The Cuilcagh Mountain is the only mountain in Ireland that is situated in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. It is the highest point in both Cavan and Fermanagh and on a beuatiful sunny Monday a few weeks ago, myself and Mam decided to do the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky trail. I had heard lots of stories about this walk and seen some amazing pictures. When I did my research on the walk some websites were stating that it was a 6 hour hike!! Now we are not seasoned hikers by any stretch of the imagination, so we said we would give ourselves the 6 hours.
We left Redhills in Co Cavan at around 10am and it took us just under an hour to reach the Cuilagh Mountain Park. From Redhills we took the road to Butlersbrigde to join the N3. You are travelling North from here towards Enniskillen. Once you pass Belturbet this turns into the A509 and you are officially in Northern Ireland. We stayed on this road through Derrylin. Around 6 kms past Derrylin you will see a sign for Florencecourt and the Marble arch caves to the left hand side. Follow this road straight for another 6 or so kms and then you will see another sign to the left for the Marble arch caves and the Cuilcagh Mountain Park. Just past the entrance to the marble arch caves you come upon the car park.
There was a good few cars parked there already but there is plenty of space. We loaded up our bags and headed for the gate. There is an information board at the first gate mapping out the walk and telling you about the flora and fauna along the route. We were well prepared with our water and food and Mam with her stick so we were off!
The first 4 kms of the walk brings you along a well worn farm road. It was an easy enough walk with a few hills here and there but nothing too strenuous. The scenery is pretty spectacular around here. There are remains of old Irish cottages and the barren terrain would make you think why anyone would have lived out here. Along the way there are more information boards telling you about the Cuilcagh mountain bog. Apparently in the spring this whole area turns white with bog cotton and then soon after in summer it turns shades of purple with the moor grass and heather. These would be perfect times to visit. After walking for around half an hour the summit of Cuilcagh finally came in to sight- but it was a long long way off. We were still taking it fairly handy and not rushing ourselves at all (we were far too busy gossiping! :))
After an hour on the gravel track we came to the boardwalk. This is where you start your ascent of the mountain and I must say its so easy to walk on. There is a bit of a bounce on it so its pretty safe also. The boardwalk provides protection to the blanket bog below you and also keeps your feet dry! The boardwalk climb is fairly gradual and it took us another half an hour to reach the stairs that would take us up to the summit of the mountain.
I was a little bit worried here that the steps would be quite tough but there are railings on both sides of you again and the stairs are gradual with plenty of breaks in the climb between them. (Saying that quite a few people passed us out- it wasn’t a race in fairness!!) It took us just under two hours to reach the summit of the mountain so we were pretty proud of ourselves. Once you get to the top the muck is everywhere! There is a sign at the end of the boardwalk that warns you not to go any further if you aren’t wearing hiking boots and haven’t the proper gear with you. Heed this sign!
We continued walking to the very crest of the mountain but I got absolutely soaked! The ground here is very wet and quite uneven. It’s quite easy to get lost up here also. We headed over as far as the fence that separates Cavan from Fermanagh (Ireland’s answer to the wall!) and as there was no way over the fence from this spot we turned around. We had completely lost our bearings though so you need to be aware of where you are up here. If you walk over the left when you reach the top of the mountain you will find an old stone burial cairn on the Cavan side of the Mountain. We didn’t go over that far as my feet were wet and we decided to get out the flask of tea!
The view from up here was amazing and we found a rock to sit down on and have our tea and Sandwiches! Apparently on a really good day you can see both the Atlantic and the Irish sea from here. We spotted Lower and Upper Lough Erne and of course Enniskillen as well. After our well deserved rest we headed back towards the boardwalk again and back down the mountain. There was plenty of people out walking on this day and it was great to see all ages enjoying the facility! The mountain park is part of the Marble arch caves global geopark and if you had time at all this is definitely worth a visit- if your poor legs will allow!
We were up and down the mountain in less than 4 hours so it is a really do able trek. Suitable for all ages! The path itself is really well kept also and we met a few rangers that day cleaning out rubbish bins and keeping the area well maintained! Embarrassingly enough, when we got back to the car, one of these lovely gentlemen was standing beside my car. He asked me if the car was mine and I said it was. He then pointed out that he had been keeping an eye on it all afternoon as the passengers door was wide open! At first I thought someone had gotten into the car- but no- Mam had just casually walked away from the car and left her door wide open! There was nothing of value on display anyway but it just goes to show you that its important to leave all valuables in the boot when you’re leaving your car for a few hours! Big thank you though to the rangers for looking after us!
I have attached a few helpful links for you below for when you do this walk. It is completely free and is a great way to get out and get active this spring/summer! It’s an amazing amenity on many of our doorsteps! As always- Happy Galavanting! xx