Newry Canal Towpath

Route Details

  • From - To: Portadown to Newry
  • Distance: 20 miles
  • Terrain: Flat route, mainly traffic-free (90% towpath, 10% on quiet minor roads). Surface mainly tarmac, with sections of good quality gravel.
  • Access: Train stations at Portadown and Newry meaning you can cycle one way and train back.
  • National Cycle Network: National Route 9

Route Description

Built to transport coal from Coalisland in County Tyrone to Dublin via Lough Neagh, Portadown, Newry and the Irish Sea, the Newry Canal was opened in 1742.

It operated for almost 200 years until it fell into disuse following the growth of the railway network. Frequent interpretation boards along the way give information about the history of the canal.

You will also find lots of art pieces along the route including Sustrans commissioned Millennium Mileposts and a series of pieces which reflect the former work and nature of the Newry Canal.

Just to the north of Scarva, at a point known as Washbridge, the towpath narrows to pass around the abutment of the former railway bridge which carried the now dismantled railway from Banbridge to Scarva.

The nearby Scarva Visitor Centre makes a very good stopping or turnaround point for a shorter journey, and close to here is the Terryhoogan aqueduct which carried water from the Cusher River to the canal. 

After Scarva you pass Lough Shark which is home to a great array of wildlife (although no sharks...) and is a popular fishing spot.

From here it is easy cycling all the way to Newry.  On arrival in Newry, a visit to the Town Hall is a must - designed by William Batt and constructed in 1893 it is a truly stunning building.

Map: Belfast, Down & Armagh Cycle Map 49

The Newry Canal Towpath leaflet is also available.

Things to See and Do

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Map shows the National Cycle Network and local routes in this area.

This cycle and walking route from the Bann Bridge in Portadown to the Town Hall in Newry is a 20 mile trip on part of route 9 of the National Cycle Network. The route follows the towpath on the western bank of the, now non-navigable, Newry Canal.

20 miles