Facts About the River Bann ( N.I )
The River Bann is Northern Ireland's longest river.
The river rises below the summit of Slieve Muck ( Pig Mountain ) in the Mourne Mountains of County Down, it then travels for forty two miles where it is known as the Upper River Bann until it merges with the United Kingdom's largest freshwater lake - the 151 square kilometre Lough Neagh - at Bannfoot in County Armagh.
The river drains from Lough Neagh at the village of Toome, County Armagh where the river flows for another thirty eight miles and is known as the Lower River Bann, a navigable, canalised body of water, that makes it's way to the coastal town of Castlerock in County Londonderry before draining out into the Atlantic Ocean.
The river is served by several tributaries, including the rivers Agivey, Ballymoney,Clady, Macosquin and Moyola on the Upper River Bann and the rivers Ballybay, Cusher, Leitrim, Muddock and Rocky on the Lower River Bann.
The river is divided into it's upper and lower reaches by Lough Neagh and for most of it's course is around sixty metres wide but widens to a further three hundred acre lake at the point of Lough Beg. Between them these two shallow loughs make up an important wetland area for migratory and breeding wild fowl which has led to the area being designated both as a Nature Reserve and as a Special Site of Scientific Interest ( SSSI). Both loughs regularly flood and the Lower Bann is an important drainage channel for taking these flood waters out to sea.
The heavy rains of the Autumn and Winter months, also cause the flat, arable farmland of the Drowmore Lowlands south of Lough Neagh to become flooded. These Upper River Bann floodplains affect a large area of the surrounding countryside as well as causing problems for the nearby towns of Scarva, Portadown and Banbridge.
The River Bann entering Lough Neagh at Bannfoot
The river is tidal for its last eleven kilometres before entering the Atlantic Ocean at it's site at Castlerock. The Bann Estuary, known as Barmouth, is a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a National Trust Nature Reserve due to it supporting at least four thousand, over wintering wild fowl and wading birds. This area is also the site of some of the U.K.'s rarest, coastal plants and flowers.
During its history the River Bann saw much in the way of industrial traffic situated as it was in the very heart of Northern Ireland's linen, whiskey and coal producing areas. At Portadown part of the Upper River Bann was linked with the Newry Canal that links Lough Neagh with Carlingford Lough and the Irish Sea beyond, the United Kingdome's oldest canal route built between 1730 and 1741.
Course of the River Bann, featuring both the Lower and Upper Bann
Today the river passes through only small towns and villages and sees little in the way of commercial traffic, with its only major commercial port being that at Coleraine, making the waters of the River Bann a popular area for angling - particularly salmon and eel - boating, canoeing, cycling and golfing.
The river passes seven golf courses along it's route all situated in County Londonderry - Brown Trout Golf Club, Castlerock Golf Club, Kilrea Golf Club and Manor Golf Club all situated in and around Coleraine, and Mayola Golf Club, Ronan Valley Golf Club and Tobermore Golf Club all situated around the town of Magherafelt. County Londonderry is also the home of the Royal Portrush Golf Links at Portrush.
The route of the Lower Bann is also accompanied by the two National Cycle Networks of the thirty three mile long NCN Route 96 from Toome to Coleraine and the forty mile long NCN Route 93 from Coleraine to Castlerock.
The river's coastal route flows through the Northern Ireland holiday resorts of Castlerock, Portstewart and Portrush on the County Londonderry coast.
The river is spanned by several road and rail bridges including the named bridges of, Agivey Bridge, Dynes Bridge, Edenberry Bridge, Kate's Bridge, Knock Bridge, McCoomb's Bridge and Whitecoat Bridge with further, multiple bridges in the towns of Banbridge, Coleraine, Kilrea, Portadown, Portglenone and Toome.
The river's oldest surviving bridge is the Bann Bridge at Portadown built during the 17th century.
The 17th century Bann Bridge at Portadown, the River Bann's oldest surviving road bridge
Towns and villages on the Upper River Bann include Banbridge, Markethill, Portadown, Raithfrilland and Tandragee.
Towns and villages situated along the Lower River Bann include Castlerock, Coleraine, Kilrea, Portglenone and Portrush.
The River Bann is Bhan Abha in Irish Gaelic which means white river.
The Gaelic word lough - pronounced lock - means lake.
Image courtesy of Ross, wikimedia commons
Slieve Muck, County Down source of the River Bann.
Points of interest along the Lower River Bann environs include many National Trust owned and run attractions, including the Downhill Demesne (estate) with it's manorial house known as Downhill Castle and Mussenden Temple commissioned in the 1770's by the then Bishop of Derry Fredrick Harvey, which are all situated at Portstewart, the National Trust beach at Portstewart Strand with it's 180 acres of 10 foot high sand dunes and the ten foot high, Carrick - a - Rede Rope Bridge situated at Ballintoy.
The area is also world famous for it's UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Nature Reserve of volcanic, basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway situated just outside Coleraine.
The Upper River Bann region sports several castle sites and ancient churches and it's myriad of small towns and villages are packed with quintessential Irish architecture as well as some impressive Victorian and Edwardian examples of town houses,railway stations and other civic buildings.
OTHER RIVER ARTICLES ABOUT THE -
The longest river in England- facts-about-the-river-thames
The longest river in Ireland - facts-about-the-river-shannon
The longest river in Scotland - facts-about-the-river-tay
The longest river in Wales - facts-about-the-river-towy
The longest river in the United Kingdom - facts-about-the-river-severn
All images courtesy of wikimedia commons