The 300 square miles of water of Lough Erne has a place in the heart of Irish mythology. The lake may be named after Erne, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Meabh, who is said to have drowned in the lough while fleeing a giant.
What is known is that the Annals of Ulster – a rich historical source with records of Irish affairs between 431 and 1540 – were written on Belle Isle. The island is also home to the Belle Isle Castle, a 17th century landmark that now houses a cookery school.
But most people visit Lough Erne to sail, or fish, or canoe. Anglers can find wild brown trout, salmon, pike, bream, perch and pike, and sailors and cruisers can enjoy the waters without worrying about commercial ferries – there are none on the lake. Canoeists can spend days paddling around Lough Erne and camping rough on the shores, and it’s also possible to water ski.
It’s not compulsory to venture onto the water – there are cycling routes around Lough Erne and many walking trails to enjoy the calm waters and wildlife. Lapwings, curlews and terns fly around the islands and if you move slowly and carefully, you might see badgers, otters, hares and stoats in the woods.