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Minister congratulates award winning canoe trail

15 April, 2008

Sinn Féin Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP MLA has officially congratulated the Lough Erne Canoe Trail for winning the Innovation category at this year's Waterways Renaissance Awards.

The Waterways Renaissance Awards aim to recognise best practice in sustainable waterway regeneration and development throughout the UK. This is the first time in the history of the award that a project based in the North of Ireland has received such an accolade.

Congratulating the organisation on their success the Minister said:

"Fermanagh's tourism infrastructure continues to develop, and represents a tremendous opportunity for many innovative and inspiring projects like this. The Trail will be a magnet to canoeists from both the local community and those from further afield. The tourism generated as a result of the development of the Trail will benefit rural communities, pubs, village shops, visitor attractions and accommodation providers along its length."

The trail is accompanied by onshore interpretation material and a website providing maps, advice on sustainability and information ranging from local facilities to biodiversity which help to promote the area as a whole.

The Minister also discussed her commitment to revitalising rural areas, saying that:

"My Department is actively supporting a large number of rural projects and initiatives throughout the North. The new Rural Development Programme 2007-2013 will provide the opportunity for significant investment in rural areas as well as encouraging individuals and organisations to work together to enhance and improve the lives of all those living in rural communities."

The 50 km Lough Erne Canoe Trail stretches from Muckross on Lower Lough Erne to Crom in Upper Lough Erne. Launched in May 2005, the trail has gone from strength to strength attracting avid canoeists from all over the world.

The Canoe Trail was developed by the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) and the Canoe Association. The project received £20,478 in funding from the Department of Agriculture through the Natural Resource Tourism Initiative (NRRTI) Programme which was part of the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation. Financial support was also received from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (Inland Waterways Division), Environment and Heritage Service and Fermanagh District Council.


  1. Now in their sixth year, the Waterways Renaissance Awards aim to recognise best practice in sustainable waterway regeneration and development. The winners of the ten categories were announced on 12 March 2008.
  2. The Lough Erne Canoe Trail is the first canoe trail of its kind. Designed by canoeists, the trail has succeeded through its practicality, attractiveness and accessibility to a wide range of user groups. The project has acted as a template for four other Canoe Trails in the North of Ireland. The Blackwater Canoe Trail was launched in November 2007, Lower Bann in February 2008 with Lough Neagh and Strangford Lough coming on-line in 2008. More information is available on
  3. The project was managed by the Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) an umbrella organisation, which brings together all groups, and organisations that have an interest in, or involvement with countryside recreation.

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