Day 9. Lough Erne & Castle Coole – Enniskillen, Northern Ireland

The final day of our road trip had come around much too quickly, a sure sign that we’d been enjoying every minute.  Going down for breakfast at Belmore Court & Motel was one of the best as we started with cereals, fresh fruit, cheese, pastries and yoghurt.

Breakfast room at Belmore Court & Motel, Enniskillen
Breakfast room at Belmore Court & Motel,

If this wasn’t enough we then moved onto a full Irish accompanied with soda bread, black and white puddings, toast and chunky orange marmalade.  Being set up for the day, it was just as well that there was little time in our plans for a lunch stop.

Navar Forest Drive, County Fermanagh
Navar Forest Drive, County Fermanagh

After packing up the car for the final time, we were soon on our way to the Lough Navar Forest Drive 20 minutes from Enniskillen and located in the Marble Arch Caves geo-park.  The 7 mile (10km) scenic drive is clearly signposted and easy to drive along with its narrow section being one way traffic.

Navar Forest Drive, Fermanagh
Navar Forest Drive, Fermanagh

We followed the drive through the largest coniferous forest in Northern Ireland which rises to the top of the Magho cliffs.  These cliffs are a 5.5 mile long escarpment dominating the southern shore of the lough and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

View from the Magho Viewpoint, Fermanagh
View from the Magho Viewpoint

Free parking is available at the Magho viewpoint where we experienced spectacular views over lower Lough Erne, its many small islands and across to Donegal Bay and the Sperrin Mountains.

Magho Viewpoint, Navar Forest, Enniskillen
View of Lower Lough Erne from Magho Viewpoint

The viewpoint there has an information board indicating what could be seen in the distance, picnic tables and is the starting point for several walking trails.

Castle Coole, Enniskillen
Castle Coole, Enniskillen

Leaving there, we headed back towards Enniskillen along the main A4 road so that we could visit Castle Coole, a magnificent 18th century mansion set in landscaped grounds.  The property is owned by the National Trust who run 45 minute guided tours of the house (standard adult admission £5) or free for National Trust members.

Castle Coole Estate, Enniskillen
Castle Coole Estate

We approached the mansion along a magnificent tree lined avenue just in time for the first tour of the day at 11.00 a.m.  Our tour started in the grand entrance hall where our informative guide explained that this neo-classical country house had been built by the first Earl of Belmore in the 1790’s.  We had been staying at the nearby Belmore Court but didn’t realise the significance of the name until the start of our tour.

Tea Rooms at Castle Coole, Enniskillen
Tea Rooms at Castle Coole

We learnt that no expense was spared on the house which was built to impress and designed to outdo the home of his brother-in-law, the Earl of Enniskillen at nearby Florence Court (now also a National Trust property but closed at the time of our visit).  Our tour took us into numerous rooms over two floors, where we marvelled at the lavish interiors and viewed the state bedroom created for an expected Royal visit of King George IV which sadly never materialised.

Tunnel entrance, Castle Coole Estate, Enniskillen
Castle Coole Estate, Enniskillen

Photography is not permitted indoors so I am unable to illustrate the opulent rooms but Castle Coole is absolutely beautiful and I recommend fitting in a tour if you are visiting the Fermanagh Lakelands.

Castle Coole Grounds, Enniskillen
Grounds of Castle Coole

Our Irish adventure was almost at its end but on our way back to the City of Derry Airport we passed through Derry catching glimpses of this wonderful city that we had fallen in love with during the early part of our trip.

City of Derry Airport with Lottie Bear, the Loganair mascot
Returning to City of Derry Airport with Lottie Bear, the Loganair mascot

After stopping briefly to refuel our hire car we returned it to Hertz at the airport, seeing the same two friendly and helpful employees we had collected it from the week before.  After our first two days in Derry when we didn’t need a car, we had travelled 536 miles visiting many wonderful places and viewing some unforgettable sights on our journey.

Airside cafe, City of Derry Airport
The airside cafe where we enjoyed our cappuccinos

Checking in and making our way through security at Derry Airport was a dream and within a few minutes we were sitting down in the airside Fed and Watered cafe with large cups of frothy cappuccinos.  Returning to London Stansted with Loganair was a joy as we were very well looked after with complimentary light refreshments served during the 85 minute flight.

Clan MacDuff, Loganair, Derry Airport
Boarding our Loganair flight

It had been an epic trip starting in Derry before taking in the natural beauty of the Causeway Coast and Wild Atlantic Way, returning home with the most wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.  Thank you to everyone for taking such an interest in this series of posts and following our Irish travels.  Hopefully, I might now have inspired some of you to visit these places for yourselves.

Light refreshments on our Loganair flight
Lottie Bear looking after our snacks on our Loganair flight

During our road trip we were guests of Tourism Ireland and their regional partners and as always all views and opinions are entirely my own.

 

If you have enjoyed reading this post you may also like:

Exploring Derry, Northern Ireland

Giant’s Causeway & Boat Tour, Northern Ireland

 

If you use Pinterest please consider sharing and pinning the image below:Fermanagh Lakelands, Northern Ireland

 

41 thoughts on “Day 9. Lough Erne & Castle Coole – Enniskillen, Northern Ireland

  1. Such a great drive through the forest and amazing views over the lake. This inspires me to return back to Ireland and explore this area. Looks like you are so enjoying this trip. Merry Christmas and let’s have a best 2022 New Year. Anita

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The forest drive looks quite fascinating and so does the views over the lake. We’ve been wanting to go on a Lough Navar Forest Drive for a while as Enniskillen is so close to where we live. We finally attempted to do it a few months ago, but where disappointed to find the road closed due to the maintenance. We can always return next year 🤗 Thanks for sharing and have a good day ☺️ Aiva

    Liked by 4 people

    1. What a shame that the road was closed when you tried to take the Lough Navar Forest Drive Aiva as it’s so beautiful. Hopefully you’ll be able to return sometime next year. Have you climbed The Stairway to Heaven in the geopark near the Marble Arch Caves? I would like to attempt that on a future visit as we really enjoyed Enniskillen. Thanks so much for following along on our road trip, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We’ve been to the Marble Arch Caves a few times and on each occasion we went on a boat ride which I have to say was an adventure to remember for sure, but I haven’t climbed the Stairway to Heaven. It’s definitely on my wish list 🤗

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I have so loved following along on your Ireland trip! I just can’t get enough of those beautiful green hills and the striking cliffside views of the ocean. Sad to see this series come to an end, but also looking forward to seeing where you take us next 🙂 Merry Christmas Marion to you and your from me and mine!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve thoroughly had a wonderful time reading your Ireland travel series. Your photos in this post show just how absolutely green and iconic the country is, and they have since inspired me to return to explore the country’s nature– there’s a whole lot more to Ireland than just Dublin, that’s for sure!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. You are always set for the day, when you start with a full Irish. No black or white puddings for me, thanks. The forest drive and views look spectacular. Glad you had a great trip to the North. Thanks for sharing Marion. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

  6. A fittingly splendid end to what looked like a great trip Marion. What I would give right now for an Irish (or English/Scottish/Welsh you name it) breakfast. Absolutely idyllic scenes from the forest drive and resulting viewpoint. Sladja and I would also be up for some exploring around Castle Coole, some great history there.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks Leighton, it was a wonderful 10 day trip and it just goes to show that you can derive just as much pleasure from a holiday in the British Isles as you can travelling somewhere exotic. Hopefully you’ll both be able to tuck into a traditional British breakfast in a few weeks time on your return to the UK. I’ve just had one in the centre of Manchester and it tasted delicious as always! Lovely sunny day here hope it’s nice with you too.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I love the narrow road through the countryside. Talk about a scenic drive. The view from the Magho viewpoint of the coastline is spectacular. Sounds like you had a fantastic time in Northern Ireland. You have definitely provided inspiration and motivation for us to visit. Hopefully next year, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens with this new variant and fourth wave.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. What a beautiful photo of the road between those high trees! And you had such beautiful views after your scenic drive. And a visit to yet another castle – love it!
    Thank you Marion for taking me along on your Ireland trip … I’ve enjoyed it very much and saw beautiful places I never even heard of before!

    Liked by 4 people

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