Aghnaglack Walk takes you through one of the largest continuous forestry tracts in Northern Ireland, mostly along forest tracks and with few gradients. This lengthy, yet comfortable walk offers impressive views across Lough MacNean to Cuilcagh Mountain. The most significant feature of this walk is the Aghnaglack Dual Court Tomb.
Click here for the Aghnaglack Walk Map.
Distance: 12.3km (7.5miles)
Time: 3 hours Grade: Moderate/difficult
Terrain: All types, but mostly forest track.
Route: Clockwise circular
Wheelchair friendly: No
Facilities: Car parking, site interpretation and a waymarked walking route.
Map: OSNI Discoverer Series Sheet 17 Lower Lough Erne
Grid Reference: IH 091 430
Ballintempo Forest along with Carrigan, Big Dog, Conagher and Lough Navar forests in west Fermanagh combine to form the largest continuous tract of forest in Northern Ireland covering over 8,500 hectares. 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 it is a valuable and protected semi-natural habitat.
Along the beginning of the walk you may see evidence of hand-cut turf (or peat) on the extensive blanket bog. This age-old tradition provides a window into the past and lets you see what most of the landscapes of West Fermanagh would have looked like before forestry plantation. The walk continues through the working forest, where a range of habitats for birds and mammals have been created, depending on the particular stage of tree production.The isolated tree trunks that are often seen after timber harvesting are in fact raptor posts, or perches for birds of prey, who feed on the small mammals that take up residence in the overgrowth after harvesting.
The route takes you past the intriguing Brimstone Rock, a large outcrop of pale-coloured sandstone visible from the forest track. . It is unclear where the rock gets its name as there are no exposures of brimstone (or sulphur) in the vicinity. It is believed that Brimstone Rock was used as a ‘mass rock’ during the 17th Century when Catholic worship was made illegal. The bench overlooking the rocky outcrop offers a spectacular view of Cuilcagh Mountain, Fermanagh’s highest point at 666 metres.
The final stretch of the track skirts the reedy shoreline of Lough Blocknet. This freshwater pond is believed to be home to the rare aquatic plant, the smooth stonewort and offers a tranquil haven for plants and wildlife alike. The walk continues along the forest track before passing Aghnaglack (meaning ‘field of the hollow’) Dual Court Tomb, where you will experience the timeless quality of this beautiful ancient landscape. This Neolithic tomb is thought to have been constructed around 4000 to 6000 years ago and is described as a dual court tomb, due to the presence of two ‘courtyards’ at its entrance. In its original state the tomb was roofed with large stone slabs and covered with stones and possibly earth, to make an impressive mound.