Upper Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Lake Locations:

United Kingdom - Northern Ireland - Fermanagh -

Also known as:  Upper Lake Erne

Upper Lough Erne is a sparkling 8,525-acre lake on the scenic River Erne in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. The River Erne begins in County Cavan and flows north through Loch Gowna, Lough Oughter, Upper Lough Erne and Lower Lough Erne, a distance of 64 miles, before meeting with the Atlantic Ocean near the village of Ballyshannon. Unlike Lower Lough Erne, which offers wide open expanses of water, Upper Lough Erne is a maze of channels and islands. Exploring the many inlets, islands and bays is a boating enthusiast’s dream and a wonderful destination for anglers and nature lovers.

One of our most popular areas for coarse fishing in Northern Ireland is Upper Lough Erne. Anglers from all over the world travel to the area to take advantage of the shallow reedy bays and meandering shoreline where pike, bream, perch, tench, eel, and rudd are in abundance. Fishing competitions held in the waters between Enniskillen and Newtonbutler attract some of the best anglers in Europe. Fly fishing for pike in the vast reed beds has become has a great hit with fly anglers looking for a sport during the closed game fishing season. With an abundance of streams and rivers in the Fermanagh area, opportunities abound to fly fish for salmon, wild brown trout, stocked rainbow and brown trout. Boats and fishing guides are available for rent, and marinas in the many small towns offer boat launches, public jetties, and mooring buoys.

A highlight of Upper Lough Erne is the Shannon-Erne Waterway which leaves Upper Lough Erne through the Woodford River near Belturbet. The waterway consists of a series of canals and locks linking the River Erne with the River Shannon in the Republic of Ireland. The modern waterway is based on the line of the old Ballinamore and Ballyconnell Canal. When the restoration project began, 120 years of neglect had reduced the waterway to a weed-choked channel of broken bridges and missing locks. Using the original sites and stonework, the bridges are now restored and the waterway is navigable for modern pleasure boats. The waterway has opened up an area of Ireland that was relatively unknown. Today, boaters pass under 34 stone bridges and through 16 modern locks on a scenic journey through wild, pristine countryside. Each lock takes about 15 minutes to negotiate, and total cruising time for the entire 39 mile adventure is approximately 13 hours.

Lower Lough Erne, to the north, and Upper Lough Erne, to the south, are separated by the historic island town of Enniskillen, the largest town in County Fermanagh. For centuries, Enniskillen controlled the river passageway between to the two lakes and was once the main inland route to the north of Ireland and a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Lough Derg. The center of town offers interesting sites, including the ancient Enniskillen Castle, which today houses two museums. Other points of interest in the city are the neo-classical Castle Coole, and the eighteenth century Florence Court. Enniskillen is a great starting point for boaters and paddlers to explore the more than 200 islands in both Lower and Upper Lough Erne. Vacation and holiday rentals can be found in the town along with fine dining and shopping establishments.

Vacation rentals and accommodations on Upper Lough Erne range from five star luxury hotel resorts to cozy, country bed and breakfasts. Cottages, lodges, guesthouses, and private real estate also line the shoreline for those who prefer self-catering. Five-star caravan parks can be found throughout the area and offer space and facilities for touring caravans, motor caravans, and tents. Enniskillen offers a range of unique accommodation options including castle rooms, and Belle Isle, situated on the northern tip of Upper Lough Erne is a 470-acre estate spread over eight picturesque islands offering a wide range of self-catering accommodations to suit all tastes and budgets. Families on holiday will have no problem finding a place to stay, even in the popular summer months.

For the outdoor enthusiast, 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 and Upper Lough Erne and the beautiful Fermanagh area. Those looking for a bit more adventure may find the limestone Marble Arch Caves to their liking. Visitors can take an underground boat journey through an alien world of stalagmites and stalactites. For those who prefer to stay above ground, the Lough Navar Forest offers panoramic cliff-top views of the distant Donegal Mountains. For the experienced hiker, the Florence Court Hikers Trail climbs out of Enniskillen and offers visitors a spectacular view of Upper Lough Erne.

Birdwatchers will find large flocks of whooper swans, herons, and crested grebes nesting along the banks of Upper Lough Erne in the spring. Ireland’s biggest heron colony can be found in a 400-year-old oak grove on the island of Inishfendra on the eastern side of the lake. The island can be reached by small boat, but public access is restricted between February and May to avoid disturbing the birds.

The area surrounding Upper Lough Erne is famous for its historic sites and castle ruins. One of the most interesting islands is Devenish Island, just a few miles north of Enniskillen on Lower Lough Erne. In the middle ages, a chain of island monasteries inhabited the lakes. 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. Renting a boat for the day is the best way to go island exploring, but tours and cruises of the area are also available.

Whether your interest is touring ancient castles or fishing on some of the most beautiful waters in all of Europe, Upper Lough Erne and the Lakeland area of County Fermanagh has much to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Take a leisurely pony trek through the beautiful rolling hillside of the area, or golf at some of the most scenic golf courses in the region; whatever your pleasure, Northern Ireland is the perfect location for your next holiday or vacation getaway.

Things to do at Upper Lough Erne

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Ruins
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Upper Lough Erne

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

Upper Lough Erne Photo Gallery

    Upper Lough Erne Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Northern Ireland Rivers Agency

    Surface Area: 8,525 acres

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 48 feet

    Average Depth: 8 feet

    Maximum Depth: 89 feet

    Completion Year: 1840

    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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