Ireland Idyll: A Guide to the Emerald Isle's Waterways

Upper and Lower Lough Erne

Situated on the western edge of northwest Europe, the Lough Erne offers magnificent scenery and a wide range of active pursuits. But the lake's two regions have quite distinct physical environments. The Lower Lough Erne (which is actually above its other half) is an expanse of water surrounded by mountains, while the Upper Lough Erne is a narrow waterway with sprinklings of small islands.

Cruising between the regions, you'll discover that cultural delights are forced to share the spotlight with the region's natural marvels. The town of Bellanaleck hosts the Museum of Irish Lace and Florence Court, a stunning Georgian mansion with intricate plaster work—one of two National Trust spots along the Erne. You can also explore Fermanagh from top to bottom, first by ascending to the top of Lough Navar Forest, followed by a descent into Marble Arch Caves, a subterranean splendor of stalagmites and stalactites. And near Lisnaskea, you can follow the route the Vikings sailed 1,000 years ago, before exploring village markets rich with authentic crystal and handmade goods.
An equestrian center at Irvinetown's Necarne Castle is a must-stop for horseback riding enthusiasts, but the main sporting attraction of the Lakelands is the fishing. Heralded as world-class, the region's angling lures thousands each year. Locals like to claim they are "hooked for life" on the Erne. Cast your line, and you're likely to be hooked too.

Linda Samuel is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.

Published: 18 Oct 2001 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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