I've said it before and I'll no doubt say it again; whenever my family goes to Ireland, we always end up doing the same things. But this year, we decided to rebel.

We were on the ferry crossing with two hours to waste and very little to entertain us when the idea was formed. The parents has just bought a new road map from the little onboard gift shop. We were looking at all the places we always go, when it came to us. We were going to hijack a day and take everyone to somewhere we'd never been before.

After scouring the map for a while, we discovered one area that had three loughs in close vicinity; that had to be good right? Flipping back and forth between the map's key and the chosen destination we could identify castles, viewing points, boating activities. A plan was formed.

All that was needed now was a name. We toyed with Magical Mystery Tour, but thought it was too generic. We tried to make it rhyme, but that didn't get us anywhere. Eventually alliteration got thrown into the mix, and Leap Into The Land Of The Loughs was born.

The day soon arrived and despite our good intentions we still didn't really have a clue what we were going to do. Between us we had a gang of eight family members with high hopes for the day. The pressure was really on after we'd complained so much about the 'family heritage trail' my mum had dragged us on the day before, which basically involved visiting a lot of graveyards.

After a hushed conversation in the back of the car we declared the first stop, the Lough Earne Exhibition Centre. This would be the perfect place to pick up a few leaflets about other attractions in the area and finalise the details for the rest of the day. Only problem is, it doesn't seem to exist anymore, if it ever did. We went to the exact point it appeared on the map and there was not a single sign it had ever been there. I made a mental note to complain to the map company (this was a brand new map after all) and moved on.

With a quick reference back to the map, we declared Castle Caldwell Forest the first stop. The name should have given it away, but this was more about the forest than the castle. There were lots of paths signposted for a forest walk, one of which we did follow for a short while, but we're not really a walking family.

The castle itself was a little unusual, as it was covered from head to toe in ivy. Other than a few bits sticking out here and there, if the sign hadn't told us there was a castle, we could have missed it altogether, hidden amongst the green of the surrounding forest.

We were heading back to the car when we spotted an abandoned building opposite the car park. This in itself is nothing too unusual in Ireland; with so much empty land it's fairly common for people to just build new houses wherever they like and leave the old ones to go to ruin. The unusual thing is that you could get straight into this one.

Call me strange, but I've always had a little bit of an obsession with exploring abandoned buildings; my ultimate dream is to explore an old theme park. While this building had nothing on the abandoned mental institutes and high rise buildings I've read stories about, it quickly became the highlight of my day. As we tip-toed across the creaking floorboards littered with broken glass, it was rather eery, but I couldn't help but smile as I imagined myself being a brave adventurer.

The outside of the building was just as intriguing, with the same ivy that had taken over the castle staking it's claim on this much newer building.

It was soon back to the car and with another quick look at the map we established that the best place to stop next would be Castle Archdale. This castle had a little more going for it, by which I mean you could actually see the walls. But after reading the brief information sign and snapping a couple of photos we'd pretty much done it all.

Luckily we know how to make our fun and before long we were climbing on the walls and scaling up the surrounding trees. I would say there was a competition to see who could climb the highest, but there was no competition; the boys were the clear winners.

Remember those 'boating activities' that were dotted all over the map? Well, it was now time to find them. I had visions of hiring a rowing boat for a little paddle or jumping on a tour boat for an hour and hearing about the sights around the edge of the lake. But apparently it was not meant to be...

We arrived at the first place the map indicated, only to find it was just a place to moor your own boat. Without our own boat this was not much good. Never fear, there were plenty more boating areas dotted across the map and we still had high hopes. But another hour or so later we had established they were all for private boat owners.

It was getting late in the day but there was time for one more stop; Enniskillen Castle. This was the sort of castle we had been looking for all day. Nestled in the small town of Enniskillen, for a small fee you could enter the well maintained castle, walk through the rooms the high and mighty had once lived in and learn all about the history. But, as you might have guessed, things did not go to plan. The castle was closed.

Once again we managed to have our own fun though, this time sitting on the banks of the castle and making daisy chains.

Was the day a roaring success? Not exactly. But did we have more fun than on the previous day's 'family heritage trail'? Without a doubt.

We did something different and had lots of fun along the way, so it doesn't really matter that nothing went the way we envisioned!

Have you ever planned an adventure only to find nothing goes as expected?

PS. If you liked this post, you'll love this one on making every day an adventure.