evening. When it burned out we headed to the tents.
Route Planning at Camp Terryglass
Route Planning at Camp Terryglass

Tuesday 14th August 2007

Poor visibility and strong winds led us to decide at 4pm to stay put and to take to the water early the next morning. Spent the day reading and enjoying not having to paddle for 4-5 hours..

Wednesday 15th August 2007

Kayaks pulled up in Dromineer
Kayaks Pulled up in Dromineer

Packed the Kayaks around 10:30 following breakfast and headed out onto Lough Derg. The visibility was much better but unfortunately the wind seemed stronger. It was a tough paddle through a big swell but we eventually made it to Dromineer, Russ and Adrian had both at this stage developed tendinitis due to the repetitive action of paddling for hours every day, this made the latter part of the journey more challenging.

Dromineer is a small town based around a couple of marina’s a public one and a yacht club. There was no suitable camping area in the vicinity so we stayed in some budget accommodation by the Water’s edge, Lough Derg House, which was clean and warm and a nice change from our tented accommodation. Thanks again to Declan Collison the proprietor for his assistance and advice.

We had a nice meal in The Whiskey still Pub and then retired to our room for the evening.

Thursday 16th August 2007

The weather looked a little better today than that of the previous evening. However now we had something new to worry about.. over the course of this morning each of us had been warned at least once to expect very rough conditions going around Parker Point, the deepest part of the lake and to be very careful. Before approaching Parker point however our first destination was Garrykennedy. En Route to Garrykennedy we had to steer around and then with careful timing, through a yacht race, part of the Lough Derg Yacht Club Regatta taking place today.

Larkin's Pub in Garrykennedy
Larkins Pub in Garrykennedy

A delightful picturesque spot, Garrykennedy has three harbours. The old, high walled stone harbour is very pretty and in a new harbour there are some floating jetties which we pulled in and climbed out onto, tying the boats up here. We went into Larkins pub for a rest and some soup, gathering our energy ready to tackle Parker Point.

We were in the harbour crouching down behind a low wall out of the howling wind for some time waiting for the weather to change for the better, during which time we were informed once more about the dangers of Parkers Point. Eventually, feeling pretty sure the weather was not going to improve we set out again.

Moving through some rocks before setting out..
Moving through some rocks before setting out

In the passage leading up to and around Parker Point we faced the most difficult conditions of our whole journey. we encountered 4-5 foot high waves breaking onto, over and around the kayaks, huge swell and all of this wind-blown and coming at us in seemingly random directions. we were pretty sure if any of us came out of the kayaks a helicopter or lifeboat would probably be the next craft we stepped into. This passage lasted a very tiring one and a half hours after which we pulled into the shore on a tiny stretch of land to rest for a while and have something warm to drink before paddling on towards Killaloe.

Resting after Parker Point
Our rest site having gotten past Parker Point

A couple of hours later we finally left Lough Derg behind us and paddled into the river again at Killaloe. It was getting dark at this stage and camping options seemed limited. In the end we decided to camp in the small grounds of the Tourist office and to pack up early in the morning before it opened. A friend of ours met us here and took some photos of the three kayaks as we came in to the town. Again, with no possibility of a campfire and no real privacy for our campsite we set out in search of food and ended up in the only place still open near the river, a small Chinese restaurant.
Paddling into killaloe
Paddling into Killaloe

Heading back to the tents for the night we all went to sleep. We were woken at around 3:30 am by a couple alternately arguing and making up. When they investigated the tents and found them occupied however, they didn’t hang around too much longer..

Friday 17th August 2007

The next morning we packed the Kayaks in the rain and headed off to get some breakfast on the waterfront. Read the paper and were on the water by 11:45am.

Under the bridge in Killaloe and onto the river again. We were surprised again to see a big swell and wind blown waves on the water and hoped they wouldn’t persist all the way to Ardnacrusha, in the end they calmed down after 2KM or so. We were paddling into a strong headwind aiming to be at Parteen Weir at 12:30pm and Ardnacrusha at 2pm. We made it to Parteen around 12:45 and into the headrace towards Ardnacrusha.

Approaching Ardnacrusha
Rafting together before approaching Ardnacrusha

The headwind slowed us down a lot forcing us to phone ahead to Ardnacrusha and tell them we were not going to be there at 2pm as planned but more likely it would be 2:30pm. Thankfully, they were fine with this.
In the lock at Ardnacrusha
Inside Lock at Ardnacrusha

We arrived more or less at 2:30 and the lock was open for us allowing us to paddle straight in. At Ardnacrusha there are two locks in series giving a combined drop of over 30 Meters, this was an amazing experience, though cold and damp too..

The turbines at Ardnacrusha were running so when we got out the far side and rejoined the river proper there was an extremely strong flow, with eddies and whirlpools pushing us in the direction of Limerick City. Just at the junction with the river Russ and Mark both had to paddle hard to avoid getting sucked into some low hanging branches over the water.

Paddling on we arrived into Limerick and diverted to the
Abbey River where Athlunkard Boat Club have their boathouse and where they kindly allowed us to store our Kayaks for the evening. As we had not been sure of our arrival time there was no one here to greet us but we had our own small celebration before others started to arrive.

Journeys end. Shortly after pulling up the boats Russ was interviewed for Seascapes on RTE Radio 1 to be broadcast later this evening. We were interviewed By KCLR, MWR, Clare FM and RTE Radio 1 in the end..

Arrival in Limerick
The Men of Aran have arrived!!

To date we have raised over 4,100 Euro for the Irish Cancer Society.

This is an interim update and we are currently organising our diaries and over 700 photos and videos into some sort of structure that we will put online here as a resource for others that may be interested in undertaking a similar journey. Thanks again to all who have donated. The fundraising site remains open until 7th October 2007.

We also posted a short piece on August 2nd 2007 on packing the Kayaks for the trip

Well we finally got down to loading up the Kayaks. A simple exercise in defying the laws of physics really. We are each carrying our own gear and some communal gear. Full lists are provided below. We are planning on sharing out the food as evenly as possible between the boats and so the food is not listed.
All of the boats and all of the cargo
All of the boats and all of the cargo

We hope we have everything we need but if not we will discover it soon enough. We’re never going to be too far from civilization but we want to be as self sufficient as possible nonetheless.

All this in one Kayak
Some of the contents of one of the boats

We will be meeting friends in Athlone and will have an opportunity to get some new clothes and to replace any damaged or forgotten items there.

Some of Adrian's Inventory
Some more cargo..for the tardis-like hold..

We are planning on providing a more detailed inventory when we get back with information on how the gear performed and any suggestions we have on what to bring/not to bring and how we found the gear to use etc.

In the meantime here are our Kayak camping inventory lists in Acrobat (.pdf) format.

Mark’s List 14 KB .pdf

Adrian’s List 12KB .pdf

Russ’s List 12KB .pdf

Oh yeah, and we will all be carrying several books for those quiet evenings by the fire…

All the packing yesterday took much longer than we had planned and so we didn’t get to go out onto the river We now plan to head out this evening, pack the Kayaks at the river and do some training with the fully laden Kayaks’, photos to follow tomorrow..

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thanks to ymotamusic for the video soundtrack.

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  • Bob Coulter says:

    Hi, im lookin to paddle the lengh of the River Shannon
    with a work mate or two, im really askin if u have any
    pointers for us that u may have encountered on ur journey.
    ie Hazards re navigation ect and indeed any advantages.
    Distances covered each day , camping facilities,
    best maps indeed anything that might help us on our way.

    Yours in Sport Bob.

  • Mark says:

    Hi Bob,

    good luck on your trip…

    we used the Waterways Ireland navigational charts for the Shannon, available here: http://shop.iwai.ie/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=22&products_id=35

    We also found the ‘Shell Guide to the Shannon’ a useful guide. http://www.iwai.ie/maps/shannon/guide/index.php3

    We tried to camp ‘in the wilderness’ so to speak and avoided campsites for the entire route, we prefered to camp on Islands if we could. We carried everything we needed in the kayaks.

    We found some of the lakes quite rough and the passage at Parker point on Lough Derg was the most rough passage we had during the entire trip.

    Also coming out of the lock at Ardacrusha, if the river is full you need to start paddling pretty strongly toward the middle of the river in order to avoid getting pulled under the undergrowth just outside of the weir..

    I suppose the main thing is not to lose concentration when the current is strong and there are obstructions you could be pulled into (undergrowth, moored boats, piers, bridge piers etc.) it could be quite difficult to extricate yourself from some situations as the flow can be very powerful…

    Our daily distances varied but we were probably kayaking between 4 and six hours per day. We were not looking to make it in record time but to really enjoy the trip and see any interesting sights along the way.

    I hope this helps..


  • John Carolan says:

    Hi Mark,
    I too will be making the trip some time this summer. I found your blog very interesting and the photographs very inspiring. I tried clicking on the kayak camping inventory but the link appears to be broken. Is there anyway you could possibly forward them on to me. I would be very greatful.

    All the best.


  • Ed says:

    Hi Guys,
    Going through the posts of your deadly trip,I was wondering what was your reasoning of going through Ardnacrusha, rather than staying on the river at Parteen Wier and on into O’Briens Bridge and Castleconnel – alot more senic than looking at the high banks of the canal!!

  • russ says:

    Hi Ed,

    No particular reason we just wanted the experience of going through it and it was definately worth it though it was a bit fast flowing on the other side

  • Mark says:

    I think we were also advised that water level on the natural course of the river was a bit low and might have be a bit scrappy for fully laden sea kayaks… Mark

  • Sean says:

    Hey Mark,

    Looks like a great trip. Some friends and I are hoping to do a section of it ourselves next month and your blog is a great source of information, thanks. Just wondering what distances you planned to cover each day…we only have 3 (maybe 4 days) so not sure yet what section would work best for this timescale? Also, I failed to find your route map on Googlmaps, would you mind sending/posting a link?



  • DAn says:

    where did you get the kayaks ? did you hire them?

  • mark says:

    Hi Dan,

    sorry for the delay in replying, your comment was mistakenly stopped by our spam filter. No, we used our own equipment but there are a number of companies that hire out kayaks and canoes. The IWAI has some links to hire companies… http://www.iwai.ie/rentals/rentforaday.html

  • Hi guys,
    I did the same trip in 2008 in a 40yr old wooden framed canoe that my father built. I broke the golden rule, I went alone. While it was the best holiday I have had in a while I would not recommend that anyone do the same as me in going alone. I just wanted to do it in memory of my dad on his tenth anniversary, brilliant trip. I met that lock keeper from Rooskey, Eimear Brown, she covered the trip on a single skull, she had a good backup crew and raised a hell of a lot of money for an orphenage in Cambodia. I hope to do the trip again but next time I’ll share it. Some brilliant wild life to be seen at 5am in the mornings(my starting time each morning). Any way thats enough guff from me, my advice for anyone thinking of doing this trip is, Plan well, be safe, fly repellant, fire and dry clothes,go for it don’t have regrets. oh and enjoy. Great presentation guys, keep in by the wall and mind the nettles. Paddle like a divil, yours in sport, Seamus K

  • Mark says:

    thanks Seamus.. sounds like an amazing trip for you too… especially in such a special canoe.. we hope to do it again sometime too.. let us know if you are doing it again, perhaps you could share your experiences here too?


  • admin says:

    Our inventories had gone missing for a while. but the lists are available for download again at the links above.. Mark

  • George Buckingham says:

    thanks for this excellent summary of your trip. I found it a great help when planning my own trip earlier this month from Leitrim Village to Banagher. I calculated that as around 83 miles which took 7 days of paddling around 3-4 hours a day. I cheated a bit because I had a support team in a Cabin Cruiser – I found there is a limit to how much wine can be carried in a kayak!
    Anyway, I would highly recommend the Shannon – particularly under your own steam – beautiful scenery, loads of history, great pubs, utterly memorable.

  • Pete Flynn says:

    I am planning a solo trip from Dromod north or Roosky to Killaloe – about 100 miles

    I plan on stopping near Lanesborough, Hodson Bay (bottom of Loch Allen), Shannon Bridge, Portland Island (in middle of river north of Loch Derg) Williamstown Harbour on Lock Derg and finishing at Killaloe. I plan on skirting the western shore of Derg to avoid the water around Parker Point which caught yous out.

    A reckon on about 4-5 hours a day to cover 16 miles and have a day spare in my itetinerary to allow for poor weather. I am a fairly experienced qualified level 3 / level 4 sea kayaker.

    Any tips you would have – good places to explore, where to get drinkable water etc.
    (I believe, having recently boated on the shannon that water fill-up points are good to drink from…)

    Do you know if channel 16 VHF is monitored on the Lochs Derg and Allen?
    Any particularly rough water? Any decent currents take advantage of or avoid if the wind is against them?

    Thanks in advance for your advice :-)

    Pete Flynn

  • PETER says:

    Hi there, well done on your trip. Am considering doing same trip in my fibre glass 18 foot row boat (without engine)…maybe a couple of days at a time over the summer. My only experience over the years has been on calm midland lakes.

    Is this feasible taking into accounts locks and water levels?

    Is it feasible in the early stretches taking into account the width of the river from a rowing perspective?

    Is it a very dangerous project for someone of little experience ( naturally conventional safety devices will be utilised, and of course all waterborne projects have an inherent risk ). And I will get some river experience in a row boat before I undertake it.

    You guys might have a vague idea of whether this is a reasonably manageable undertaking for someone of limited skill and experience?

    Thanks and look forward to hearing from you


  • Nial says:

    Impressive adventure. I think I might attempt a shorter version next summer. I maybe in touch.

    Keep up the good work.


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