Experiencing the tranquility of the waterside is like discovering an unknown world. The unexpected angles and unusual perspectives bring priceless moments of newness and changed perspectives. Leave the car at the bank, steer a cruiser through the vast liquid maze of interconnected lakes, rivers and canals and one long continuous stream of these moments will unfold before you. Sunrise, sunset, mists and frost meet the waterways in stunning compositions – be inspired to see them for yourself.
There are many ways to skim the surface of this warren of waterways. From genteel walks around the National Trust Estates at Crom or Florence Court to off-road cycling in the Lough Key Forest Park or Cavan’s Cuilcagh Mountains. Choose a path, any path, and let nature show you the way.
Paddle power is one option. Slip on to the Lough Erne Canoe Trail, which runs for over 50km of scenic water-filled terrain between Belturbet in Cavan to Belleek in Fermanagh. Pack your binoculors, as the route is heavenly for bird and wildlife spotters. Hop ashore at any of the multitude of tiny islands lining your route, but be sure to not bypass Devenish Island’s 6th Century monastic ruins.
Of course, there’s also good, old-fashioned peddle power. The Kingfisher Trail, Ireland’s first long-distance cycling trail, winds through counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan, Roscommon and Fermanagh, twisting and turning its way around the same watery maze as a boat would. Piecing together over 300 clearly signposted routes, it will take you over quiet country lanes to unspoilt two-pub villages that beg to be appreciated over a quiet tea-break and bar chit-chat.
Those traditional enough to see our waterways from the water can get the detailed chart of the Shannon-Erne Waterway showing the location of locks and facilities such as camping areas, showers and toilets.
However our waterways grab you, the glistening waters and grassy banks will always be a place where history can enthrall, natural wonders-captivate, and time seems to stand still.