Discover The Geopark

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.  The 1,097 hectares of forest steeped in history and is located approximately 12 km outside the village of Derrygonnelly. The forest 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.


View from summit of Little Dog

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 McCool. 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.

Lough Nabrickboy from Little Dog

Lough Nabrickboy from Little Dog

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.

There are several lakes within Big Dog Forest. One of these lakes is Lough Nabrickboy which is split in two by a causeway that provides a crossing. Lough Nabrickboy is an important site for studying glacial sediments found on the lake bed that give us vital clues to Ireland’s icy past. Many of the lakes are hidden amongst the Sitka spruce conifer plantation and can only be viewed from higher vantage points such as Little Dog. Many species of damselflies and dragonflies can be seen around the fringes of these lakes.  Hen harriers, Sika and red deer are also frequently seen in this forest.

Large Red Damselfly

The walk in Big Dog Forest offers the opportunity to experience one of Fermanagh`s finest upland landscapes. The walk takes in the rugged landscape of Fermanagh’s uplands, the reedy shorelines of its many lakes and the mystical atmosphere of its forests. A highlight of the walk is the 360 degree view from the top of Little Dog.

Click on the links below to find out more about the walk at Big Dog Forest:

Big Dog Forest Walk Map

Big Dog Forest Walk Information