When it comes to the Shannon-Erne Blueway, however, the glove fits. Think you know everything about this rural idyll? Think you know everything about this rural idyll? Read on...
1. Lough Scur:
The soft, rippling waters of Lough Scur masks a time in the 1700s when a cruel chieftain called John Reynolds lived on its banks. Rumours swirl that he once beheaded local rivals in order to gain power in the area. What does remain is Jail Island, a foreboding square fortress where Reynolds once threw his enemies… Paddle this lough and you can still see remains of the prison today.
2. Equestrian Centre at Drumcoura:
Fancy yourself as a bit of a John Wayne? Well, make your way to the Equestrian Centre at Drumcoura (drumcoura.ie). Specialising in Western horse riding, the centre is the perfect place to take the reins just like they do in the films! The equestrian centre has a huge covered arena, two outdoor arenas and horse-riding trails, as well as an archery range, tennis court and a jetty for lake fishing.
3. Costello Chapel:
Romance is IN the stones at Costello Chapel (carrickonshannonparish.com/costello), a souvenir-sized memorial chapel in Carrick-on-Shannon with a huge heart. Erected by local merchant Edward Costello after the premature death of his wife, Mary Josephine, in 1877, the couple's coffins still rest under glass today.
4. Bear Essentials:
The Shannon-Erne Blueway has one of the few Teddy Bear Hospitals on the island at Bear Essentials(bearessentials.ie), so pack up all your fluffy-loved ones and bring 'em along! Located at the border of Fermanagh and Leitrim, there's a teddy bear gift shop and a collection of early 20th century bears…. Perfect for the teddy-obsessed, young and old.
5. Clough Oughter Castle:
When does a castle not have four towering walls? When it's Clough Oughter Castle in County Cavan, which is round – not square! Dating back to the 13th century, this sturdy structure has witnessed rebellions, been bombarded by cannons and has even been used as a prison over the centuries. For boat trips to the castle or to hire a canoe or kayak visit http://cavancanoeing.com/
6. Battlebridge Camping & Glamping:
Camping goes upscale at Battlebridge (battlebridgecaravanandcamping.ie), with glamping units overlooking sylvan Leitrim fields. Bliss. Or, if you fancy it, stay in a cabin on stilts!
7. Sliabh an Iarainn:
Look up as the beautiful Iron Mountain or Sliabh an Iarainn comes into view as you travel through County Leitrim. Beautiful walking trails bring you into the landscape – a place so appealing that it was the landing place of Tuatha dé Danann, a mythical race of god-like people who had incredible powers. Great walking trails here offer the chance to explore this majestic area.
8. Corleggy Cheeses:
Tucked away within the soft rolling hills of County Cavan sits a fairytale-style white cottage fringed with Santa-coloured red. This is the home of Corleggy Cheeses (corleggycheeses.ie), whose name aptly translates as "little windy hill". It's an unassuming little place for the hand-crafting of a cheese that has been ranked in the top 2% in the world, when it won a Super Gold at the 2016 World Cheese Awards. Keep your eye out for the cheeses to try yourself in supermarkets, delis and restaurants around the Blueway.
9. Cavan Burren Park:
Tread carefully across the blanket of green moss and soft grass around the Cavan Burren Park(www.cavanburrenpark.ie), as ancient secrets lie underfoot. This is one of the most exceptional prehistoric landscapes in Ireland, where a tropical sea once ebbed and flowed 350 million years ago.
10. Belturbet Railway Station:
Explore the great railway age at the beautifully restored Belturbet Railway Station. It's a real delight with vintage equipment, the stationmaster's house and platform.