Lower Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - Northern Ireland - Fermanagh -

Also known as:  Lower Lake Erne, Lake Earne

Lower Lough (Lake) Erne is one of several lakes on the beautiful River Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The River Erne begins in County Cavan and flows 64 miles north through Loch Gowna, Lough Oughter and Upper and Lower Lough Erne before meeting with the Atlantic Ocean at Ballyshannon. The area around Lower Lough Erne is surrounded by scenic, rolling farmland and incredible limestone mountains. Unlike some of the more popular areas of Northern Ireland, Fermanagh offers many attractions without heavy tourism and commercialism. The jewel in Fermanagh’s crown is Lower Lough Erne, renowned for its beautiful shoreline scenery and ideal conditions for fishing, boating, and other water-related activities.

Lower Lough Erne covers 26,934 acres and is one of the largest lakes in Northern Ireland. The shimmering waters are located in the Lakeland area of County Fermanagh, and when combined with Upper Lough Erne, stretch 50 miles long and have the greatest area of open water per boat of any cruising lake in Europe. With the reopening of the Shannon-Erne Waterway, a canal linking the River Shannon in the Republic of Ireland with the River Erne in Northern Ireland, there are now 500 miles of navigable water to take boaters and tourists from the city of Belleek to the city of Limerick.

Bordered by spectacular cliffs rising as high as 900 feet, Lower Lough Erne is popular with boaters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts. Both Lower and Upper Erne lakes are home to many small islands and peninsulas which helped the area survive the Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s. The potato blight was unable to cross the water, and the islands produced healthy amounts of potatoes while the mainland nearly starved.

Canoeing is one of the most popular recreational sports on Lower Lough Erne. With its many coves, inlets and islands, paddlers have plenty of opportunity to visit historic sites, explore castle ruins, and observe the local wildlife and waterfowl in a natural setting. Motor boating and waterskiing are also popular pastimes on the open water. Waves can make navigation a bit of a challenge on windy days, but numerous bays and inlets offer shelter and calmer water. Unlike the River Shannon and the Erne-Shannon canal, the River Erne is virtually free of lock gates. The Erne has only one lock, which is rarely used, making it a hassle-free cruising paradise. Lower Lough Erne is a more open expanse of water than the Upper Lough with contains over 90 islands clustered along the southern shore.

For anglers, the islands and bays of Lower Lough Erne provide vast areas of shallow water and rocky shores for ideal fishing grounds. The average depth of the lake is 39 feet with a maximum depth of 226 feet. Although a limited number of salmon can be found in the lake, wild brown trout are the most sought after species. BAnglers can expect to catch bream, roach, rudd, hybrids, perch, tench, pike, and eel. With an abundance of streams and rivers in the Fermanagh area, opportunities abound to shore fish or fly fish for salmon, wild brown trout, stocked rainbow and brown trout. Boats and fishing guides are available for rent, and marinas around the lake offer boat launches. There are also plenty of public jetties, mooring buoys and small marinas with waterside shops selling provisions.

Accommodations on Lower Lough Erne are as varied as the lake itself and range from five star luxury hotel resorts to cozy, country bed and breakfasts. Self-catering holiday homes and cottages also line the shoreline. Five-star caravan parks can be found throughout the area and offer space and facilities for touring caravans, motor caravans, and tents. Families on holiday will have no problem finding a place to stay, even in the busy summer months.

For hikers and bikers, County Fermanagh is part of The National Cycle Network in Northern Ireland and offers an incredible network of trails that provide spectacular views of Lower Lough Erne and the beautiful Fermanagh area. All trails are marked and vary from traffic-free and family-friendly to more challenging long-distance routes. For the adventurous soul, Fermanagh can be explored from top to bottom by first climbing to the top of Lough Navar Forest, followed by a descent into the Marble Arch Caves. The unique limestone geology of County Fermanagh is rich with caves and potholes.

The area surrounding Lower Lough Erne is famous for its historic sites, castle ruins and stately homes. One of the most interesting islands in Lower Lough Erne is Devenish Island. In the middle ages, a chain of island monasteries inhabited the lake. Devenish Island is home to a 12th-century tower which was once an important port of call. The island also has a small church and the ruins of an Augustinian abbey. Other islands of interest include Boa Island with its ancient cemetery and stone idols, and White and Inishmacsaint Island with their unique statues and religious ruins.

The historic island town of Enniskillen is located between Lower Lough Erne and Upper Lough Erne. The town offers a wide range of unique shops and pubs. Its location between the two great lakes gives the area an almost continental feel. A highlight of the town is the sprawling Enniskillen Castle, built in the 16th century.

Whether you are a first time visitor or a seasoned traveler, Lower Lough Erne is always unforgettable. Take a tour of the world famous Belleek Pottery factory, an underground boat journey through an alien world of stalagmites and stalactites, or a scenic drive to the top of Lough Navar Forest with its panoramic cliff-top views of the distant Donegal Mountains. For the golf fanatic, several golf resorts can be found in the area. Whatever your desire, you’ll soon discover why so many people return year after year to this truly incredible Lakeland paradise.

Things to do at Lower Lough Erne

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Water Skiing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Ruins

Fish species found at Lower Lough Erne

  • Brown Trout
  • Eel
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Roach
  • Salmon
  • Tench
  • Trout

Lower Lough Erne Photo Gallery

Lower Lough Erne Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Water Level Control: Northern Ireland Rivers Agency

Surface Area: 26,934 acres

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 148 feet

Average Depth: 39 feet

Maximum Depth: 226 feet

Completion Year: 1840

Water Residence Time: 0.42 years

Drainage Area: 1,626 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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