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All aboard! Public boating trips around Albert Basin and Newry Canal to be trialled early next year

Two-hour trips at £25 a pop will allow people to sail in luxury on the restored Dutch barge

A Belfast-based charity is set to offer boat trips to the public on the Albert Basin and Newry Canal from next year.

Silvery Light Sailing will begin a three-month trial of water-based excursions from the spring.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has already given the go-ahead to the trial.

And it has now been informed that the trips will be introduced around Easter time.

The vessel in question is the Volharding, a 25-metre long Dutch sailing ship which dates back to 1886 and which Silvery Light Sailing restored with help along the way from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Council had provided a dry berth in Newry – at no cost to the charity – since 2015, to facilitate the restoration work.

Now a paper to the council’s enterprise, regeneration and tourism committee on Monday reveals that the licensed series of day sailings will begin shortly.

The two-hour trips would cost £25 per person and would be limited to a maximum of 12 at a time.

The trips would both embark and disembark at the Quays and will give the public the opportunity to enjoy the “natural beauty of the Basin and Canal”.

While these are day outings, there is future potential too to extend the sailings to overnight.

The paper to committee reveals: “Depending on the viability and success of this trial in the spring, Silvery Light Sailing would like to deliver a more comprehensive programme of canal trips in 2020 and onwards.

“The vessell has sleeping accommodation for 12 passengers, allowing for the future possibility of overnight stays or longer voyages between Newry and Strangford Lough – showcasing Carlingford Lough, the Mournes and County Down shoreline from the sea.”

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