Discover The Geopark
Castle Caldwell Forest is a 200 hectare mixed broad-leaf and coniferous lowland forest located on a peninsular along the northern shores of Lower Lough Erne. Castle Caldwell is an outstanding site, both for its peninsular position on the shores of Lower Lough Erne and also for the remnants of the estate itself. The name of the castle actually comes from James Caldwell, an Enniskillen merchant who purchased the estate in 1662. Castle Caldwell is located 5 miles from the town of Belleek. A series of forest tracks traverse through this ancient woodland area, where views are dominated by the Castle ruins and rugged shoreline.
The ruins of Castle Caldwell are undoubtedly the most striking feature within Castle Caldwell Forest. Built in 1612 as part of the Plantation of Ulster by Sir Francis Blennerhasset, the name of the castle actually comes from James Caldwell, an Enniskillen merchant who purchased the estate in 1662, Sir James Caldwell spent a further £16,000 building, ‘a most comfortable good house, a very large court of excellent offices, …two very large walled gardens with fish ponds, a beautiful temple built on the Black Rock glazed with painted glass’. Caldwell Castle the Beautiful Seat of Sir James Caldwell in Ireland. F. Newbery, London (1780).
During the 1840`s the Caldwell family fortune declined, leading to the entire estate, including the village of Belleek, being passed to John Caldwell Bloomfield. It was bloomfield who commissioned a geological survey of the estate, revealing rich mineral deposits of Feldspar and Kaolin (china clay). These minerals are important raw materials used in the production of fine china and so Bloomfield capitalised on his good fortune by founding the now world famous Belleek Pottery.
The Castle is now in the management of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the grounds are the property of Forest Service Northern Ireland.
On-site facilities include picnic tables, car parking, interpretation, 3 walking routes and a jetty.