It’s been 60 years since Newry Canal operated commercially but if members of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland get their way, it will eventually be restored to something like its former glory, reconnecting Carlingford Lough with Lough Neagh. On your walk, you may even encounter members of the group going about their restoration work at weekends.
In the meantime, a restored 32-kilometre section of towpath, running from Portadown to Newry, has been given a new lease of life and is proving popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists. From a walker’s point of view, the route is relatively flat and undemanding, and can be completed in stages if desired.
Communities living along the towpath are alive to the canal’s tourism potential. There are visitor centres in Portadown and Scarva with wheelchair accessible cafes in both these locations, as well as in Newry. You may even be lucky enough to catch one of Scarva’s Sunday afternoon band concerts (seasonal) when you’re passing through. There is a volunteer-run interpretative centre at Acton Lake, and the countryside around Lough Shark, near Poyntzpass, is a haven for wildlife. A series of specially commissioned art pieces along the way reflect the canal’s former role. Please note that this is a shared use path and can be busy at times.