Water Sports

The National Park contains a number of lakes and rivers. All of the National Parks waterways are managed primarily for conservation purposes, and this has a bearing on whether or not an activity is permitted. Safety concerns are also an issue – mountain lakes tend to be deep and cold, and mountain rivers can rise dramatically and suddenly after rain.

If you have any queries, please contact us.

Swimming and Paddling

The mountain lakes are occasionally used by locals and visitors. The sandy area at the eastern end of the Upper Lake in Glendalough is a popular spot for paddling and swimming during the summer. Visitors are warned that the lake is deep with sudden depth changes. The shallows areas are quite narrow and drop off suddenly at a certain point. Parents, in particular, need to be aware of the dangers, and should never leave their children to swim or paddle without close supervision.

For safety reasons, inflatable airbeds and other inflatables are not permitted.

There is no lifeguard on duty. Life rings are present at regular intervals along the shore. Anyone entering the lake is warned that they do so at their own risk.

SCUBA Diving

SCUBA diving takes place in the Park under permit, mostly in the Upper Lake, Glendalough. Clubs that are granted a permit to SCUBA dive must abide by certain safety procedures as specified in their permit.

Canoeing & Boating

Canoeing and kayaking takes place on Avonbeg and Avonmore Rivers. There is no boating, canoeing  or kayaking permitted on the lakes at Glendalough, as the area is a Nature Reserve.

For information on canoeing in Ireland see www.irishcanoeunion.com

Powerboating, Water-Skiing & Jet-Skiing

Power-boating, water-skiing and jet skiing is not permitted on Park lakes e.g. Glendalough Upper and Lower Lakes, Upper Lough Bray, Lough Ouler. The only boats used on these sites are for management and rescue purposes.


A number of rivers and lakes within the Park are occasionally fished. The most common species caught is Brown Trout. The principal angling waters within the Park are: the Upper River Liffey, the Avonmore, Lough Dan, Glendalough Upper and Lower Lakes, Kelly’s Lough and Lough Ouler.

Fishing is permitted from 15th March to 30th September using artificial lures only (no live bait allowed). The waters in the Park are very low in nutrients and the average size of trout is very small at 15-18 cm (6-7 inches). All fish under 20.5cm (8 inches) must be returned unharmed.