If you have been following for a while you’ll know that I’m always passionately vocal about how much Northern Ireland has to offer in terms of tourism. From beaches to banter, castles to coastlines, forest walks to food, I feel like it’s a little place that is putting itself more definitely on the map as a must-see. We pride ourselves on having a pretty good knowledge of most places locally, but always love a new discovery, and so we were particularly excited to explore Blessingbourne Estate over St Patrick’s weekend.
Blessingbourne is a historic 550 acre estate, set on the edge of the Clogher Valley and Fermanagh Lakelands, an area that we know really well. We’ve actually driven past it many times on our way to the lakes, and so it was so lovely to stop off and explore the beautiful grounds for ourselves.
We arrived to the five star self-catering Gate Lodge on Saturday afternoon, complete with all three kids and Ernie too. Possibly the best bit about the whole ethos of Blessingbourne is that pets are welcome (and actually actively encouraged! Owners Colleen and Nick have many dogs of their own and Ernie was made to feel so at home!) The Gate Lodge itself is stunning (and so cosy, particularly given the freezing weather outside) with a wood burning stove, open plan kitchen/ sitting room and three beautiful bedrooms. We also had been left a little welcome pack with bread, milk, coffee and tea, and a gorgeous homemade chocolate cake (which I ate a good 80% of, not going to lie. 😉 )
After settling in we headed out to explore and stretch our legs, and used one of the many walking trails that the estate has to offer. Despite the freezing temperatures and snow showers, it gave us the most beautiful views of the original house, lake and forest trails that are also used for mountain biking.
With a play park, games barn, bicycle hire and on-site fishing all available, there are so many activities to keep you busy whilst at Blessingbourne. We’re already thinking about a return trip in warmer weather, to avail of some of the things we weren’t brave enough to try in the cold!
On Sunday, after a dawn walk and hearty breakfast, we headed up to collect some bikes and try out some of the thirteen kilometres of mountain bike trails. Andrew took the three kids on a slightly tamer one first off, before he and Eva tried something a bit more advanced. There were lots of groans when standing up from the sofa on Sunday evening so I’m assuming they were challenging enough! 😉
All-in-all we had the best twenty four hours at Blessingbourne. It’s testament to the relaxing nature of a place when you go home feeling like you’ve been away much longer. Rested and revived – I think that’s the lasting memory I’ll have of our time there. A slower pace of life and time spent in the very centre of nature with my favourite people (and dogs!). We can’t wait to go back!
** We were invited to stay at the Gate Lodge for the purposes of writing this piece. I was not paid to do so, or obliged to share socially. We will only ever share things that we truly love, and all words, images and opinions are entirely our own.**