Lough Neagh, County Down | County Antrim | County Armagh | County Tyrone | County Londonderry

Lough Neagh
Lough Neagh is a large freshwater lake situated in Northern Ireland, just twenty miles to the west of Belfast .The lake has an area of 151 square miles, enough for it to lay claim to the title of the largest lake in the British Isles. It is also big enough for it to rank among the forty largest lakes of Europe.

Lough Neagh is approximately twenty miles long and nine miles wide. It is very shallow around the margins and the average depth in the main body of the lake is around 30 ft. At its deepest point the lough is approximately 80 ft deep. The lake has several islands in it. These are Coney Island, Coney Island Flat, Croaghan Flat, Derrywarragh Island, Padian, Ram's Island, Phil Roe's Flat and The Shallow Flat. The lake has a large catchement area that includes part of the Republic of Ireland, although over 90% of the 2827 square-mile catchement is in Northern Ireland. Indeed five of the six counties of Northern Ireland have shores on the Lough; Antrim, Armagh, Down, Londonderry and Tyrone. Towns and villages near the Lough include Antrim, Crumlin, Randalstown, Toomebridge, Ballyronan, Ballinderry, Moortown, Ardboe, Maghery, Lurgan and Magherafelt. A total of 43% of Northern Ireland's land mass drains into the lake. Lough Neagh flows northwards to the sea via the River Bann and, as one of its sources is the Upper Bann, the Lough can itself be considered a part of the River Bann.

The Lough is widely used for recreational and commercial activities. However, the lake is very exposed and can quickly become extremely rough in very windy conditions.The lake provides a source of fresh water for the Northern Ireland Water company. There have long been plans, but never yet put into action, to increase the amount of water drawn from the Lough via a new water treatment works to be sited at Hog Park Point.

Barges, called 'lighters', were used right up until the 1940s to transport coal over the lough and adjacent canals. Traditional working boats on Lough Neagh include wide-beamed 1621 ft clinker-built, sprit-rigged working boats and smaller flat-bottomed vessels known locally as 'cots' and 'flats'. Eel fishing has been a major industry in Lough Neagh for centuries. Today Lough Neagh eel fisheries export their eels to restaurants all over the world.

Lough Neagh attracts a large number and variety of birds to spend the winter or summer in the boglands and shores that surround the lake. These in turn bring in plenty of bird watchers to observe all the avian activity.

The Lough Neagh Discovery Centre is a popular local attraction. It enjoys a unique and beautiful setting on the edge of the Lough. Visitors to the centre can learn all about the history, the culture and wildlife in and around Lough Neagh

More British Natural features?

Other County Down Naturals

Slieve Donard
River Bann
Ards Peninsula
Holywood Hills
Mountains of Mourne
Strangford Lough

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