Sunset at Lough MacNean, County Fermanagh.
Fermanagh is Northern Ireland’s lake district, beloved for its stunning scenery, historical landmarks and diverse experiences.
Here are 10 of the best.
1. Enjoy an underground boat trip
Take a subterranean boat trip through the watery show caves of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geo park. Taste the deliciously cool damp air as you are guided through underground rivers, secret winding passages and lofty chambers. This truly spectacular natural wonder is best experienced on hot sunny days from March to September.
2. See Florence Court in the autumn
The joys of Florence Court are obvious at any time, but in early autumn they are awesome. Enjoy kicking crisp leaves and searching for horse chestnuts, and if the rose bushes are still in bloom, you will catch their gentle perfume. Tour the mansion or explore the walled garden and pleasure grounds, and don’t miss the famous Florence Court yew tree.
3. Live like a president at Lough Erne
Stay in Lough Erne Resort’s lakeside lodges where G8 world leaders laid their heads – it’s best to sleep with the curtains open and witness the morning light trickling across the lough. David Cameron went swimming in the lough and Barack Obama went to the gym. You can do the same or enjoy the deep relaxation of the spa, exquisite food, and golf on the Nick Faldo designed course.
4. Go island hopping
Hire a cruiser for some island-hopping on the lakelands and you will never regret it. Devenish Island, White Island, Boa Island and Inish Corkish, home to Fermanagh's Black Bacon, and another 150 islands can be all your own for a few hours or even overnight alone with nature. Or, let someone else steer: hop on board the Erne Water Taxi.
5. Explore Enniskillen Castle
Set on the edge of the River Erne, Enniskillen Castle dominates it's home town. The visitor experience brings to life the castle’s entire 600-year history, first as the Maguire family stronghold and on through to Fermanagh’s important role in World War II. There are two museums to explore, the Inniskillings Museum and Enniskillen Castle Museums.
6. Sleep beneath the stars
The roof of a Finn Lough bubble dome is a 360-degree window to the night sky. Dazzling in the summer and so cosy in the longer autumnal nights, this is a magical stargazing experience. If you manage to leave the pod, the Finn Lough site includes a lovely restaurant, plus fishing, boats, tennis, walking trails and an indoor play area for children.
7. Take the Belleek Pottery tea test
It’s a well-known fact: tea tastes better when it’s served in Belleek cups. Take the 30-minute tour of the historic factory and witness the ongoing production of the delicate pottery. Follow that with some excellent Belleek shopping and then it will be time for the tea shop to see if your tea tastes better.
8. Fish on Lough Erne
With such a vast expanse of water so perfectly suited to fishing, every day on Lough Erne can be a different adventure. You never know what you might hook next, but with trout and salmon among the top targets and superb coarse fishing in some of the best boat and bank fishing grounds in Europe, all types of angler can succeed here.
9. Snoop around a magnificent mansion
Castle Coole is the other big house in Fermanagh. Dating back to 1798, it is an opulent display of the era. Take in the stately ‘upstairs’ grandeur, then visit the huge basement where an army of servants worked downstairs, and exit via their underground tunnel. Take a long walk on the estate, have a picnic or drop into the tea shop for a treat.
10. Paddle the lakes
Roaming on a canoe or kayak is a serene way to traverse Fermanagh’s lakelands. All you’ll hear is the soft slap of the water on your hull, and the cry of the curlew or lapwing. Upper Lough Erne has sheltered bays for beginners, while Lower Lough Erne’s windier waters provide waves for experienced paddlers.