What's more, newly developed walking and cycling trails mean you can enjoy serenity, tranquility and rejuvenation off the water, as well as on it. In fact, there are 30km of walking trails at various locations, either running alongside the water or looping off it, while cyclists can enjoy over 12km of purpose-built trails.
From Leitrim Village, the Shannon-Erne Blueway stretches out to allow you to go off the beaten track and into the surrounding countryside. A perfect place to start is the pleasant 5km waterside walk from Lock 16, Killarcan. Winding along the line of the water all the way to Kilclare, the trail brings you across soft grass, over scenic bridges and beside glassy waters.
At the nearby town of Ballinamore, a newly developed cycle trail sweeps you away into the countryside. Around here, the crunch of the bicycle tyres along the track, the rush of the water at the locks and the chirruping of birds are likely to be the only sounds to interrupt the rural quiet.
For a mix of pedalling and pedestrian, start off at Lock 6 in Ballinamore. The canal-side off-road walking and cycling trail brings you through more lush swathes of countryside and alongside the water up to the old bridge at Aghoo. Passing through Ballinamore village, the family-friendly trail continues on the other side, mixing patches of forest, navy-coloured water and green fields towards Lock 7, Ballyduff. And if you haven't got your own two wheels, don't worry: Eileen and Seamus Gibbons from Electric Bike Trails, which is based in Leitrim Village, can help you out. They hire out bikes to take along this trail, or if you're after something more challenging, they also operate excursions into the nearby beautiful Iron Mountain or Sliabh an Iarainn.
The chance to immerse yourself deeper into the graceful green countryside comes at specific points on the Blueway, with walking trails at Leitrim Village, Ballinamore, Skelan, Ballyconnell and Belturbet. These really offer a chance for some quiet contemplation in a charming natural environment where life goes slow – and you can, too. And with distances of around 5km, the trails are perfect for old and young alike.
As the Shannon-Erne winds its way through County Cavan, it takes a fork in the water with one stretch reaching Belturbet and the other up to Crom. Head either way for more leg-stretching opportunities, but if it's Belturbet that your trail takes you to, grab a few cakes at Dinkin's Bakery and head over to Turbet Island for a picnic. It's a short walk, but it has a fascinating history (this is where the first ever remains of a woolly mammoth were found in Europe).
Opt for Crom Estate in Fermanagh at the fork, and you're in for lush greens and rippling waters. This National Trust Estate also boasts picturesque islands, lakes and historic castle ruins. Wild deer, rare pine martens and native bats all call this 2,000-acre demesne home, so strolls around here are guaranteed to captivate.
So get on your bike, put on your walking shoes and stick around a while to make the Shannon-Erne Blueway your destination with a difference.