Many of our River Bann and Lough Neagh tours begin in the small village of Toome, founded on the north western shores of Lough Neagh where the Lower Bann flows from Lough Neagh to the sea. Toome enjoys a central location in Northern Ireland and is just 34 minutes by car from Belfast and an hour from the city of Derry/Londonderry. We have compiled a short list of things to do in and close to Toome which you can add to your itinerary for a day out.
There is ample parking at the Lock-Keeper’s Cottage in Toome where some of our tours begin. At the Lock-Keeper’s Cottage you can enjoy a tasty light lunch, treat and refreshment. It is also a Waterways Heritage Centre providing an exhibition with archival material and information about the Lower Bann and Lough Neagh. It is a lovely place to stop and relax before or after a boat tour.
At this location you can also take a stroll down the canal at Toome. Begin your walk from the remnants of the beautiful old railway bridge. You will see the information signage about the Game of Thrones filming that took place along the canal. This is a 1.2 mile walk suitable for small children and pram users. This tranquil walk follows the route of the canal, past the Lock Gates and to the point where the River Bann meets Lough Neagh. You may spot large dragonflies or even a mink along this scenic walk. The spiral walkway at the end of the path here affords panoramic views over Toome Bay and Lough Neagh.
Across the bridge from the Lock-Keeper’s Cottage you will see the Eel Fishery where you can pre-book an authentic heritage experience; the Lough Neagh Fisheries Visitor Tour. Here you will be introduced to the myths of Lough Neagh, the Mesolithic history of the area, the fishing heritage that continues to this day and the science of eels. This is a hands on tour which includes a visit to the factory floor (circumstances permitting) and a sample tasting of the unique smoked Lough Neagh eel.
For a sweet treat we highly recommend Ben’s Ice-Cream Studio located in both Toome and Magherafelt. With a range of delicious home-made ice-creams, brownies, waffles, tray-bakes, artisan coffee and more sweets than Willy Wonka, there will be something to please everyone.
If you are going on a River Bann tour you will have a chance to stop at either Portglenone Forest or The Wild Duck pub and restaurant in Portglenone village.
The Wild Duck pub and restaurant in Portglenone sits on the edge of the River Bann. It affords a great dining experience and is just a few steps off the boat on our River Bann Heritage Tour
Portglenone Forest is an ancient woodland with a diverse range of flora and fauna. Set on the banks of the River Bann it provides scenic walks of different lengths. From beautiful bridges, wells, wild garlic and blankets of bluebells in the spring, it is a multi sensory experience.
As a family ourselves we know how important it is to keep the children entertained, so here are a few activities for the kids, and big kids too.
The Jungle NI caters to children and adults of all ages with a huge range of exciting activities. Zip-lining, tree top walks, zorbing, archery, paintball, and clay pigeon shooting are just a few things you can try.
For some Formula 1 excitement, try Railway Karting in Moneymore. It has a great track and plenty of packages to choose from.
For nature lovers the World of Owls is Northern Ireland’s Premier Owl, Bird of Prey and Exotic Animal Conservation Centre situated in the picturesque Randalstown Forest.
For poetry lovers we highly recommend Seamus Heaney Homeplace: an arts and literary centre offering insight into the life and work of the local born internationally acclaimed poet. The onsite café is highly recommended and the shop is stocked with bespoke locally crafted gifts.
After a busy day we’re sure you could do with a rest, a tasty dinner and perhaps a pint of Guinness or a dram of whiskey. The Old Thatch Inn is a traditional thatched pub and restaurant between Castledawson and Toome. It was established in 1832 and offers a quintessential atmosphere to enjoy refreshment or a tasty meal.
The Crosskeys Inn is Ireland’s oldest thatched pub and a famous traditional music venue. It dates back to 1654 and is situated just off the main Randalstown to Portglenone road approximately 30 minutes from Belfast. It is a ‘not to be missed’ unique experience. You can’t escape the rich sense of history and heritage that pervades the atmosphere from the moment you step through the door. Order a pint, sit by the open fire, throw on some turf and enjoy the craic.
Boat Tours departing from or passing by The Lock-Keeper’s Cottage in Toome include;
Shane’s Castle – From Sand to Stone
Book your Boat Tour experience by calling Lynn on +44(0) 7845 370231 and plan your day out now.