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Be king of two castles on Co Fermanagh ride

By Linda Stewart

The town of Enniskillen lies on an island at the junction between Upper and Lower Lough Erne so this route linking Enniskillen Castle and Castle Coole takes in some glorious views.

The Castle to Castle route is a short, signed route right in the heart of Enniskillen. It is 90% traffic-free and suitable for families with children who are confident cyclists.

This is a link off the Kingfisher trail, National Cycle Network Route 91, and is on well-surfaced roads between the magnificent Enniskillen Castle and Castle Coole, one of the National Trust's finest treasures.

Directions

The route is a link off the long distance Kingfisher cycle trail. Enniskillen Castle lies just off the Wellington Road (A4) on the riverside, close to the Wellington Road Bridge. The route is signed with a Castle to Castle logo.

Set off from Enniskillen Castle, situated on the River Erne. Almost 600 years old, it was built by Gaelic Maguires and guarded one of the few routes into ancient Ulster. Today it houses two museums: Fermanagh County Museum and The Inniskillings Museum.

Leaving Enniskillen Castle, cycle along the riverside pathway towards the Fermanagh Lakeland Forum, passing the newly developed playpark. From here, cross the footbridge and onto the path beyond, leading into a leafy suburb. The views back across the town, river and lough are fantastic.

Push on towards the Ardhowen Theatre and cross the A4 road with caution. The long avenue up to Castle Coole Estate is just ahead, providing a great escape to the country along the many walkways and an opportunity to visit an architectural masterpiece.

Cyclists can return via the same route, calling at all the attractions you might have passed on the way.

The Backdrop

Enniskillen Castle, situated beside the River Erne in County Fermanagh, was built almost 600 years ago by Gaelic Maguire chieftains. The chieftain at the time, King Thomas Maguire (Thomas the Great) ruled from Lisnaskea in the south-eastern part of the county.

His younger brother, Hugh ‘The Hospitable’ Maguire, was deputy chieftain and he is credited with building Enniskillen Castle and locating it in a strong defensive position beside the River Erne.

The original castle, a small square tower-house, guarded one of the few passes into Ulster and defended Fermanagh from attack, particularly from the neighbouring O’Rourke and O’Donnell clans. In the 17th century it became an English garrison fort and later served as part of a military barracks.

The old castle keep, which originated in the early 15th century, now houses The Inniskillings Museum and the Fermanagh County Museum. The latter is also housed in a custom-built museum erected nearby by Fermanagh District Council in 1992.

The Inniskillings Museum’s collections relate mainly to the history of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and include regimental uniforms, weapons, standards, badges, medals, engravings and photographs. In pride of place is the bugle sounded at the charge of the regiment in the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

Castle Coole is a stunning 18th-century mansion set in a beautiful wooded park. It is one of Ireland's finest neo-classical houses. The sumptuous Regency interior and the State Bedroom prepared for George IV provide a rare treat for visitors, allowing them to glimpse what life was like in the home of the Earls of Belmore.

Further information

For further information on cycling or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) tel: 028 9030 3930 or cycleni.com.

CAAN in association with Belfast Telegraph have provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.

Cycle Name: Castle to Castle.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Fermanagh.

Nearest town to start: Enniskillen.

Distance: 3 miles linear.

Terrain: On public road.

Refreshments: Cafés, restaurants and toilets are available along route.

Publications: The Kingfisher Trail leaflet is available from sustransshop.co.uk. Leaflet will also be available from Enniskillen Tourist Information Centre.

Cycle Developed By: Sustrans and Fermanagh District Council.

Map: Sheet 18 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk)

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