Frequently Asked Questions

Our Frequently Asked Question page has been divided into topics.

  1. Events - booking, what to wear
  2. Lock Keeper's Cottage - opening times
  3. Wildlife - stray dogs, injured animals, seals in the river
  4. Litter - who is responsible for litter control
  5. Dog bins
  6. Fishing
  7. Volunteering - how can I volunteer, what do volunteers do
  8. Towpath use - guide to towpath use
  9. Towpath Code


Why do I need to book?
All events that we run now require booking. Some events involve transport and we are limited to numbers.
Another reason is that we need to know how many staff members are required to make the event enjoyable and safe for everyone.

Where do we meet?
Each event has a different starting point and time. Details are in our event programme which is launched in late December or early January each year. Click on the Events link on the toolbar.

How long does it take?
Each of our events varies in how long they last but most last 1-2 hours. For details on specific events please contact our office on 028 9049 1922 for further information.

What should I wear?
We welcome everyone on our events but please bear these important points in mind:-

  • Suitable clothing and footwear must be worn, sturdy boots, warm clothes or waterproofs depending on the conditions
  • You are advised to wear a safety helmet on cycle tours

What else do I need to know?

  • Some parts of the walks may be steep or difficult
  • Some events require a certain level of fitness
  • All children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult
  • Dogs are not permitted on events involving a minibus or where they are likely to affect livestock, and should be kept on a lead and under control at other events

    Lock Keeper's Cottage and Barge

    When is it open?
    A group of heritage guides volunteer to open the cottage and barge. The cottage and barge are normally open for visitors between 10am and 4pm on week days and 11.30am and 3.30pm on the last weekend of the month. Opening depends on the availability of a volunteer.

    Please ring the Park office for information on opening times for each day.

    Lock Keeper's Cottage
    The cottage is now owned by Belfast City Council but was restored by Castlereagh Borough Council in partnership with Lagan Valley Regional Park. The Lock Keeper’s Cottage was restored as part of Laganscape, a Heritage Lottery Funded project managed by Lagan Valley Regional Park. Construction work commenced on 23rd June 2008.

    The Industry Lighter

    The Industry lighter is now owned by Belfast City Council but was restored by Castlereagh City Council in 2014.

    I want to bring a group to the Lock Keeper's Inn how do I book?
    The Lock Keeper’s Inn is a separate organisation and their telephone number is 02890 640088.


    Stray dogs
    I've found a stray dog - what should I do?
    Each Council has a dog warden officer who can contact the owner based on information on the dog chip or tag.
    Belfast City Council – 028 9032 0202
    Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council – 028 9250 9250

    What do I do if I find an injured bird or animal?
    Call the USPCA 028 9081 4242
    T.A.C.T. Wildlife 028 9442 2900

    Are there seals in the Lagan?
    There have been a number of sightings of Grey Seals in the last 3 years as far upstream as Lisburn.

    It is not uncommon for seals to come up rivers and we believe they are following the salmon which spawn over the winter months. Seals will also take water fowl from the river.
    The seals can travel up the fish ladders and can haul themselves onto the banks and travel along the banks at spots where they are unable to negotiate the river.

    Over recent years there have been huge efforts to clean the river and the fact that the salmon have returned and are spawning is a good indicator that the water quality has improved. An increase in sightings of kingfishers, cormorants, heron and otter is also a good indicator of improved water quality.

    Improvements to water treatment plants in the Lagan Valley Regional Park will further enhance the water quality and work is ongoing.


    Who is responsible for litter collection within the Lagan Valley Regional Park?

    Lagan Valley Regional Park Rangers and volunteers carry out litter picks along the full 11 mile stretch on a weekly basis... Annually we collected somewhere in the region of 450 sacks of litter. However, we constantly get complaints about litter in the various parks, forests and paths which make up the 4,000 acres of the Lagan Valley Regional Park.

    - Lagan Valley Regional Park: the Ranger Service is responsible for litter collection on the towpath (and up to two metres either side) between Stranmillis car park (Belfast) and Union Locks (Lisburn). Additionally, the Ranger Service is responsible for the Stranmillis and Drumbridge car parks.

    - Belfast City Council: responsible for litter collection in Lagan Lands East, Lagan Meadows, Morelands Meadows, Clement Wilson Park, Barnett's Desmesne, Mary Peter's track, Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park.

    - Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council: responsible for litter collection in McIlroy Park, Castle Gardens, Lisburn Island, Derryaghy Glen Linear Park, Jubilee Park.

    - Forest Service: Belvoir Forest, Hydebank wood, Hazelbank Wood

    - National Trust: Minnowburn Beeches, Terrace Hill.

    -Transport NI: Shaw’s Bridge car park

    - Woodland Trust: Belvoir Drive wood, Seymour Hill wood, Old Warren Wood

    -DOENI - Historic Environment Division: Giants Ring, Giant's Ring car park, Edenderry Trail,

    Unfortunately there is no body responsible for clearing litter from the river or canal. The Rivers Agency is responsible for ensuring that the river is free from obstructions and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency for the water quality in the river.

    We encourage visitors to the Park to adopt the ‘Leave No Trace’ policy. Therefore, if there are no convenient bins available, visitors should take their litter home.

    Dog bins

    Why aren't there any dog bins on the towpath?

    Dog waste is a nuisance for towpath users and can pose a threat to health. We encourage visitors to the park to adopt the ‘Leave No Trace’ policy. Therefore, if there are no convenient bins available, visitors should take their litter home. Where bins have been provided, the cost of replacement from vandalism has meant many bins cannot be replaced.
    Note: It is permissible to put bagged dog waste into many normal litter bins.


    Can you fish in the Lagan?

    With water quality improvements and restocking projects in recent years, the Lagan is now an excellent spot for both coarse and game fishing.

    It is important that you have the appropriate permit / license before you can fish. You must also abide by any seasonal and fishing-method restrictions.

    Whilst there is no closed season for coarse-fishing, the game fishing season runs from 1st March to 31st October.

    Full details can be found on the Department for Infrastructure (DfL) web site.


    How do I volunteer?
    You can contact our Volunteer Coordinator for a chat on 028 9049 1922. The Volunteer Co-ordinator will provide you with a Volunteer Pack and registration form.
    How often do they meet?
    The Conservation Volunteers meet every second Saturday, the Heritage Guides volunteer whenever they are available and those doing surveys are active every week. It all depends on what you want to do.

    What tasks do they do?
    See our volunteer section of our website for details.

    Towpath use - See also the Towpath Code

    Who can use the towpath?

    Walkers, cyclists, runners and many others are wecome to use the shared use path, however we do request that everyone shows consideration for other users and follow the Towpath Code.

    Who can't use the towpath?

    Motorcycles, hunting and shooting are forbidden on the towpath.

    Horseriding in not permitted on the towpath.

    Who has right of way?

    The towpath code states that cyclists must give way to pedestrians at all times.

    Why are cyclists asked to use their bells on the towpath?

    The towpath code asks that cyclists use bells when approaching other users to make them aware of their presence and that they slow down to walking pace.

    For full details see the Towpath Code