The Heartland Food & Drink Tour is a new tour that has been added to the Lough Neagh Tours portfolio. Hosted by Lough Neagh Partnership, the tour departs Belfast and takes visitors into the heart of Co Armagh and Co Tyrone on a fabulous all day tour with some food and drink delights! We met the bus and our tour guide Donna in Belfast before hitting the road.
A visit to Harnett Oils
Our first stop on the tour was at the award winning Harnett’s Oils Their cold-pressed rapeseed and hemp oils are made from crops grown on the family run farm and I have to say, a have a couple of bottles in my cupboard and love this stuff. On our arrival we were met by Jane Harnett and her dad. After hearing about the history of the estate and having a look around, we were served a rather delicious scone with jam & cream served with tea or coffee. As the winner of The best NI scone competition, I can be quite critical of scones, but these were made by Jane’s mum and were truly delicious! Jane talked us through the production process and we saw the oil dripping through the press which was very impressive. Best part was getting to try the different flavours, which really are tasty and good for marinades, salad dressings or just for cooking!
Long Meadow Cider
As a cider lover, I was particularly excited about our next stop at Long Meadow Cider. On arrival, we were met by owners Pat and Catherine McKeever and their son Peter. They were absolutely charming and treated us to a tour of the orchards and premises before generously plying us with delicious samples of their ciders. Of the varieties that we tasted, I will profess a preference for the Rhubarb and honey flavour which was divine!
Pat even allowed us a sneaky sample of the apple brandy that he has developed. At 78% ABV, I was a little nervous but worryingly, I loved it!
When you see the love and passion that goes into making these ciders, you will drink local every time.
Crannagael House is a grade two listed Georgian house near Portadown. It is owned by Jane and John Nicholson and it has been in the family since it was built in the mid 18th century. It is surrounded by gardens, parklands and an orchard and enjoys stunning views of the countryside. John and Jane warmly welcomed us and gave us a tour. I couldn’t believe the fruit and veg that they grow. Such an amazing range of unusual varieties, many of which, Jane supplies to local restaurants.
After our tour, we were brought into the house to sample some of Jane’s sloe gin. I could have quite happily settled into an arm chair and spent the rest of the day supping on this. Thankfully I was lured away by the buffet of local produce laid out for lunch. Smoked Lough Neagh eel, Ballylisk cheese, Yellow Door breads, Burren Balsamics, Jane’s home-made chutney, wild garlic pesto and apple bread made for quite a feast! It was with some reluctance that we dragged ourselves away from this wonderful couple to continue on our tour.
Our last stop on the Heartlands Food & Drink Tour was at Tomney’s bar in Moy, County Tyrone. While there we got to meet the owner, Margaret McNiece, whose family have owned the bar for generations. Margaret is a gem of a character who regaled us with hilarious stories from the past and had us in stitches.
During our visit, we were given the opportunity to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. I’m not normally a Guinness drinker but I couldn’t resist the chance to learn a new skill. The barman talked me through precisely what to do and miracle of miracles, it worked and looked like a properly good pint. I served it to one of the other guests who declared it as good a pint of Guinness as he had ever tasted. High praise indeed! Best of all, I got a certificate for my perfect pint pouring efforts! Ah the glory!
All too soon our visit was over and sadly, we had to hit the road.
I have to say, I had a fabulous day and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this or any of the range of Lough Neagh tours.
To find out more, check out other tours and make a booking, click on this link
My thanks to Eimear and Lough Neagh Tours for the experience; tour guide, Donna Fox for the entertaining day and Nicola Bothwell for the invitation. It was a really fun day!
some additional information...
About Lough Neagh Tours
- Lough Neagh Tours offer visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in heritage, history and hospitality around this unique lake, the largest in the UK and Ireland. Departing from Belfast city centre to the shores of Lough Neagh, an area world renowned for its folklore, flora, fauna and eel, guests are transported to an untapped wilderness likened to the Florida Everglades. Experience this untouched landscape, meet the locals and to sample the unique charm and fantastic culinary delights.
- Lough Neagh Tours have been developed in collaboration with Lough Neagh Partnership, funded by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, Lough Neagh Partnership, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and Mid Ulster District Council.
About the Lough Neagh Partnership
• The Lough Neagh Partnership is a non-profit charity made up of representatives of bodies interested in the development and protection of Lough Neagh.
• The Lough Neagh Partnership, based in Ballyronan, has a remit to market and promote Lough Neagh & Its Waterways as a visitor destination.
• Lough Neagh Partnership has commenced a £3.5 million HLF Landscape Scheme which aims to protect the built, cultural and natural heritage of the Lough.
• The Lough Neagh Partnership is also managing a Northern Periphery INTERREG project researching water quality issues in the Lough.
• The Lough Neagh Partnership also manages the new ASSI Shoreline Plan drawn up in partnership with local stakeholders to help protect the Lough’s natural environment.
• Lough Neagh Partnership manages the Lough Shore Cycle Trail and Canoe Trail.
• Lough Neagh Partnership is funded by all the councils around the shores of the Lough and receives funding assistance from HLF and NIEA.
What Do You Think?
Recommend this content to other Eating Ideas readers by giving it a thumbs up!
Or why not tell us what you think by leaving a comment?