Whether you’re planning a one-day outing, or a three-day break, we’ve got the perfect itinerary for getting the very best out of the Shannon-Erne Waterway.
Where better to escape into the beautiful surrounding landscape than in mellow little Leitrim village. With rolling hills and mountains, beautiful green fields and the inky waters of the Shannon-Erne Waterway on your doorstep, it's the perfect launch pad to immerse yourself in nature. Fancy a challenge? Rent an electric bike from Electric Bike Trails and take off on the Lough Allen Trail, a 63km self-guided trail around Lough Allen with the Sliabh An Iarainn Mountain to the east and Corry Mountain to the west. It's an amazing route full of scenic stop-offs and friendly locals, but it does require a good level of fitness and takes about six hours to complete.
Fancy something a little easier? Head north to Drumshanbo and take a walk on the Acres Lake Boardwalk, a "walk on water" experience on pretty Acres Lake. Back in Drumshanbo, enjoy a relaxed lunch at the Jackalope Cafe at the Shed Distillery, before exploring the area on foot with a stroll along the Killarcan to Kilclare Walking Trail. Starting at lock 16 just a short distance from Leitrim Village, this 5km trail brings you along a grassy surface crossing over locks and little bridges along the way. It's not a looped trail, though, so make sure you keep some energy for the return trip!
Back in Leitrim Village, enjoy a well-deserved dinner at the super-cosy Barge Steakhouse.
What better way to start the day than by stepping into a beautiful Canadian canoe, grabbing a paddle and gliding along the Shannon-Erne Waterway in the company of Adventure Gently. It's a real escape into nature, with gently flowing waters, abundant lakes and lots of wildlife. The town of Ballinamore is a great stop-off point for a relaxed lunch after being out on the water. This small town has an interesting history that can be traced back to the 5th century when the Conmaicne people of early Ireland settled in the area. Looking for the perfect pub lunch? Head into the beautiful old traditional interior of Smyth's Siopa Ól, which is much loved for its cosy décor, friendly atmosphere and great food. Afterwards, get your walking boots on for a slow-lane stroll on the Ballinamore Looped Walking trail. The walk starts and finishes at the Ballinamore Marina and takes about 4.5km along tranquil waters.
If the weather isn't on your side for a walk, or if you just fancy something a bit more low-key, then just outside of town you'll find the Glenview Folk Museum. It's a fascinating little spot that features over 6,000 items from a private collection including memorabilia from local writer John McGahern. Finish up the day with dinner in the Slieve Russell Hotel.
A trip to Marble Arch Caves, a UNESCO Global Geopark, is a must-do when you're in this part of the island. Among the finest show caves in Europe, these subterranean marvels – set at the foothills of Cuilcagh Mountain – are mesmerising and marvellous with their winding passages, rivers and echoing chambers. It's an unforgettable experience.
Once you've had your fix of underground intrigue, head to the charming town of Belturbet for a lovely lunch at the Seven Horseshoes pub. Open fires, soft lighting and an old wattle wood ceiling make this the kind of place you'll be happy to linger over a relaxed lunch. Afterwards, pop into Belturbet Heritage Railway, which is packed with hidden stories and fascinating history from the era of the Great Northern Railway and the Cavan and Leitrim Railway Lines.
More history, of a much older kind, can be found at the nearby Turbet Island, where the first European remnants of a woolly mammoth were found. While walking here, keep your eyes out for the motte and bailey, located on what was once a strategic crossing on the river.
It's about a half hour drive from Belturbet to Lough Oughter, where you'll find the stunningly beautiful Clough Oughter Castle, set on its own island. It may only be accessible by boat, but that's all part of the fun – opt for a guided motorboat tour with Cavan Adventure Centre or rent a kayak with them and discover it for yourself. After a busy day, the Olde Post Inn is the perfect retreat with cosy rooms and a critically acclaimed restaurant where you can indulge in the very best the Shannon-Erne region has to offer.