I headed West during the week and drove to Fermanagh. Over the years Fermanagh has been a great place for many a family mini-break, whether it be at the lodges at Manor House, or hiring a cruiser on Lough Erne meeting up with friends and enjoying the craic over a BBQ. It was always a great time.
I chose to stay at Tullymill Cottages again this time (my 3rd or 4th trip since Georgie arrived on the scene!), and was allocated the ‘Claddagh Cottage’ on this occasion (3 star NI Tourist Board rating). A three bedroom ground floor cottage (fully accessible) with fully kitted out kitchen, living area with open fire, and TV. The kitchen has a back door which leads out into an enclosed garden, so it is ideal for dogs to ‘do their business’ and run about without worrying where they’ve gone. Onsite is Tullymill restaurant which was unfortunately closed during our stay – a knock on effect of Covid-19, but it is open for Take-away at the weekends. The last time we stayed we had a fabulous meal, so were disappointed, however this situation is to be expected for a while until the hospitality sector gets back on it’s feet again.
If you are looking for a quiet, relaxing break, then Tullymill ticks those boxes. It’s situated directly across the road from Florence Court National Trust property. Currently you need to reserve your time slot to enter the grounds (the house is still currently closed), but the grounds are beautiful and the walled garden full of fruit and vegetables. Being so close to the grounds, there is a gate just opposite the cottages that leads onto the trails of Florence Court so you can access them and enjoy a great walk around the red trail (approx 9.6km), which will take you past the Deer Park and the rear of the Mansion house. You will also pass the Oldest Yew Tree in Ireland, where many a sapling was taken, and the reason the tree is no longer looking it’s best!
A few miles down the road from Tullymill are the Marble Arch Caves. The Visitor Centre is open and tours will restart on the 13th July (minus the boat excursion as social distancing is not possible). The Visitor Centre is very interesting, and you can freely walk around it, and also take the walk down to the waterfall – it can be slippy, due to the damp conditions but it is worth it (my calves felt the steps on the way back up)! I left Georgie at the top with my Mum while I did the investigating, and I would not recommend trying to take your dog down, so best to stay on the upper ground!
You’re not too far from anything at Tullymill – about a 10/15 minute drive to a shop or small village. I remember years ago pulling into Bellanaleck Jetty, and we headed to The Sheelin for lunch – I will never forget their wheaten bread! It was just delicious. The Sheelin is now a brewery! We drove down to the jetty for a trip down memory lane, and the jetty was full of cruisers. If you fancy a cruising holiday and have never tried, then contact Wendy at Carrick Craft as they have two dog friendly cruisers for hire on Lough Erne. They are based in Bellanaleck too, right beside the dog friendly Moorings restaurant.
There’s a slower pace of life in Fermanagh, I should really have stayed a week! Being so busy getting the new Dog’s Guide to NI ready for print, and getting the new Dog Friendly Guru website launched, a few days away was much needed.
The sun came out on the final day of the trip, which was very welcome and warm – we drove into Enniskillen and wandered around Enniskillen Castle and the short trail along the banks of Lough Erne. I managed to be there at the right time, as a boat cruised by with a gorgeous labrador on board, letting the wind blow between his ears. He certainly looked like he was having a great time. In terms of dog friendly activities in Fermanagh – it is pretty limited I’m afraid. Erne Water Taxi will allow a small dog on board – I did this a few years back taking the tour out to Devenish Island. Really interesting trip and we all had a great time when we disembarked on Devenish Island for a nosey about. Highly recommend it.
If you do venture into the town, Pat’s Bar is dog friendly and has re-opened after lockdown. They do great food, and an even better pint of Guinness. As for other dog friendly establishments in the town, there aren’t too many to note, other than the Jolly Sandwich bar which is outside seating only.
What is to be mentioned is the Killyhevlin Hotel and Lodges just outside the town. Their lodges are dog friendly, and you are permitted to have a bite to eat and drink with your dog in the reception area of the hotel.
It’s disappointing that Northern Ireland visitor attractions haven’t quite got to grips with the ‘dog friendly’ experience. When you look across to the mainland at the many dog friendly venues, Northern Ireland really needs to up it’s game. It’s such an easy thing to do, especially in places like Castles, Museums, Distilleries and Visitor Centres. There are several dog friendly distilleries in Scotland – I wonder who will be the first distillery to open it’s doors for dog friendly tours in NI? I know of one that is definitely a dog lover!! So come on Museums, Visitor Attractions, Boat trips and cafes – embrace this opportunity of dog friendly staycations, and attract more customers by welcoming our four legged friends in. Always happy to chat with businesses that have queries, plus you can enjoy a FREE Listing on the new website to promote them!
For a full list of dog friendly accommodation in Fermanagh – click here.
Venues include: Belmore Court Hotel, Enniskillen Hotel, Pat’s Bar, Killyhevlin Hotel and Lodges, Lusty Beg Island and Resort, Tullymill Cottages, Mahon’s Hotel, Carrick Craft Cruiser Hire and Belle-Isle Cottages.
The Tourist Information centre is situated at Enniskillen Castle and you can also visit their website here.