DRIVING along the N3 as it winds through Virginia, I caught sight of a poster for one of Co Cavan’s most famous attractions – the Virginia Pumpkin Festival, which runs each October.
The festival, along with fishing and canoeing at the hundreds of lakes smattered through the county, remains one of the strongest tourist draws to the area.
And, just a little further along the road, I was due to arrive at another Cavan icon – the Farnham Estate.
An easy drive down the motorway from Dublin, the estate is set over 1,300 acres of serene countryside.
Farnham House sits impressively in the midst of it, with its early 19th century facade tastefully incorporated into a much larger structure that contains much of the hotel, as well as a swimming pool and health spa.
The long driveway gives a glimpse of the 18-hole golf course set on the estate, as well as the ancient woodland that spreads out from the house.
It was the forest that initially captivated me, and after settling in I left my guest to indulge in the health spa while I laced up my walking boots to take on some of the trails that crisscross the estate.
However, a sense of captivation by the outside world can be surprisingly short-lived. En route to reception I couldn’t help but notice several blissfully content people wandering back to their rooms in their robes and slippers.
Suddenly, the call of the wild wasn’t quite so strong, and before I knew it I had ditched the boots and found myself a spot by the pool.
Happily, I found out there is a huge amount to do at the Farnham spa.
Aside from the long menu of treatments, there are thermal suites to stimulate one’s circulation, and a heated outdoor infinity pool that looks out across the estate.
I can testify to the fact that hours can easily vanish by intermittently swimming, reading, and snoozing in the spa.
Reconvening with my guest later in the afternoon, I found her awash with that same look of contentment I’d seen on so many faces at Farnham.
Over dinner in Botanica restaurant, situated in the old part of the house, she gave me the play-by-play of Farnham’s two-hour signature treatment, Crann na Beatha (Tree of Life) that included being covered in organic peat, a body wrap, heated stones, and a head-to-toe massage.
While my walking boots returned to the car boot relatively unscathed, I took a quick scout around in the morning before heading on the road back to Dublin, pledging to return soon to explore it more.
Between the spa, walking, biking, golfing, and eating, there’s so much to take in at Farnham that there’s no sense in trying to experience it all at once.
Driving back home by a spectacularly calm Lough Ramor, and still thinking of my newfound love of thermal suites, I quipped aloud that that there’s so much of the great outdoors in Cavan, and so much great indoors there, too.
However, there was no response from my passenger, who was still lost in a world of blissful contentment …
For further information, see www.farnhamestate.ie.