Garavogue River, Sligo

Length: 300 meters.
Grade: 2.
Location: Sligo Town.

Quick description:

The jewel of Sligo town. A short and fun stretch of play-boating water. There are a few fun holes and waves to play on, with different characters depending on water levels and tides. Not suitable for beginners due to the tricky line beneath the bridge and the urban junk.


Find Bank of Ireland on Stephen Street (R286). The car park behind it is probably best spot to park. Also this is where you put on.

Go to the low wall beside the Weekender offices. Over this is where you get on. You can also just seal launch down the bank by the Garavogue bar by the footbridge.

Take-out is downriver below the rapids on river left on a slipway by some apartments. Portage and keep going left around the apartments then follow the river back to your car, or leave your car in the take-out car park there by the slipway on Quay Street.

River guide:

This river is a great thing to have in your local town. You can usually pop on for a quick blast when longer trips a field are not an option.
First-up, we tend to paddle upstream and get warmed up on flow coming between the arches of the bridge street bridge. Once everyone is happy its off down beneath the footbridge and on down the first rapid above Hyde Bridge.

This normally forms a wave or hole, and can be surfed in all except very high water levels. Make sure to get hard river-right before you leave the wave if you want to make the other features. If unsure just run this rapid hard river-right into the large eddy above the bridge.

You really want to make the very right hand arch on this bridge (Hyde bridge), and catch the eddy on the right directly below it. It’s the easiest line, and usually the only one from which you can access a lot of the play potential of the river. The further left arches will dish out sucky lines and potential beatings off the bridge in greater amounts the further left you go.
Below the bridge on river-right you have access to a small but fun green-wave then from there the main hole. The green wave is shallow, steep and narrow, but very fun all the same in the right water levels. To get the main hole, slingshot across the green wave, ferry into it and play all you like. Different levels will give different possibilities, but it is usually best to stay in the river-right pocket of it if you want to make the ferry back into the eddy. At higher flows this hole opens into a steep and super-dynamic wave.

When you are done here, or simply don’t make your ferry, work your way river left into the large eddy beside the Glass House hotel. Here you have good eddy service to the hole that forms on river left over a rock shelf. In lower levels it is a hole which spins nicely all over the place and can get vertical in the river right pocket sometimes. In higher flows it opens out into a very fast wave which surges in an interesting way. When playing here keep a close watch to make sure no one goes into the scaffolding.

When done here, head down to the take-out and either portage back around and run it again, or call it a day. Locals are getting pretty used to seeing paddlers wandering around the streets in full gear so don’t be shy.


Although a grade 2 stretch of water it is best to think of it as being in the higher spectrum of grade 2. The river is quite often shallow in places, and the rocks can give you a bad knock. The lines down through the bridge arches love to deliver inexperienced paddlers into the arches. The usual hazards you find in urban whitewater boating abound on this stretch.

Shopping trolleys and road signs are regular hazards and can gouge boats and entrap paddlers. Currently there is a large scaffolding in the water on river left below the rapids. This is a serious hazard so do not go near it. These urban hazards move about as we remove some and the local charmers replace them with other fun obstacles.

The traffic in Sligo town should rightly be classified as a hazard with its weird one-way systems and terrible signposting. If you find parking, make sure to pay your parking to avoid a ticket. And lock-up well.

Water levels:

There is no real upper limit at which this river can be run. In super-full flood conditions things get washed out and very pushy. The lowest it can reasonably be paddled is when a diagonal stopper starts forming above the main hole below the bridge. From this level down it is pretty pointless to paddle. The river comes up with a few days rain and stays working usually for a week or two, depending on how much it topped up the lake above. You want to paddle this river at low tide for optimum fun.

Here is the tide table: Sligo Bay Tide Table

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.