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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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