A46 (Northern Ireland)
|Length:||23.6 miles (38 km)|
|Meets:||A4, B81, B52, N3|
|Route outline (key)|
Together with the A509, the A46 links the two ends of the N3 together though Northern Ireland, running along the southern shore of Lower Lough Erne. The route forms the entirety of the T23 Trunk Road.
Enniskillen - Belleek
We leave the A4 / A32 multiplex at the western side of Enniskillen, and take Lough Shore Road. This takes us through a number of small suburbs/villages and out into the countryside. As we head northwards, there is no sign of the island-studded lough that we are skirting until we have passed Ely Island, and even then a screen of trees does its best to hide the water. The road then turns away once more, running through fields with the occasional farmhouse and lane signed to the shore.
At Drumcrow East, the road again gets close enough to the lough to catch glimpses through the trees, before dipping inland to the B81 junction at a sharp bend. The road now climbs up a hill, passing the turning to Tully Castle, one of many around Lough Erne. We then drop back towards the water, although with trees and fields between the two you'd hardly notice.
We are heading west now, with the steep Cliffs of Magho high up on our left, and then the lough ends, flowing into the River Erne. Here, a former spur of the A46, now unclassified, turns right, crosses the river on a weak bridge, and connects to the A47, which has been busy following the lough's northern shore. After another three miles, we reach the complicated little town of Belleek.
My first hint is not to trust Google with the Ireland - UK border line. At Corry Crossroads, we meet the B52 first, heading south to Lough Melvin, and then on the right the B52 heads into the town. It crosses into the Republic almost immediately, becoming the R920 and then returns to the North a couple of hundred metres later to become the A47. The A46 is still in Northern Ireland here, but the garage on our right (selling cheaper petrol when the euro is favourable) is in the Republic. Then, after passing the garage, we find the signs welcoming us to Ireland, a change to km/h for speed limits, and the N3 to Ballyshannon.
On classification, the route from Enniskillen to Belleek was the northern half of the B37. It was quickly upgraded to class I, being A46 by 1923. It was trunked in 1998. The spur from Rosscor to the A47 existed by the 1950s but had gone by the 2000s.