River Bann Heritage Tour

River Bann Tour

This scenic River Bann tour begins where the Lower River Bann flows from Lough Neagh at the historic village of Toome, an area of Mesolithic importance. During this tour you will discover the historic significance of this river, its rich heritage and importance for the people who live and have lived alongside it.

Lock-Keeper’s Cottage

Your Skipper will greet you at the Lock-Keeper’s Cottage on Toome Canal, a Waterways Heritage Centre, cafe and community hub.  Here your Skipper will conduct a safety briefing and fit you with your lifejacket. If you wish to bring a picnic you can order ‘Treat Boxes’ from the Lock Keeper’s Cottage in advance.


You will cruise under two bridges at Toome; the old Toome bridge commissioned by Lord O’Neill in 1792, and the new iconic blue bridge constructed in 2004.  Between the two bridges sits the largest commercial Eel Fishery in Europe.  It remains a prominent feature on the River Bann and is a significant part of River Bann and Lough Neagh heritage.

Lough Beg

Going under the blue bridge at Toome and around the bend you will glide into the mostly unseen Lough Beg, a stunning wildlife reserve.  In the middle of this sanctuary rests Church Island, where there is a church without a spire and a spire without a church.  Immortalised in Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Strand at Lough Beg”:

“Where you weren’t known and far from what you knew:
The lowland clays and waters of Lough Beg,
Church Island’s spire, its soft treeline of yew”.

Listen and watch for the celebrated Whooping Swans of Lough Beg who grace us with their presence year after year.  Journeying further along the River Bann the tranquil atmosphere is enhanced by its remote location far from roads and civilisation.  This River Bann tour is truly off the beaten track.


Your group can choose to disembark at either the ancient forest of Portglenone or at the Wild Duck Pub & Restaurant in the village of Portglenone.  Your Skipper will wait while you explore, enjoy a picnic or dine at the Wild Duck.  The return journey along the River Bann gives you a chance to experience a little speed on some stretches of the river before disembarking at the Lock-Keeper’s Cottage.

Our Skippers, Tim and Ben, are OCN Accredited Tour Guides who have a passion for our local land and water, its history, heritage and wildlife.  Born and still living beside Lough Beg and the River Bann, they have been conducting tours here for ten years and continue to enhance their knowledge of this historically rich area.

  • Tour min time: 3 hours
  • Private Charters Only
  • Price: £320 for up to 8 passengers and £40pp for more than 8
  • Great for: Sight-seeing, family day out, adventurers, photographers, historians, video producers, team building

Make a day of it – Click here for some itinerary ideas for other things to do in or near Toome

“Had an amazing time today with Tim and Cathal on a fantastic return boat trip from Toome to Portglenone with a stop for lunch at the Wild Duck. Tim was very informative ,funny and friendly. We saw lots of wildlife and learnt a lot about the history and fishing industries of the lough and river Bann. Thanks so much Tim.”

Elizabeth W.

“My group of 14 friends had an amazing trip with Abhainn Cruises. From Toome Canal to Portglenone, we enjoyed the views and heard some historic facts about the waterway & the region. The pier just outside the Wild Duck provided a convenient lunch stop before our return trip to Toome. We can highly recommend Abhainn Cruises for a fun, interesting and well organised boat trip with lots of options to suit any party.”

Catherine C.

“Me and my family had a great day, amazing sights right on our doorstep. Tim was full of local knowledge and had plenty of craic too. Highly recommend this for a fun and different day out.”

F. Martin

“Great people and a great cruise, will be back next year.”

Terry F.

+44 (0) 7845 370231

call or text Lynn to book or make enquiries

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