Benburb and the Blackwater River

Benburb and the Blackwater River

We last visited the Benburb Valley Park in April 2017, so this was a first for some of the newer members of the seventeen strong group. The park is a large open space with walks located on either side of the River Blackwater and near the Ulster Canal. The river is mainly in Counties Armagh and Tyrone and it also forms part of the border between the UK and the Republic. The Ulster Canal was built between 1825 and 1842 and was 46 miles long with 26 locks. It ran from Charlemont on the River Blackwater to the south east of Upper Lough Erne. It was an ill–considered venture, with the locks built narrower than the other Irish waterways, preventing through trade, and an inadequate water supply. It was an abject failure commercially.

The site is renowned for the Battle of Benburb and has a ruined castle located in the grounds just below the Servite Priory. It is a plantation bawn built in 1611 by Sir Richard Wingfield, on the site of an O’Neill strong point on a bend in the Blackwater River thought to have been constructed as early as the 15th century.

The riverside walks are clothed in mature woodland and provide an excellent opportunity to view rapids as the Blackwater charges through the valley. The park is located at the point where the water begins to slow down and meander towards Lough Neagh. Upstream the valley also has remnants of a milling complex from the industrial era and we saw these old buildings at Milltown.

As has become a habit we had refreshments before walking and we occupied most of the new Stables Coffee shop in the Priory grounds before heading off. The rain made a half–hearted effort to dampen our spirits but never came to much and miraculously stopped altogether as we arrived at the picnic area near the road bridge over the river at Maydown. The it was a steep climb back up to the Priory to end our walk.

The next outing is on September 7th to the Rocky River which flows between Hen and Rocky Mountains in the western Mournes. It‘s 5 miles and we meet at 9am in the church car park

Added by: RobbieJackson
Added on: Saturday 10th August 2019

Category: Walkers

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