With so many enchanting forests, spectacular views, intriguing castle ruins and islands to explore we wouldn’t blame you if you were struggling to plan a trip in the Fermanagh area. To help you, we have chosen our top 8 sites in the west of County Fermanagh within the Cuilcagh Lakelands UNESCO Global Geopark that are not to be missed.
Take time to dander, discover, and learn about the fascinating local heritage these sites have to offer.
Castle Caldwell Forest is an outstanding site which covers 200 hectares of mixed broadleaf and coniferous lowland forest, located on a peninsula on the northern shores of Lower Lough Erne. The eerie ruins of Castle Caldwell are undoubtedly the most striking feature within the forest. The castle was built in 1612 as part of the Plantation of Ulster by Sir Francis Blennerhasset, however the name of the castle comes from James Caldwell, an Enniskillen merchant who purchased the estate in 1662.
A series of forest waymarked trails of varying length traverse through this ancient woodland area, where views are dominated by the castle ruins and rugged shoreline. Here you also can see spectacular features such as, the intriguing Fiddler’s Stone, an impressive and unrivalled limestone kiln and an unusual half-moon limestone bench.
The area is a birdwatcher’s paradise; visitors will experience the wealth of native plants and wildlife species that led to this area being incorporated into the Lower Lough Erne Nature Reserve, which is managed and monitored by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
From the Irish Beal Leice meaning ‘mouth of the flagstones’, Belleek is the most westerly village on Lower Lough Erne, marking the exit of the River Erne before it flows west to Ballyshannon and into the Atlantic Ocean. The name comes from the flagstones that were once found in the riverbed before it was blasted out to increase the flow of water to the hydroelectric power station in Ballyshannon.
The village is most famous for its fine china produced at Belleek Pottery, the oldest pottery on the island of Ireland. The location of the pottery is no accident as all the raw materials necessary for production were at one time sourced from the surrounding area. The Visitor Centre offers a tea room overlooking the tranquil River Erne as well as tours of the museum, giving you the opportunity to see pieces dating back to when pottery started in 1857.
Magho Cliffs are a 5.5 miles long limestone escarpment that is a key landmark of the Geopark. The cliffs support many plants including the Irish rock-bristle, a black moss found on wet calcareous rocks such as limestone.
Making your way through the Area of Special Scientific Interest, you will wind your way up 1.3 miles of a difficult linear route, with many steps along the way, through the woodland, to be rewarded with the immense view at the top. At a height of 300 metres, the viewpoint offers a bird’s eye view of Lower Lough Erne and its islands and on a clear day, a panoramic view to include the rounded Sperrin mountains to the north east, the Blue Stack mountains to the north, and Slieve League, Donegal Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
If the walk isn’t for you then you could take a detour to the 7-mile-long scenic drive through Lough Navar Forest, which brings you directly to the top of Magho Cliffs, offering you the same spectacular view but with less effort needed.
Tully Castle nestled on the shores of Lower Lough Erne is one of several plantation castles in the Geopark and is the impressive remains of a fortified house and bawn built for the Hume family in the early 17th Century. The castle was attacked by the native Maguire’s in 1641 and it has never been lived in since.
Today, the site offers a walking route taking in the grandeur of the castle, passes a traditional Irish cottage which houses an interactive exhibition relating to the castle, as well as a pleasant circular walking route along the lough shore, through native woodland.
Ely Lodge Forest is located on the shores of Lower Lough Erne. The forest extends over 250 hectares and is a delightful mixture of both native deciduous and coniferous tree species, with each season bringing its own atmosphere to this beautiful lakeside forest. The forest is rich in wildlife and is steeped in a history dating back to the 17th Century.
A multi-accessible route along the lough shore enables this scenic woodland to be explored. If you would like more of a challenge, then a walk up to the Carrickreagh Viewpoint is a must with its spectacular panoramic views over the picturesque surroundings of Lower Lough Erne and its islands.
The early Christian monastery and round tower on Devenish Island is one of the island of Ireland’s iconic historical sites, which was founded in the 6th Century by Saint Molaise. During its history it has been raided by Vikings (837AD), burned (1157AD) and flourished (Middle Ages) as a parish church site and St Mary’s Augustine Priory.
There are ruins from different time periods on site; ranging from the earliest being St Molaise house (small church) and the round tower which are 12th Century to St Mary’s Augustinian Priory with a church, tower and small cloister on the hilltop which has been dated from the middle 15th Century to early 16th Century. The island has a long and fascinating history which is detailed in the extensive exhibition area.
The monastery is beautifully located on an island on Lower Lough Erne and is only accessible by water, therefore it is open to boat owners/hirers, water taxi (seasonal) or a public boat tour (seasonal). Public boat tours depart from both the Round ‘O’ in Enniskillen and Trory jetty, just outside of Enniskillen.
Enniskillen Castle Museums is situated beside the River Erne and was built almost 600 years ago by the ruling Gaelic Maguires. Guarding one of the few passes into Ulster; it has been strategically important throughout its history. Today, the historic site houses Fermanagh County Museum, The Inniskillings Museum, as well as a Visitor Information Centre, coffee shop and a genealogy service.
The historic attraction promotes the unique heritage of Fermanagh from pre-historic times to the present-day, preserving its important collections of archaeology, local history, arts and folklife for future generations.
Belmore Forest is nestled in the heart of Fermanagh’s Boho cave country and covers much of Belmore Mountain. The extensive maze of caves beneath your feet attract cavers and potholers from far and wide. The forest walk of over 4 miles takes you past many fascinating geological and historical sites; the highlight amongst them is undoubtedly Pollnagollum Cave which was once used as a show cave during Victorian times and more recently featured in the popular television series Game of Thrones. A viewing platform provides a great vantage point into the impressive cave entrance which is fed by a beautifully cascading waterfall toppling down a 12 metre limestone cliff.
Belmore Forest lies approximately 5 miles above the small village of Belcoo in western Fermanagh. It is home to all the necessary local amenities, to include a pharmacy, pubs, grocery shop, the Customs House County Inn as well as the Cottage Lawn. Situated on the shores of Lough MacNean and alongside the Belcoo River, with a playground located on site, it is an ideal area to bring children to play.
An outstanding site, both for its peninsular position on the shores of Lower Lo...
Church Hill, Fermanagh
Nestled on the shores of Lower Lough Erne, are the impressive remains of a forti...
The forest extends over 250 hectares and is a delightful mixture of both native ...
The early Christian Monastery and round tower at Devenish is one of Ireland’s mo...
Take your time to explore the fascinating, picturesque and unique landscapes tha...
The Cuilcagh Mountain route takes you all the way round the majestic Cuilcagh Mo...