Top things to do Outdoors in Fermanagh & Cavan
*From a Local Perspective*
Spring is in the air and the outdoors are alluring again…
We can’t travel far yet but we can enjoy what is on our doorstep so it's time to take advantage of all the wonderful walks, cycles and beauty spots we have in our area.
The Cuilcagh Boardwalk
In the heart of the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Geopark, the boardwalk has in the last few years become a MUST for your bucket list!
Locally it is known by different names: The Legnabrocky Trail or The Stairway to Heaven.
The route is 7 km long. The first stretch (5.5km) is a gravel track with a gentle gradient, you then start the ascent of Cuilcagh Mountain. A boardwalk protects the blanket bog from that point (in Spring you can enjoy a carpet of Bog Cotton). The last steep climb of 450 steps leads to a viewing platform with breathtaking views over the surrounding low lands and Lough Atona at the foot of the mountain.
The actual summit of Cuilcagh (665m) is out of bounds and only a few hundred meters away. The round trip is about 14km and the grade is difficult. You need to think about wearing suitable footwear, bring warm clothing as the weather conditions can change very quickly and bring snacks & water.
The Cuilcagh walk is very different now to the first time Marius took me up Cuilcagh… it was then a very long walk along a river bank and through bog until you reached the bottom of the cliffs. For me the walk has lost a little bit of its magic now, and it can get too overcrowded in the Summer but it is much more accessible and the spectacular views at the top are worth every effort.
Best time is early in the morning or during off peak season.
Cuilcagh is only one of the many gems in the geopark which stretches from Lough Navar Forest near Belleek (Co. Fermanagh) to Cavan town (Co. Cavan); it became the first cross-border Geopark in the world in 2008.
The geopark area is an ideal place for a family walk in a forest or along a lake shore path.
No entrance fee... escape into the outdoors and make your own adventure.
These are some of our favourites:
The Cladagh Glen walk along the river and up the gorge towards the Marble Arch caves with its beautiful waterfall and blue bells.
The Cavan Burren Park has over 10km of trails and features some impressive neolithic tombs. It is so remote and yet so close.
In Belmore Forest, a circular walk takes you to the entrance of Pollnagollum cave near Boho. The waterfall is impressive after rainfall. The cave was used in Victorian times and more recently to shoot one of the scenes in Game of Thrones. The Linnet Inn, an old thatched pub nearby is definitely worth a visit with its traditional turf fire and cave lounge.
Castle Caldwell near Belleek used to be our favourite spot when we lived in Garrison. The lake walk is ideal for young children.
Our area also offers lots of scenic drives:
The Marlbank loop & Killykeegan nature Reserve
Lough Navar Forest Drive & Magho Cliffs viewpoint with dramatic views over Lower Lough Erne, the Blue Stack Mountains and on clear days Slieve League & Donegal Bay. (photo below by Delia Gregg)
Fermanagh Uplands including Ely Lodge Forest, Inishmacsaint & Big Dog Forest.
The whole region is ideal for all kind of outdoor activities:
Caving: Fermanagh & Cavan offer a unique network of caves and potholes including Marble Arch Caves, White Fathers (photo below) and many more. You do need to have specialised equipment to go caving but you can take a visitor tour of the caves at Marble Arch or try the sporty version with your own cave leader & all specialised equipment at Corralea.
Cycling: Fermanagh Scarplands boast the longest off road gravel tracks in Ireland with 100km of tracks from Belcoo to Lough Navar. The work on signage of trails will soon be completed by the geopark. You can bring your own mountain bike / gravel bike or hire electric mountain bike from Corralea.
Canoeing: This region has one of the longest network of inland waterways in Europe. Canoeing, kayaking, SUP board paddling are fantastic ways to get close to nature and enjoy the rich flora and fauna. The Cavan Adventure Centre offers canoe trips around Lough Oughter. At Corralea, you can hire single, double canoes or SUP boards to discover Upper Lough Macnean. Independent canoeists can explore the 50km of the Lough Erne Canoe Trail.
Fishing: This is an angler’s paradise. Dulrush Fishing Lodge near Belleek offers visitors easy access to many popular fisheries, Loughs and rivers, the most well-known of which being Lough Melvin (Game fishing) & Lough Erne (Coarse fishing).
You can get more information on all the walks and scenic drives on https://www.marblearchcavesgeopark.com/
The geopark is launching its new brand soon with a new website, and more involvement with the local communities. It promises to include a wealth of information on the whole region, its cultural past, its geology, its fauna & flora and its local businesses.
Keep an eye on their facebook page!
Fermanagh Series: Blog 2 of 5