Crom Estate, County Fermanagh.
From clifftop views to cookery schools, you’ll be surprised at what you find when you go off the beaten track in Fermanagh.
Drive through Navar Forest
Any Fermanagh local will recommend the seven-mile drive through Navar Forest. The view from the car park at the top of the cliff looks over Lough Erne from Enniskillen to Donegal and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of the most amazing views you will ever see. Alternatively, you can walk along the boardwalk trails in the forest.
See the prettiest shop in Northern Ireland
Swathes of antique lace, vintage clothes, bridal veils, jewellery and gloves will seduce you in a beautiful spectacular at the thatched Sheelin Lace Shop. Then go next door to the Sheelin Kitchen, and what might be the most decadent display of treats and desserts in the country.
Sleep the night away
Life slows down in Fermanagh, so there is nowhere better for a relaxing break. The fresh air and lakeside stillness induces deep, generous sleep. Book accommodation at a lakeside cottage, on one of Lough Erne’s islands or maybe on a cruiser, and enjoy every moment of your slumber.
Board the Railway Museum
Possibly the most must not miss experience in Fermanagh – The Headhunters Barbers Shop & Railway Museum has a truly marvellous collection of memorabilia that should fascinate everyone, not just railway enthusiasts. Hear how railways opened up the lives of Fermanagh people, and if you need a haircut you can get one of those too… but no pressure, and free entry.
Great food and drink
County Fermanagh is full of excellent restaurants and pubs to enjoy the craic and a pint of something black by a lit fire. Blakes of the Hollow in Enniskillen (home to a Game of Thrones door) and Café Merlot are great spots to spend an evening. For pizza head to Franco’s and for a taste of Greece that never fails, it must be Dollakis.
Go castle hunting
Fermanagh has castles aplenty – proper castles, with turrets, follies and expansive gardens. Get your medieval tabard on and explore the hidden castles of Tully and Monea. (Please note that the gardens at Tully Castle are currently undergoing restoration work). Alternatively book a stay in the unbelievably beautiful Belle Isle Castle, or live like a lord and lady with afternoon tea at Crom Castle.
Cook up a storm
A ‘stay and cook’ kind of place, Belle Isle Cookery School is right next to the luxury Belle Isle Castle and a host of cosy self-catering cottages. Chef Joe Kelly and his assistants will take you on a culinary adventure whether you are a complete beginner or an experienced cook. A great spot to get away to for an enjoyable day’s cooking and eating.
Build a sandcastle
What? Fermanagh has no coast. But Mullans beach at Kesh has enough sand and water for you to have the perfect seaside experience with safe waters for little ones to paddle. Bring a picnic, skim a few stones and don’t forget the bucket and spade.
Discover some Celtic mystery
The cemetery on Boa Island is home to two unique stone idol carvings dating back to Celtic times.The larger is a fascinating Janus figure; the smaller, known as ‘Lustyman’, is thought to be a female. Close by are White Island and Devenish Island also full of Celtic mythology and early Christian symbols. Explore it all via a pleasant boat trip from Castle Archdale.
Take home a Buttermarket memento
The ambience in the Buttermarket Craft and Design Centre, a restored early nineteenth-century dairy market, couldn’t be nicer. Wander the cobbled courtyard, craft workshops, studios and galleries watching the experts at work. Have a coffee, then take home a contemporary or traditional memento of Enniskillen and Fermanagh.