The lakes are widened sections of the River Erne. The river begins by flowing north, and then curves west into the Atlantic. The southern lake is further up the river and so is named Upper Lough Erne. The northern lake is Lower Lough Erne. The town of Enniskillen lies on the short stretch of the river between the lakes. The lakeside is high and rocky in some parts and, in addition to the 154 islands, there are many coves and inlets. When windy, navigation on Lower Lough Erne, running for 26 miles almost to the Atlantic Ocean, can be something of a challenge with waves of open-sea dimensions. Shallow Upper Lough Erne, spreading southeast of Enniskillen for about 12 miles, is a maze of islands. River Erne is 100km long and drains an area of about 4,350km2.
Lough Erne is a particularly scenic waterway, renowned for its beautiful setting. The area is popular for angling and watersports, with waterskiing, Rowing and wakeboarding being amongst the most popular; the stretch of water alongside the Broadmeadow, Enniskillen, has hosted stages of the World Waterski Championships annually since 2005, and in 2007, a pro-wakeboard competition, ‘Wakejam’ was hosted by the Erne Wakeboard Club (EWC) after successful national wakeboard competitions in the previous years. Canoeing is also a popular recreational sport on the Erne.
Lough Erne Yacht Club is based in Gublusk Bay. The Lough Erne Regatta is Ireland’s oldest event for racing under sail, with a lineage beyond 1820.
The Lough Erne Golf & Hotel Resort was opened in October 2007. It is situated on a 600-acre peninsula between Castle Hume Lough and Lower Lough Erne.