Discover The Geopark
The Cuilcagh Mountain route takes you all the way round the majestic Cuilcagh Mountains at the heart of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. This breathtaking journey takes in some of the most stunning landscape and heritage that the Geopark has to offer. The itinerary starts at the Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre but the route can be started from any of the stopping points.
Distance: 56.3km/ 35miles Time: 8+ hours
Click Cuilcagh Mountain to download a map of this route
The Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre was opened by Fermanagh District Council in 1985. It is not only the starting point for the Marble Arch Caves tour but it is one of the flagship sites of the Geopark. Facilities include showcave tour, interpretation, toilets, cafe, picnic area, free wifi, car and coach parking and an audio visual theatre. The visitor centre is situated beside the Marble Arch National Nature Reserve.
The village of Blacklion is located between Upper and Lower Lough MacNean, which are connected by a small river which indeed marks the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Blacklion lies on one side of the river in County Cavan, and is connected to Belcoo in County Fermanagh by a bridge.
White Fathers Cave is one of many limestone caves in the Geopark and is a particularly good example of an active river forming a cave. The cave is an important bat roost and is named after the monks who lived in the nearby monastery, now a prison. All caves can be dangerous so please do not go inside.
Cornagee or Corr na Gaoithe translates literally as rounded windy hill and its elevated location allows fantastic views over the surrounding landscape. Upper Lough MacNean and Loweer Lough MacNean occupy a U-shaped valley carved out by massive ice sheets during the last Ice Age that ended 13,000 years ago.
The Cavan Burren Forest is an active conifer forest owned and managed by Coillte Teoranta, the Irish semi-state forest service. The forest is one of the finest preserved relict landscapes in Ireland containing a wealth of archaeological and historical monuments some of which date back to the Neolithic period.
Garvagh Lough is linked to complex underground river systems. Local stories say that the area was used for distilling illegal spirits or potín, and when two revenue officers were approaching, the stills were quickly thrown into the lake and later found over 2km away in the Shannon Pot.
One of three cashel found in the townland of Moneygashel, the central cashel is regarded as one of the finest of its kind in southern Ulster. A cashel is the name given to a circular, stone enclosure, usually constructed in early Christian times. Cashels made defensive walls around houses and animal shelters, which were often built out of timber and clay.
8. Shannon Pot
As the surface source of Ireland’s longest river, the Shannon Pot’s fame can be traced back to the legendary Finn MacCool and the Fianna, the great warriors of Irish mythology. Legend has it that Síonnan, the daughter of Lodan (a son of the Celtic God of the Sea, Lír), came to the Shannon Pot in search of the great Salmon of Wisdom. The great salmon was angered at the sight of Síonnan and caused the pool to overflow and drown the maiden. Thus the Shannon was created and still bears her name today.
Glangevlin or Gleann Ghaible is often interpreted as the glen (or valley) with the fork. However, traditionally the name is said to have derived from the mythical cow Glas Gaibhleann which belonged to Gaibhen, the blacksmith of the Tuatha Dé Danann, an ancient tribe said to have inhabited this area 5000 years ago.
10. Altachullion Viewpoint
The contrasting views from Altachullion offer a rare chance to see the more rugged northern landscapes of the Geopark dominated by Cuilcagh Mountain, alongside the gently rolling drumlin lowlands that dominate the southern part of the region. The area immediaetly surrounding the viewpoint is home to one of the largest expanses of intact blanket bog in Ireland, protected as a Special Area of Conservation and including many interesting plant species such as deer grass and bog asphodel. The area is also home to rare bird species such as Golden Plover, Peregrine and Merlin.
Tullydermot Falls occur in the upper reaches of the Cladagh River, a tributary of the Erne River, that flows eastwards from its source in the Cuilcagh Mountains towards Swanlinbar. The falls are caused by the action of the water on the underlying bedrock which consists of alternating layers of hard sandstones and softer shales. The fast flowing river erodes the soft rock leading to the undercutting and collapse of the overlying hard rock and it is gradually cutting its way upstream.
Swanlinbar has an interesting history linked to the region’s geology. The official Irish name of Swanlinbar is An Muileann Iarainn meaning ‘Iron Mill’ and reflects presence of an ironworks in the town in the early 18th Century. Some years later Swanlinbar was famous for its natural mineral spas, which attracted many people to the village. Sadly, both of these industries have long since disappeared.
13.Drumod Sulphur Spa
Swanlinbar today is a quiet village, but for over 200 years, it was a thriving, bustling town, with people coming from all over Britain and Europe to drink from the spa (or mineral) wells. These wells contain water that is rich in naturally occurring minerals, such as iron, magnesium or sulphur, as is the case here at Drumod, and it was believed that these minerals gave the water healing qualities.
14. Gortalughany Viewpoint
The abandoned quarries on the way to the Gortalughany viewpoint display the Carboniferous limestone that underlies much of this part of the Geopark. The limestone was deposited in layers over 330 million years ago, at the bottom of a shallow tropical sea that covered most of what we now know as Ireland. The viewpoint offers wonderful views of Cuilcagh Mountain and of Upper Lough Erne with its many drowned drumlin islands.
Benaughlin Mountain lies within the Cuilcagh Mountains range, in the centre of the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. Benaughlin or Binn Eachlabhra as it is known in Irish, translates as the peak of the speaking horse. The mountain is home to many myths and legends including one that tells of a mythical white horse that appears every Bilberry Sunday to foretell the future. A rough path to the top gives fine views of the surrounding countryside.
16. Florence Court House
The first Florence Court House was built in the 18th Century by Sir John Cole for his wife Florence. Home to the Earls of Enniskillen, the present house was built later in the 18th Century and is now in the ownership of the National Trust who provide guided tours of this fine house.
17. Florence Court Forest Park
Florence Court Forest Park covers an area of 1,200 hectares and this old estate forest and moorland is currently managed by the National Trust. Facilities in the forest park include car parking, toilets, waymarked walking and cycle trails. The park offers widely contrasting habitats including open mountain, blanket bog, coniferous forest and old estate woodland. To find our more about the places mentioned in this itinerary please visit the Fermanagh Lakeland Tourism and Cavan Tourism websites.