Ed Leahy indulges in pampering and pondering.

A fascinating history of over 300 years tells the tale of how the Maxwells became the Farnhams and lorded over the County of Cavan for centuries.

With so many lords a leaping through this Breffni estate through the years, we learn of one who was helpless in preventing Ulster counties from remaining within the Union.

Another, a top freemason by all accounts, campaigned tirelessly, but in vain, to claim the right as an Irish peer to sit in the House of Lords.

And that history is very much in evidence as you check in at the hybrid lobby of the Farnham Estate, as the atrium is bordered by the back wall and columns of the main house, while a glass roof completes the symbiosis of classic and contemporary.

To my delight, I was pointed in the direction of the old house and into the Farnham Suite, which still retains its charm and character with a spacious, light-drenched bedroom overlooking the hotel grounds.

The Farnham legacy is evident throughout the spectacular grounds that roll away from the main house and out around the nearby lakes of the Breffni County.

And great detail has been provided for outdoor enthusiasts who want to take advantage of this most scenic of areas with several walking tracks bringing you out and around the estate.

With a couple of hours to spare ahead of dinner, I ventured out on Lord Farnham's Walk, which is a simple out-and-back stroll to Farnham Lough.

This easy walk gives you a great sense of what is on offer around the estate as you pass magnificent Monterey pine in the parkland en route to the lakeside. The outer point is a pretty lakeside clearing, referred to as the 'American Garden', beside an old boathouse on the shore of Lough Farnham. 

The walk can easily be completed in less than an hour, but on a warm summer's evening my appetite-inducing dander lasted a little bit longer.

The trunk of a fallen beech provided a natural viewing seat, where wild garlic, daffodils and rhododendrons were growing, while out in the lake, a crannóg (a prehistoric lake fort) can be viewed, which provided secure refuge during time of attack from other tribes or invaders.

The range of trees located throughout the estate include Scots pines, Norway spruce, Douglas fir, western red cedar, larch, Sitka spruce, noble fir and western hemlock. 

Wildlife is plentiful with red and grey squirrels, foxes, mink, otters, badgers and a range of bats, just some of the species to be spotted as you enjoy any of the five mapped walking routes.

Grey heron, mute swan, great crested grebe, tufted duck, and Canada goose are to be seen on the water, while finches, tits, thrushes, hooded crows, raven and wren are among the many birds that have been recorded throughout the extensive woodlands.

A fine feast awaited at the hotel's AA Rosette Botanica Restaurant, which is designed to showcase the beauty of Farnham's own plant life and reflected in the theme of the dining experience, using the finest of local, seasonal produce. 

On this long, bright summer's evening, my table overlooked the fine Farnham lawn, complementing a very relaxed and enjoyable evening. 

The food was exceptional, as I started with the Tiger Prawns, cooked in fresh chili, pickled ginger, coriander and Pak Choy, while the main course options covered all the bases as I opted for a simple but tasty Roast Chicken Supreme.

The extensive wine list produced a rich red from the New World, while there was just enough room for the warm chocolate pudding, served with honeycomb ice cream. This set dinner menu is available from just €45 per person and proves excellent value in a classy setting.

An early start brought me into contact with the hotel's renowned breakfast buffet. It is fair to say that we got well-acquainted ahead of the late-arriving breakfast rush, which filled the room as I headed out for a date on the links.

On my previous Farnham visit, for a friend's wedding, the golf course was a work in progress but it is now home to a championship parkland course spread over the 500-odd acres of rolling countryside and dense woodland. 

The front nine takes you around the undulating meadows of this magnificent estate, while the completely contrasting back nine is a tougher test, travelling through denser, more rugged woodland.

But the views throughout are spectacular, from the picturesque second hole, which takes you downhill (where driver is too much) to a protected green, before you have to negotiate a tricky tee shot on the fourth, right through to the turn, where the majestic pine trees guide you around a most special collection of golf holes. 

The Jeff Howes-design is deserving of the recent praise that has seen the course listed among the Top 100 in the country, but there is a bit of a trek between some holes, with gradients to be negotiated throughout.

So if you are squeezing a round or two in between some wedding or celebratory revelries, you might be wise to hire a buggy to take you up and down this superb track.

A light lunch was enjoyed ahead of an afternoon to remember at the hotel's health spa, beginning with a deep-tissue massage, which unknotted some of the new arrivals picked up around the punishing back nine.

But then, with the body at ease, it was time to soothe the soul and relax the mind and the Farnham Spa ticks all those boxes, beginning with a glass of warmed ginger tea in the tranquil relaxing room before doing the rounds of jacuzzis and therapeutic steam rooms in the ultra stylish facility.

The best was kept for last, however, as I enjoyed a few laps of the hotel's indoor swimming pool, before dipping under the surface and reappearing in the outdoor infinity pool, which offers more great views of the estate's rolling hills.

The outdoor option includes a relaxation area with water jets adding a little more luxury to the already perfect pool.

With the sun shining on the fifty shades of green beyond the water's blue, I pondered how to spend the remaining afternoon hours ahead of dinner.

I pondered a while longer. 

For more information about Farnham Estate, visit: www.farnhamestate.ie.

Ed Leahy

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