Peter Cumberlidge picks his top spots for a British charter, from Loch Ness to the Broads, and the ideal boats to hire there
Glorious Lough Erne
Few English boaters appreciate the scale of Ireland’s navigable rivers and lakes. The mighty Shannon penetrates far into this watery country from Limerick almost to the Northern Irish border.
From here a canal leads into glorious Lough Erne and its enchanting puzzle of islands. To get here with your own boat requires plenty of time and planning.
A week’s charter is a much simpler, less expensive way of escaping to Ireland’s wonderful waterways and their breath-taking landscapes.
Manor House Marine is an attractive hire base at Killadeas, tucked behind an island on the east side of Lower Lough Erne. The nearby Manor House Hotel stands in spacious grounds, a pampering treat after your cruise.
She is helmed from a canopy bridge deck, powered by a Nanni 115hp shaftdrive diesel and has bow and stern thrusters.
Killadeas is well placed for cruising both Lower and Upper Lough Erne (pictured below), which are linked by a winding river.
InishMacSaint has an ancient church and Devenish a commanding round tower. Lusty Beg has a handy restaurant and you make a proper passage to get there.
The lower lough is 26 miles long with plenty of open water, where fresh winds raise a respectable chop.
For a relaxing week, the practical limits of this cruising area are Belleek in the north-west and Belturbet at the south end of Upper Lough Erne. Belleek has a notable pottery and is interesting because the Atlantic is tantalisingly close.
With the original short canal cut restored you’d be able to break out into Donegal Bay! Belturbet is a very Irish market town worth visiting for food at the Seven Horseshoes.
Between the two, Enniskillen is a fascinating stop, a historic stronghold built on an island hill, guarding a narrow channel.
The upper lough has wooded shores and islands galore. Inishcorkish is home to herds of roaming pigs who end up as succulent Fermanagh Black Bacon – the biz in a sizzling Full Irish.
Phone 028 6632 3230 and the hotel will send a buggy to collect you. Noel McMeel has been chef here since its Catalina Restaurant opened and the cooking is superlative.
Guide prices: Noble Emperor costs from £1,635 per week low season to £2,195 high season excluding fuel.
Getting there: Killadeas is 210 miles (4hrs) drive from Rosslare and 125 miles (2hrs) from Dun Laoghaire ferry terminals. Killadeas is 90-95 miles from Belfast International (EasyJet) or Belfast City (Flybe, Aer Lingus). Transfers available.
Contact: Manor House Marine