Rivers and Loughs

Ballinderry Rivers Trust is concerned with the conservation, protection and enjoyment of the Ballinderry River, the rivers and streams that flow into the western shore of Lough Neagh and Lough Neagh itself.

Collective this is an area of over 1000 square kilometres of Northern Ireland with over 600 kilometres of rivers and streams and over 350 square kilometres of loughs.


Ballinderry River

The Ballinderry River is located in the centre of Northern Ireland in an area known as Mid-Ulster. The river carries water from the southern slopes of the Sperrin Mountain range to the western shore of Lough Neagh, the largest freshwater lake in the UK and Ireland.

Most of the river is in County Tyrone, however, in the lower reaches, the Lissan Water and the Ballinderry River below Cookstown forms the boundary between Counties Tyrone and Londonderry/Derry.

The source of the Ballinderry River is a small glacial lough called Cam Lough which lies 211 meters above sea level and is nestled between the peaks of Evishanoran and Craignagore Mountains on the southern slopes of the Sperrin Mountain range.

As the river leaves Cam Lough it flows north for several kilometres before turning east towards Cookstown and onwards to Lough Neagh.   From Cam Lough to Lough Neagh the waters of the Ballinderry travel for 47 kilometres passing through remote upland peat bog, wooded glens, basalt and sandstone gorges, bustling villages, sleepy hamlets and open grazing pastures.

Joining the Ballinderry River, along its course, are many small streams which carry water from the surrounding countryside, and a number of tributary rivers, such as the Lissan Water, the Ballymully River, the Rock River, the Claggan River and the Killymoon River; each significant rivers in their own right.

Together, these rivers and tributaries drain an area of 487 square kilometres of Mid-Ulster. This area is collectively known as the Ballinderry River Catchment.

Looking at a map of the Ballinderry River catchment, there is barely a 1km2 of land that does not have a part of a stream or river flowing through it. There are so many streams and rivers in the Ballinderry River catchment that if they were straightened out and placed end to end, the river would stretch from its source at Cam Lough to London, in the south east of England, over 500 kilometres away.

Western shore rivers and streams

Ballinderry Rivers Trust is not just concerned with the protection of the Ballinderry River. In 2014, the Trust expanded its area of charitable interest to include all of the smaller rivers and streams that flow into Lough Neagh along its western shore.

There are twelve western shore rivers and streams. Their combined lengths total over 90 kilometres of important river habitat. They are:

Aughamullan Stream
Ballydonnell Stream
Ballyronan River
Brookend Stream
Cluntoe River
Curran River
Doon River
Drumeneagh River
Duckingstool River
Lisnamorrow River
Mournview River
Salterstown River

Much of the land these rivers and streams drain is relatively flat and therefore they tend to be slow flowing and deep.

Some of these rivers and streams are actually longer today than they were 80 years ago, due to the level of the Lough being lowered in between 1847 and 1858 and again between 1930 and 1942 to reclaim land.

The Trust is currently working hard to gather information about these important rivers and streams. If you can share any local information with us please contact us.

Lough Neagh

Lough Neagh is the largest freshwater lake in the UK and Ireland and the third largest in Europe.   It is 25 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide and has a total shore length of 125 kilometres.

Although it is large in size, Lough Neagh is quite shallow with an average depth of 8.9 meters. The deepest part of the lough is 34 meters.

Including the Ballinderry there are six major rivers flowing into Lough Neagh (Ballinderry, Blackwater, Maine, Moyola, Six Mile, Upper Bann) and one flowing out, the Lower Bann, which discharges the Lough’s water to the Atlantic Ocean on the north coast of Northern Ireland, near Coleraine.

Collectively, all of the inflowing rivers to Lough Neagh drain 5360 km2 of land, 4450km2 of which is in Northern Ireland and 910km2 in the Republic of Ireland.

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