The headlights of our rental car lit the 10-foot-tall white iron gates marking the entrance to the Crom Estate. Kelley folded out of the passenger seat, walked in front of the car and entered the code into the key pad. The monstrous gates split apart and began to swing open. Only two more miles to Erne View Cottage.
The car crept through the woods, along the winding, single lane road. “Watch it, Mom!” Badger number six scurried across the road and disappeared into the undergrowth. We knew what was ahead. Tonight, it was a buck, a doe and 2 small deer with spots – Bambi? “I think that’s a dozen now!” The National Trust website was right…there is much wildlife to discover…
Up ahead, we could see the straight line of attached two-story grey stone cottages. Erne View Cottage was at the far end of the row and closest to the lake. We were home – hidden away on the Crom Estate in the heart of County Fermanagh.
Erne View Cottage
Erne View Cottage quickly felt like home with its large airy kitchen, open and full of light. It was a pleasant place to cook breakfast, grab a snack or put together a picnic lunch. When we stood at the sink and looked out through the tall window in front of us, we could see the red and purple fuchsia blooming in the uneven hedges.
The full sized fridge had a freezer on bottom. A dishwasher, microwave, toaster, electric tea kettle and 4-burner stove with an oven rounded out the kitchen must haves. White cupboards stretched up toward the 10-foot-high ceiling and held tableware and glassware. Wide drawers contained cutlery and the lower cabinets held pots, pans and sundry items for cooking.
The sunny living/dining room located at the front of the cottage gave the cottage its name – Erne View.
Three of the windows faced toward Lough (pronounced Lock) Erne. One window was visible from the polished honey colored wooden dining room table. A soft blue velvet couch sat in front of the other windows – lovely double windows framed by a deep windowsill.
We relaxed and stretched out on the 3 couches in the living room. The couches, arranged in a loose U, faced the flat screen television and fireplace. A wooden basket beside the hearth held enough logs for a cozy fire.
Several logs rested on top of the andirons inside the fireplace. It appeared the cottage was just waiting for us to take a match from the box placed on top of the mantle and light the fire… a warm, crackling, cozy fire.
The largest bedroom, located at the top of the stairs, held a wooden wardrobe, bedside tables and a double bed. We could see Lough Erne from the double bedroom. Two single bedrooms and one twin room were around the corner and down the hall. Everyone had a bedroom of her own – yeah! Very comfortable beds made for snug sleeping under heavy white duvets.
The cottage contains three bathrooms. Correction, in the language of our host country, two rooms for bathing and 3 lavatories (toilets), one wheel chair accessible.
With Erne Cottage as our home for 7 days we escaped the hub bub of the city and tourist sites. Our individual rooms provided privacy and the opportunity to be neat or messy as we wished in our own rooms. With no need to wear makeup to breakfast popped down to the living room and read or watched television in our jammies.
And, even though we disturbed the wild life, we didn’t have to worry that we would disturb the landlady/B&B owner when we returned after midnight. Erne View Cottage was home!
The living room offers a modestly sized flat screen television in addition to free wi-fi. A wood filled basket sits next to the fireplace. At the back of the dining room area built in shelves hold a variety of books and games. We spied new versions of the American games Jenga and Chutes and Ladders: “TIMBERRR A GAME of BALANCE” and “SNAKES AND LADDERS” on the top shelf.
History: Crom Estate, the Castle and the Cottages
The Crom (pronounced Crumb) Estate is located along the banks of Upper Lough Erne in the southern part of County Fermanagh (pronounced Fur Mun Ah) Northern Ireland. Crom means crooked or twisting place and refers to the shape of the land along the banks of the lake. During the 1600s England gave land in this part of Ireland to English and Scottish settlers.
Michael Balfour, Laird of Mountwhinney, a Scot, built the first house at Crom in 1611. The house was designed as a castle and built out of lime and stone. Laird Mountwhinney sold the property to Sir Stephen Butler in 1619.
The property was sold two more times before Henry Crichton, 6th Earl Erne, gave a large portion of the Crom Estate to the National Trust in 1987. The National Trust now manages the 1350 acre parcel of land as a nature reserve. The National Trust Visitor Center and holiday cottages make up part of the old restored farm courtyard.
Activities at Erne View
You will find the ruins of the old castle located ½ mile from the cottage. A leisurely walk from the cottage to the castle takes about 15 minutes. A gravel path extends about half way and the route continues along a mowed path through open pasture. On a wet day, the mud squished under our feet as we walked it. Wellies could be helpful, when you venture out. Especially for adventurous walkers and those who are young or young at heart and drawn to puddles.
The castle grounds, surrounded by a stone wall, include stone stairs lead down to the lake. We watched the sun set over the lake the evening we walked to the castle. The sunset highlighted the outline of the castle, with moss and grass growing on the old stones, as we approached.
The castle stood bathed in the pink and peach colors of the sunset. It was perfect – the only sounds the occasional calls of birds and the distant conversations of the sheep.
Erne View Cottage sits in the midst of the 1300 plus acre nature reserve managed by the National Trust. Miles of marked trails extend over fairly level ground. Boats, with and without motors, are available for those who love to go boating or fishing. The visitor center assists with the arrangements.
A large swing set is tucked away in a fenced in area behind the cottages. Wooden benches, arranged near the swings, allow for parents to sit down and relax while their children play.
The kitchen is fully stocked with supplies. Laundry is on site with a washing machine in the kitchen and a dryer in the laundry room across the courtyard. Tokens are required for the dryer. Staff provided a complementary token. Additional tokens are available at the visitor center.
Erne View Cottage is very comfortable and homey. However, it is necessary to turn on each of the kitchen appliances at the wall switch before use. We preferred using the short washing cycle when washing clothes because the standard cycle ran for over an hour. Really!
To increase hot water for showers we were able to push the “ADD 1 HOUR” switch on the heat control on the wall at the bottom of the stairs. The upstairs shower would not work when the ceiling fan was shut off.
If You Go
Erne View is one of seven holiday cottages at Crom Estate and accommodates up to 6 people. Level access from the courtyard car park, presence of a ground floor bath with roll in shower and pull out couch make the property accessible for those with mobility issues.
Only two miles away, pubs and small shops in the village of Newtownbutler provide food and drink. In addition, Lisnaskea, a seven mile drive, has a few restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores. Enniskillen, a medium size town at the head of Upper Lough Erne, sits 20 miles from the cottage. Enniskillen offers a wide variety of restaurants and pubs, two supermarkets, hotels, shops, museums and a visitor’s center.
And, the castle adds a bit of romance – particularly at sunset. Erne View makes an ideal base for visitors wanting to tour the lakes or visit Florence Court and Castle Coole.
Erne View Cottage welcomed us home after long days roaming about the Irish countryside.
I am sure it will welcome you also. Cheers.