Discover The Geopark
Ballintempo Forest provides car parking, site interpretation and a way-marked walking route. Located 8 km from Belcoo village, Ballintempo is predominantly coniferous forest with large areas of open bog land and wooded gullies. The forest is strewn with outcrops of rocky crags and upland lakes including the well-known Brimstone Rock, a large outcrop of sandstone offering a fantastic vantage point to take in the impressive views of Cuilcagh Mountain and the surrounding area. Cuilcagh Mountain with its distinctive plateau shape and stepped profile is the highest point in Fermanagh and Cavan peaking at 665 metres.
Much of the landscape in the vicinity of Ballintempo Forest is blanket bog. Blanket bog accumulates because of the very slow rate at which plant material decomposes in areas that are waterlogged. It can cloak whole landscapes and is not confined to areas of poor drainage. Studies suggest that blanket bog or peat began developing 5000 – 6000 years ago. Traditionally peat was (and in many places still is) an important natural fuel source for household fires all over Ireland. Peat cutting and harvesting is physical work requiring specialist skills handed down from generation to generation. The whole process holds an important community aspect to it, involving friends, relations and neighbours. During the summer period you can see the local communities in this area hard at work cutting peat.
One of the most intriguing features in the forest is the large outcrop of rock called Brimstone Rock. It is unclear where the rock gets its name as there are no exposures of brimstone (or sulphur) in the vicinity. One theory is that Brimstone Rock was used as a mass rock during the mid-seventeenth century when Catholic worship was prohibited.
The forest is also home to a prehistoric Dual Court Tomb at Aghnaglack, it is described as a dual court tomb due to the presence of small courtyards at either end. In its original state the tomb was roofed with large stone slabs and covered with stones and possibly earth, to make an impressive mound. The tomb dates from the Neolithic period between 6,000 and 8,000 years and is set in the spectacular backdrop of the rugged Boho Mountains.
Ballintempo Forest along with the forests of Carrigan, Big Dog, Conagher and Lough Navar in West Fermanagh combine to form the largest continuous tract of coniferous forest in Northern Ireland, covering over 8,500 hectares. The area is full of interesting geology, mythology and wildlife and is well worth a visit!
On-site facilities include car parking, interpretation and a walking route.