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Located to the north of Lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, the Garvary River has its source in the outflows from Loughs Vearty and Tullyasiddagh. It flows in a general south-easterly direction, augmented by the Crossowen River and the outflow from Lough Scolban, and eventually discharges to Lower Lough Erne. Approximately 7 km long, the river has a catchment area of 35.5km2 of which around 5% is lake surface. At the ECN site, the river is 2.5-3 metres wide and 30cm deep with a few holding pools around 60cm deep.
The drift geology of the catchment consists mainly of peat and bedrock at or near the surface which some glacial till and small amounts of sand and gravel. The solid geology has been identified as mainly mica schist of the Moinian period. In its upper reaches, the river flows though moorland and peat bog. Soils in the catchment are peats and gleys with poor drainage capacity, supporting a vegetation cover of rough pasture, bracken and heather. The upper part of the catchment supports low intensity sheep grazing, while downstream the land use is predominantly improved grassland.
Although the Garvary River has not been designated under the Freshwater Fish Directive it has excellent water quality both chemically and biologically, and it is a very important nursery area with high densities of juvenile trout and salmon. Its banks have many trees (mainly alder, willow and hazel) which provide adequate shading for the juvenile fish. The river is not suitable for angling and does not have stocks of takable fish. Wildlife found in the river corridor include mallard duck and dragonflies.