Planning a trip to the Lakelands (and if you’re not, why not?) There are plenty of options to keep you occupied, rain, hail or shine...
The first place most people start is in Enniskillen, the only island town in any part of Ireland. The locals say you have to be born between the bridges to count as a true native, however, the town has grown so much in recent decades, that’s unlikely now. The main street through the town changes name six times but you’d hardly notice as you browse the many independent retailers in this busy town. Don’t forget to pick up some Fermanagh Black Bacon from O’Doherty’s butchers. The big high street names are also there, many of them in Erneside Shopping Centre which you can reach by conventional means, or if you prefer, park up your boat to do your shopping.
There are quite a few decent cafes and restaurants for your essential coffee and lunch breaks, or you could go the whole hog and book into the Enniskillen Taste Experience tour, which expects to be up and running again from mid-August. Combine shopping and eating with culture by stopping off at the Buttermarket and watching the artists at work.
Many of the main attractions have reopened – as elsewhere, prebooking is now required for most.
As no visit to Fermanagh is complete without taking to the water, it’s time to hire a cruiser or a kayak. Erne Water Taxis are looking at an August reopening but you can hire a boat from Manor Marine at the Manor House Hotel. There are many intriguing islands to explore, not least Devenish with its 6th century church and round tower which can only be accessed by ladder. If you’re hiring from the Manor, a must visit is Castle Archdale Country Park and just off its shore, White Island which is famed for its peculiar stone figures.
Later, treat yourself to dinner at the Lough Erne Golf Resort, where chef Noel McMeel serves up the best of local produce.
Today, it’s off to Florence Court Estate, UNESCO Global Geopark which has a new, above ground tour, Unlocking the Hidden Worlds of Cladagh Glen Guided Walking Tour. The caves really are worth exploring and you feel completely safe - again pre-booking is now essential.
After working up quite the appetite, book into one of the many excellent restaurants in the area. A popular favourite is Franco’s Restaurant in Enniskillen, where you’ll get everything from seafood to steak to pizzas.
For drinks afterwards, Pat’s Bar has funky beach huts outside while the iconic Blake’s of the Hollow aims to open next week.
For up to date information on bookings and reopenings, visit www.fermanaghlakelands.com