Bonet River, Co. Leitrim

Length: 1km
Grade: 3
Location: Dromahair, Co. Leitrim.

Quick description:

A typically short run with a nice large drop in the middle, followed by a sweet, but too-short class 3 run to the finish.


Get to Dromahair village Co. Leitrim. It’s about a half hour from Sligo town (R286-R288). The river flows through the back of the village.

Park in the back of the Abbey hotel. From here you can inspect the main drop from the river-right bank. Wear good footwear as it is mucky, and watch out for crazy sinkholes left by the old mill or whatever it was that used to be there. You could break a leg easily.

The only visible evidence of whatever used to be built there is the steps leading down to the main falls. Use these to inspect and set up safety. There are also steps leading up from the main eddy after the drop which you can use if either you want to portage the drop, or you want to run it again. To put in, either put in below the footbridge at the back of the hotel, or walk up through the town to the next bridge. Put in above the bridge on river-right. This gives a small bit more rapids to warm up in and extends the trip so it does not seem like such a short river. Take out is below the bridge at the football fields, river left or right.

River guide:

From the higher put-in the water is flat and slow-moving. Head downstream a few hundred meters and the rapids start. It is a few small shelves with no features or lines to speak of. Just stay out of the trees.

Soon you will come to the footbridge and the lower put-in. From here it is a few more meters of shelves and micro rapids to the main drop. Get out in an eddy on river right above the drop to inspect and set up whatever safety you need. The main line is obvious. Straight down the tongue, middle-right. It’s best to stay right on the tongue. It looks narrow from the bank, but it is actually about 6 foot wide. The current shifts right to left over it, so entering on the right will leave you in centre at the base. Watch the cheeky little stopper just after the main fall. It can catch the unwary.

Eddy out after this on river right. Other lines on the main fall are a sneak-line through a channel on river-left. This can be quite overgrown, so inspect before running. Also there is a line in the middle of the river which leads down into a funky slot between a rock and the falls. In lower water this is fun to explore. After the main fall, ferry over to river-left, then it is read-and-run the whole way to the next bridge. In higher levels some of these little drops can have grabby stoppers in the base, so make sure to do the read bit of read-and run correctly. So long as you stay more or less in the left half of the river you will be fine though. Below the next little bridge is a really nifty eddy on river left which could squirt the titanic. Play in this if you like.

Take out is from this eddy, or from the stairs on river-right just below this bridge. Then portage back up to the car. Hazards: Strainers. This river flows though a heavily wooded piece of the countryside, and can pick up a lot of tree debris in its way down. Inspect the upstream arches of all three bridges before paddling for blockages. Usually at least one arch will be blocked partially on some bridge. The upper section of the river has low hanging trees. Avoid, duck or plough through. The main drop can have plenty of stoppery action on it in places. If in doubt, or if levels are high, set up rescue with a throw-bag on the steps river-right and a chase-boater for gear in the eddy below the drop. The rocks are not too sharp, but the river is pretty shallow, so mind your face on capsizes.

Water levels:

Typical to the northwest, the Bonet river needs a good bit of rain in a recent timeframe to be up. It can usually be run a few days after good rain, but ideally you want to be getting on the same day. Inspect the bridges and the main drop to know if you can run it. If there is not enough water going over the lip of the drop, it is too low. If there is not enough clearance under the footbridge at the hotel, it is too high.

Disclaimer: The information in this guide is provided in good faith, for reference only and serves only as a general guide for paddlers; it is not a substitute for users’ own assessment of the river conditions.  This guide is no longer maintained and as river characteristics may change significantly over time, the information contained herein may no longer be accurate. Guides that include access through private land do not imply permission to access said land. All paddlers are advised to be respectful of land owners and to seek permission before entering any private land.

Sligo Kayak Club assumes no responsibility for any consequence arising from the use or mis-use of information contained within these pages.