6.11 ha (15.10 acres)

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Explorer NULL
OS Landranger 29

Canal Wood is a hidden wildlife refuge nestled between Poyntzpass and Newry, alongside the Newry Canal and the mainline railway.

Though fairly young, this mixed woodland and thriving wetland is rich in wildlife, and the perfect place for a solitary stroll, family ramble or longer amble along the 18-mile long canal towpath.


  • Public access
  • Marshland
  • Broadleaved woodland

How to get to Canal Wood

Canal Wood's 6.11 hectares (15.10 acres) sit conveniently alongside the canal towpath between Newry and Poyntzpass.

Leave Poyntzpass on the main road heading for Newry. After just over two miles, turn left onto the road signed for Dromantine and continue along here for 500 yards, until you meet the canal.

After passing over Gamble's Bridge, turn right to meet the beautiful Newry Canal towpath. There is a small parking area on the right and the Belfast/Dublin railway bridge will be ahead of you.

The closest train station is in Poyntzpass. Trains run here from Belfast.

Visit National Rail for more information.

Buses run from Belfast to Poyntzpass.

Visit Traveline for more information.

Leave Poyntzpass and follow the signs for the Towpath/Canal Road. Follow this until you get to Gambles Bridge, then cross the road and keep going. Pass through a yellow gate and the woodland is a 10-minute walk from here, on your right.

Facilities and access

Canal Wood can be accessed from two points on the canal towpath - the first, over a ditch and crossing a wooden bridge at the beginning of the wetland; the second, across a stone bridge at the middle of the eastern part of the wood.

There is a small parking area on the right as you turn onto the Newry Canal towpath. There are also a number of car parks in Newry.

There are no toilets at this wood, though a number of public toilets are available in Newry. Check the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council website for more details.

Wildlife and habitats

Canal Wood provides a perfect escape from busy modern-day life, where wildlife thrives and you can lose yourself amongst beautiful trees and plants.


Smooth newts, common frogs, banded demoiselles and mute swans breed in the wetland in spring and summer, when you may also see (or hear!) grasshopper warblers or reed buntings. In winter, shy snipe hide amongst the reeds, rushes and sedges, slipping out to feed at the water's edge.

The north of the woodland is a great place to watch insects like peacock butterflies and tree bumblebees gorging on nectar from the trees and wild flowers. In autumn, you may see blackbirds, thrushes and even redwings taking advantage of the berry crop.

Look out for:

Trees, plants and fungi

You'll find water-loving trees like willow and alder in the wetland to the south of the wood. The northern end is lush with beautiful oak, hazel, holly and crab apple trees, making it a wonderful place to watch the seasons change - catkins and blossom in spring, then fruits and berries in autumn.

Keep an eye out for the colourful splashes of cuckooflower, primrose, red campion, ragged robin and wood anemone as you walk. Spring is the time to breathe in the heady scent of bluebells and wild garlic.


Look out for:


Canal Wood is a lovely mix of woodland and wetland. Around half of the site is wetland, with peaceful reedbeds offering shelter for birds and amphibians. The rest is a mixed broadleaved wood made up of veteran oaks and lots of young trees planted back in 2002. It is maturing nicely, feeling older than its tender years thanks to the additional bluebells, primroses and lesser celandine planted in 2014 with help from the local community.

Dedication bench at Watkins Wood

Dedicate at this wood

This wood is one of more than 50 across the UK where it's possible to dedicate trees, benches or larger areas of woodland. Mark a special occasion or celebrate the life of a loved one with a meaningful gesture that lasts. 

Choose a dedication

About Canal Wood


In 2000, we purchased Canal Wood from the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company and have since made countless improvements. Working alongside a group of local volunteers from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI), we've revealed the potential of the woodland and begun a long-term programme of restoration.

We also received generous funding through the Government’s Landfill Communities Fund and Biffa Award, which supported the creation of paths and the improvement of the wood for wildlife in 2013. 

We created more new habitat at Canal Wood in 2015, planting 300 trees in the understorey with the help of volunteers.

This special wood has a rich history stemming from its position between the Newry Canal towpath and rail line between Belfast and Dublin. Look out for the stone bench sculpture at the entrance to the wood which depicts the industrial heritage of the area – as well as the wood's wildlife – through intricate carvings.

Things to do in Canal Wood


A circular route guides you along the wetland boardwalk, through the woodland and across a series of quaint stone bridges, back to the canal towpath. There are a few seats dotted throughout the wood where you can stop for a snack or to simply enjoy the scenery.

The canal towpath itself is an impressive 18 miles long, running from Portadown to Newry, giving the option of a longer walk or whole day out.


Canal Wood Management Plan

PDF  (123 KB)