Enjoy one of Northern Ireland’s epic road trips around the largest lake in the UK & Ireland; Lough Neagh. Our self-drive itinerary will take you off the beaten track to see some of Lough Neagh’s most beautiful locations. We’ve designed the itinerary to be complete in one day, but you can change it to suit your schedule.
Arrive 10am – Oxford Island – Depart 11.30am
Arrive 10.45am – Yellow Door (collect picnic) – Depart 11am
Arrive 11.30am – Maghery Country Park – Depart 1pm
Arrive 1.20pm – Washing Bay – Depart 2.00pm
Arrive 2.20pm – Ardboe Cross – Depart 2.50pm
Arrive 3pm – Coyle’s Cottage – Depart 4pm
Arrive 4.20pm – Ballyronan Marina – Depart 5.00pm
Arrive 5.30pm – Ardtara Country House (dinner) – Depart 7.00pm
Arrive 7.15pm – Walshe’s Hotel – Stay overnight
Oxford Island is an excellent location to aquatint yourself with Lough Neagh, it is situated on the south eastern shore and is a designated National Nature Reserve due to the diversity and local importance of habitats such as reed beds, open water, wildlife ponds, forests and wildflower meadows. The island is known for its scenic walking trails where you will find bird watching hides along the way. The Lough Neagh Discovery Centre is a hub of information and a great place for a coffee to kick start the road trip.
Also on Oxford Island is the picturesque Kinnego Marina, the largest marina on Lough Neagh. Kinnego has a magnificent rural setting of beauty and tranquility, giving striking views over the Lough and the distant hills of Tyrone and Antrim. A selfie beside the sailing boats is a must before you leave the island.
Oxford Island National Nature Reserve, Craigavon, Co. Armagh, BT66 6NJ
Bring your own picnic basket and fill it with a range of goodies to be enjoyed later on the road trip. The Yellow door is owned and run by renowned chef, Simon Dougan, who takes great pride in producing high quality patisserie items, home baked breads, soup, pastries, super salads, afternoon teas and much more. Simon’s wife grows many of the ingredients in the yellow door kitchen garden – you just can’t get fresher than that! The Yellow door stock a fabulous range of local artisan products. You will be spoilt for choice as you pick out a selection of goods for your very own picnic.
74 Woodhouse Street, Portadown, County Armagh, BT62 1JL
Maghery Country Park is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the views across to Coney Island, which lies 1km offshore and is the only remaining inhabited island on Lough Neagh. The park covers thirty acres and includes five kilometres of woodland walks and picnic areas and is used for birdwatching, fishing, and walking. It has a rich history reaching back to the time of St. Patrick and is considered to be one of the most Westerly outposts of the Normans after their arrival in Ulster. There are foot paths around the shore of the island with lots of interesting things to see. This is the perfect spot to enjoy your picnic from Yellow Door Deli 🙂
Derrylee Rd, Dungannon BT71 6NS
Washing Bay is another viewpoint along the shores of Lough Neagh. There’s an interesting tradition that explains where the name comes from. A tradition of bathing in the Holy River at Washing Bay was practiced into the 20th century, people would come from as far away as Galway and Mayo. According to recent memoirs the waters of the Holy River rose at midnight on St. John’s Eve, 23rd June and during this time sick people would wash in the river with red flannel rags which would then be tied to the trees along the bank. The story goes that as the rags disintegrated the disease disappeared. Although the tradition was stopped in the 1930’s , people still come to be cured and rags can be seen at the Holy River Bridge in late June.
Washingbay,, Dungannon BT71 4QT
Stop the car at Ardboe Cross, a high cross and national monument dating from the tenth century located in Ardboe, Lough Neagh. The cross stands at the entrance to a cemetery and a monastery & church from the seventeenth century which was founded in 590 by Saint Colman. The monastery was destroyed by fire in the twelfth century. It is believed to have been erected in either the ninth or the tenth century.
The name “Ard Boe” means “hill of the cow” it comes from a legend that the monastery of Ardboe was built from the milk of a magic cow out of Lough Neagh and forms the only remaining part of an early monastery on the site. At around 18.5 feet (5.6 m), Ardboe High Cross is Northern Ireland’s tallest cross. Although the head of the cross is damaged, it seems to be the only such cross in Northern Ireland to remain largely complete and original.
Ardboe Road, Cookstown BT80 0HU
The next stop is very Instagram worthy! Coyle’s Cottage has been standing strong for approximately 300 years. The cottage is believed to be the last authentic fisherman’s cottage in the area and was inhabited until quite recently. The cottage comprises just one room, with an open fire to warm your toes. Coyle’s Cottage is only open by prior arrangement, tea/coffee and home-bakes can be arranged, but even when it’s not open, it is still worth stopping for that photograph!
Annaghmore Road, Cookstown, Co Tyrone, BT80 0JA,
Next stop on the itinerary is Ballyronan Marina where you can relax and enjoy the wonderful wooded walks as well as a blue flag beach, you can stroll along the breakwater to give you a sense of just how large Lough Neagh is, on a clear day you can see Divis mountain in the distance and watch the fishing boats as they bring in their catch of Lough Neagh Eels, it really is the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll.
Shore Road, Ballyronan BT45 6JA
Our stop for dinner is really special; this stunning Victorian Country House was built by Harry Clark, a linen baron, around 1896. Ardtara has been lovingly restored to its former glory and operates as a luxury country house hotel. Ardtara has two AA Rosettes and is a Michelin recommended restaurant serving the finest local and seasonal dishes, with many of the ingredients grown in the gardens of the estate. Ardtara is a member of Ireland’s Blue Book, having won countless prestigious awards, it is frequently listed as one of the best places to eat in Northern Ireland.
Gorteade Road, Upperlands BT46 5SA
Book your table in advance: https://www.ardtara.com/
Walsh’s Hotel offer guests a warm and friendly experience, the rooms are very well appointed with everything you need for a great nights sleep. Steeped in history with lots of stories to tell, Walsh’s is a great place to recharge your batteries before heading off on another Lough Neagh Adventure.
53 Main St, Maghera BT46 5AA
Book a room in advance: https://walshshotel.com/