Wednesday 16 August 2017

Holiday properties on the market: Donegal catch

Views and water activities aplenty on the banks of the River Erne

The house was built nine years ago on a double site in Knather Woods
The house was built nine years ago on a double site in Knather Woods
The house sits on 2.5 acres with its own private woodland
The kitchen in the open-plan living space
The open-plan living room/dining room
The main bathroom
The view towards Assaroe Lake
The nearby Slieve League cliffs are one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe

Alison Gill

Assaroe Lake was created by damming the River Erne in the late 1940s to generate storage capacity for the Cathleen's Falls Hydroelectric Power Station. The 234-hectare artificial lake has become a popular spot since its creation. Anglers come here to take advantage of the lightly fished waters that are home to bream, perch and roach, as well as pike and the odd trout.

Rowers are drawn to the calm waters, particularly since the O'Donovan brothers turned up at last year's All-Ireland Rowing Championships on the lake. And there is always plenty of local interest whenever a house or site comes up along the Knather Road, partly because of the activities around the river, but mostly because of the views.

When Coillte was selling sites in Knather Woods a decade ago, a local couple knew straight away that the location was something special. They bought a double site because they didn't want any other houses built beside them and liked the idea of having plenty of space around their property. The house was built just over nine years ago and has been used by the family as a holiday home.

"The property would be perfect for nature lovers," says the owner. "It's surrounded by a forest that's bursting with wildlife. It's also on a quiet road, across from the banks of the river, with a fishing stand just 100m from the house."

the house

You enter the house through a split-level hall. To the left is the living area - an open-plan kitchen/dining room/living room - and down the stairs are the bedrooms.

The ceilings are double-height and have timber beams. There is an oil-fired stove in the living room that could easily be converted into a solid fuel stove, if desired. There are double doors to the south and west sides of the room leading to the gardens.

The kitchen is fully fitted with wooden units and comes with a Rayburn cooker that is hooked up to the heating system. There is a utility off the kitchen with a door out to the courtyard.

The master bedroom is on the lower level, and has a walk-in wardrobe and en-suite bathroom. The main bathroom and a second bedroom are also on this level.

Another set of stairs leads up to two more bedrooms, one with great views over Assaroe Lake, and another bathroom.

The house is on 2.5 acres with its own private woodland walk. The grounds have been landscaped and a natural stone wall around the property provides privacy from the road.

There is a large double garage that is wired and plumbed and could be used as a workshop, or could even be converted to provide extra accommodation.

The property has been fully insulated and has a BER of C2.

The locale

The property is halfway between Belleek and Ballyshannon, with both being about 3km away. Ballyshannon in Donegal is a pleasant, historic town with plenty of facilities and shops.

Belleek, which is in Fermanagh, is more picturesque and touristy, thanks to the world-famous Belleek Pottery.

Donegal is about 25 minutes away by car and Sligo is about 35 minutes. A car journey to Dublin would take nearly three hours.

What to do

If fishing is your thing, you could not be in a better spot. Anglers come from all over the world to fish on the River Erne. It's the second largest river in Ulster that rises in Cavan, flows through Lough Gowna, Lough Oughter and Lough Erne, before meeting the sea at Ballyshannon.

With a fishing stand just across the road, you could fish from morning to night if the mood took you.

It's also a good location for beaches. Tullan Strand is only 6km from the house and is one of Ireland's best surfing beaches. At two miles long, it can get very busy during summer months. It attracts wave riders of every type, from short boarders to canoeists.

The famous Rossnowlagh Beach is just 8km north of Ballyshannon and is a very popular spot with families and surfers alike. There is a lifeguard on duty in the summer months but make sure you get there early on a warm day to get a good spot, as this beach can get very busy. Belleek Pottery is one of the world's oldest working potteries, dating back to 1857. You can take a guided tour and meet some of the craftspeople, visit the museum or relax in the tea rooms where your lunch will be served on their best tableware of course.

Eating and drinking

Dicey Reilly's in Ballyshannon first opened its doors in 1856, so it could be said that they know a thing or two about beer. Such is their knowledge that they now house their own microbrewery, Donegal Brewing Company.

It's a great spot for a night out for those who enjoy a bit of live music or, for anyone wanting a quiet night in, their two-level off licence will have more than enough to quench your thirst.

Belleek is a good option for lunch with some good cafes, including The Lemon Tree and The Thatch.

The Courthouse is 10 minutes away in Kinlough and is an unexpected treat in such a small town. Chef Piero Melis, who worked with Richard Corrigan in Bentley's in London, opened The Courthouse in 1996 and has gone on to win many awards for his Mediterranean-style cooking.

The crowd

The majority of houses along the Knather Road were built around 10 years ago when the sites were bought from Coillte. Most owners are professionals working in the area, who wanted a home that was secluded and private.

Ballyshannon itself is a commuter town for Sligo and Donegal. Belleek would see a lot more tourism with the pottery, and so gets a lot busier in high season.

What's not to like

Last summer, the ESB issued a warning about the dangers of swimming at Assaroe Lake.

A spokesperson at the time said that it was due to the "uneven ground, deep waters, changing water levels and fast flowing currents".

So anyone with dreams of a quick morning dip would be better off driving to a nearby beach.

The Mullans

Knather Woods, Ballyshannon, Co Donegal

Asking price: €315,000

Agent: Schiller & Schiller, (071) 9163284

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