Escape into a watery idyll edged with incredible forests, gorgeous cliffs and the friendly, upbeat town of Enniskillen.
The first thing you notice about County Fermanagh is the water. It laps softly at jetties that push out into glinting, navy-coloured loughs. It leaps into view as you drive around Lower Lough Erne, where heavy swathes of dense green forests pull back to reveal breathtaking glimpses of blue. And it soothes the senses with its hypnotic liquid beauty. Whether you’re enjoying a lakeside walk, kayaking around a clutch of tobacco-coloured islands, or cruising to lunch at a riverside restaurant, the water is always by your side.
Linked by the winding River Erne, Lough Erne is actually made up out of two lakes – Upper and Lower Lough Erne, and has the bustling town of Enniskillen at its geographical heart. Visit here in summer and you’ll find a lively spot that feels constantly in motion. Cruisers roll slowly into town carrying groups of families and friends for lunch at cosy pubs and quirky restaurants; kayakers and paddlers set off from quiet jetties; and ferries criss-cross the waters heading for the monastic island of Devenish and the mysterious carvings of White Island.
Standing strong over the shimmering waters, Enniskillen Castle holds the key to many of the area’s secrets and in the Fermanagh County Museum you’ll find everything from Bronze Age gold torcs to the history of the Maguires, who ruled over Fermanagh for more than 300 years. It’s a good place to get a sense of this romantic part of the island – a place that has inspired poets, musicians, artists and pilgrims. The waterways here have endured Viking invasions, been graced with pious monks and seen towns and villages grow up around their shores. Rich with history, enveloped in nature and pulsing with life, Upper and Lower Lough Erne are one of the most pleasurable parts of Ireland in which to lose track of time.
There are forests extravagantly adorned in velvety green moss; there are National Trust mansions, sumptuous estates and gracious gardens; and there are crumbling castles and stunning cliffs, quirky museums and quaint cafés. Beauty comes naturally to this part of the island with a green, idyllic landscape that acts like a balm for busy, stressed-out souls. And before you know it, you’ll have fallen for its charm.