Big Dog Forest

Big Dog Forest, cloaked largely with conifers, dotted with open stretches of upland landscapes and lakes, offers astonishing views, wilderness, and exploration with the highlight being the 360-degree view from the top of Little Dog.

The 1,097 hectares of forest is steeped in history and has an abundance of wildlife as varied as red deer, herons, dragonflies, and the Irish hare. This is truly a magical spot offering a great day out for all the family. Big Dog Forest along with Carrigan, Ballintempo Dog, Conagher and Lough Navar forests in west Fermanagh combine to form the largest continuous tract of forest in Northern Ireland covering over 8,500 hectares.

Facilities: car parking, interpretation, picnic area and Big Dog Walk.

Getting Here

Big Dog Forest

  • Main Car Park
  • Knockmore Road
  • Scribbagh
  • Fermanagh
  • Northern Ireland
  • BT93
  • Main Car Park
  • Knockmore Road
  • Scribbagh
  • Fermanagh
  • Northern Ireland
  • BT93
  • 54.3966669, -7.9208995

Big Dog Walk

 

The initial part of the walk takes you along forest tracks, through Sitka spruce conifer plantations before opening out onto a causeway that bisects Lough Nabrickboy. Continuing across the causeway, magnificent views of this upland lake can be appreciated, and a secluded picnic spot provides the perfect setting for a woodland feast. Travelling onwards the trail links onto a moorland path which skirts the shores of Loughs Doo and Nabrickboy where many species of damsel and dragonflies can be seen particularly in late summer. Little Dog viewpoint can be reached by a short but rewarding climb. Once the site of a Forest Service fire tower, the remnants of which remain today, the viewpoint offers wonderful 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding area. Many of the smaller lakes are only visible from this dramatic vantage point. To the North is Meenagleragh Lough, further out to the west is Donegal Bay and to the South is the companion hill of Big Dog.

  • Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Time: 1hour 30minutes
  • Grade: Easy
  • Terrain: All types, mostly forest track, some unsurfaced path
  • Route: Linear, with circular loop
  • Wheelchair accessible: No
  • Map: Discoverer Series OSNI Sheet 17 Lower Lough Erne; Activity Map OSNI Upper and Lower Lough Erne
  • Dogs: Dogs must be kept under control and waste disposed of
Big Dog Walk

Heritage

Big Dog Forest gets its name from the larger of the two small hills that dominate the skyline, known as Big Dog and Little Dog. Their names originate from Irish folklore as they are named after Bran and Skeola (Sceolan), two favourite Irish wolfhounds belonging to the legendary giant Finn MacCool. One day while out hunting, the dogs picked up the scent of a witch and gave chase. To aid her escape the witch changed herself into a deer but the two dogs still gained ground on her, so in desperation she cast a spell turning them both into solid rock.

Of course, Geologists are well known myth-busters, so they tell a very different story. Big Dog and Little Dog are made up of harder, more resistant sandstone compared to the sandstone found in the surrounding area. Over the centuries, the two small hills have been left standing proud above the landscape, as the softer rock has been worn away by wind, rain, and the erosive power of the ice sheets during the last Ice Age.

A study of Lough Nabrickboy and its glacial sediments found on the lakebed has provided vital clues to the island of Ireland’s icy past.

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Distances are from Big Dog Forest