Pokemon Go at Lough Neagh
With Pokémon Go Taking over the handsets of tens of millions of players around the world, now is a great time to get into this addictive game, and there are few better ways to experience it than traversing the beautiful shores of Lough Neagh in search of that elusive Gyarados.
Lough Shore Park, Antrim
The Lough Shore Park in Antrim is a great destination for a walk along the shoreline, providing a terrific view of the lough. This leads into the magestic Antrim Castle Gardens. Dating back 400 years, these historic gardens, with a coffee shop, events pavilion and castle ruins play host to a stunning setting for budding Pokémon Go players/trainers to catch and photograph Pokémon to their hearts content. The Lough Shore park and the connected Antrim Castle Gardens are host to a number of Pokéstops (I counted well over 20) along the entirety of the route from Rea’s Wood all the way up to Antrim Castle Gardens.
Kinnego Marina, situated on the south eastern shore of Lough Neagh, has a number of great offerings for pokemon trainers of all ages. The site boasts to a caravan park, coffee shop, outdoor gym, bushcraft centre and seasonal boat trips. Visitors can take a boat trip on the Master McGra from April to October and visit the idyllic Coney Island to play Pokémon Go, advance booking recommended. Back on dry land vistors to the marina can enjoy the nearby Kinnego pond, a fifteen-minute walk from the marina which hold a magnificently diverse range of wildlife and fauna including dragonflies, Water Beetles and Great-Crested Grebe among many other species. The marina contains close to 10 different pokéstops in a small vicinity and provides a great route for players looking for a few new pokéstops within an interesting setting.
A very short distance from Kinnego Marina lies the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, also located on Oxford Island, a national nature reserve on the shores of lough Neagh. Along with a wide array of animal and plant life the centre also has excellent walking routes, birdwatching hides and the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre. It is perhaps one of the best places around the lough to view first-hand the incredible diversity of wildlife that the lough supports. Oxford Island is perfect to play Pokemon Go, it has approximately 15 pokéstops jotted around it’s landscape with one of the best features being that the pokéstops are genuinely interesting monuments to visit on their own merit. If you live nearby, you should definitely take advantage of Oxford Island’s glorious natural habitat in search of your favourite pokemon.
Toomebridge is a small County Antrim village nestled at the North-West corner of the lough at the entrance of the Lower Bann River. Leading from the car park at Toome canal, Toome has a quiet, scenic walk that accompanies the length of the waterway, with a towering avenue of trees, a sluice gate, outdoor gym the walk eventually coming to a wonderful vista of the lough from a seated viewing area. The walk provides a great opportunity for a quiet and relaxing journey into the world of Pokemon Go with 6 stops spread throughout Toome it’s an ideal area to enjoy the game.
Situated on the western shores of Lough Neagh at Ballyronan Village, the marina is a great place for a short and tranquil walk along the shores of Lough Neagh. Boasting a marina, play park, a small beach and an accompanying woodland forest and lots of activities like canoeing and sailing, Ballyronan Marina has plenty to offer everyone. I have spent some time playing Pokémon GO at Ballyronan Marina, walking along the shore line and through the forest trying (unsuccessfully) to catch all of the pokemon that a 10 year old me also chased. My greatest success of the day really evokes the spirit of the game and provides an insight into part of what has made the game a great success. Upon catching a Staryu, I shortly encountered other players and gave them a tip of where I had just caught one, upon hearing this they gleefully ran to where I had been to try and catch it too. It was a simple interaction but it showcases the best the game has to offer; the ability of the game to bring people together and enjoy some good, simple fun.
Having only spent a short amount of time with the game, it’s not hard to see the appeal of the game, It’s not often that a game comes along that not only gets people out and about but one which so easily succeeds in bringing people together. The places mentioned offer a fantastic way to play the game whilst getting to experience some of the most outstanding areas the lough has to offer. All in all, it’s a great game for getting people out and exploring whilst sharing simple, fun experiences with friends and strangers alike and one which I’m keen to experience more of.
Safety note: Please be careful of your surroundings when playing Pokemon Go, especially when near traffic or water. Children should always be accompanied by an adult, play responsibly.
Blog by Aaron Swann, July 2016