For Ulster Way walkers, Fermanagh's Florencecourt to Belcoo section offers two route options, featuring some particularly varied and interesting walking. The Cuilcagh Way an adventurous mountain loop, suitable for experienced walkers, tackles the 665m-high summit of Cuilcagh Mountain, while lower down an easier alternative explores the historic Florence Court estate, the internationally famous Marble Arch Caves and the verdant gorge of the Cladagh River. Both options start from Florence Court and come together again close to the Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre so it is possible to combine the two into a single loop.
PLEASE NOTE: There is a temporary closure on the Summit Trail on the Cuilcagh Way. See Printable Map - Florencecourt to Belcoo 2 - Aghatirourke to Skea Hill for details
The undoubted centrepiece of this area is the flat-topped Cuilcagh Mountain. As a consequence of its unusual geological features and important upland habitats, its northern slopes have been designated as a Global Geopark, a Ramsar site, a Special Area of Conservation and Area of Special Scientific Interest. One of the most interesting features of this area is the many cave systems that permeate the mountain. The most famous of these, the Marble Arch Caves is open to the public and has drawn tourists to the region for decades.
The water caves have their source in sinkholes on Cuilcagh's lower and middle slopes, where soluble limestone allows surface water to disappear underground. Some of these sinkholes are visible along the Brookfield and Legnabrocky sections of the Cuilcagh Way. Impermeable shales are also found on these slopes, underlying some of the most extensive areas of upland blanket bog in Northern Ireland. The summit itself consists of hard gritstone that is much more resistant to the erosive power of the elements. In fact it is the different rate of weathering between the gritstone and the softer rocks that has created Cuilcagh's signature escarpments.
There are also two nature reserves to be discovered at the foot of the mountain. Hanging Rock and Marble Arch each contain delicate woodlands that harbour red squirrel and pine marten. Not far from the route are Crossmurrin and Killykeeghan reserves, together these represent a significant proportion of Northern Ireland’s limestone grassland.
Those who love heritage, history and formal gardens will enjoy the early sections around Florence Court House. The house is a fascinating example of mid-18th century Irish Palladian architecture, and was the former home of the Earls of Enniskillen. Construction was started in the early 1720’s by John Cole, grandson of Sir William Cole, founder of the town of Enniskillen, and completed around 1775. It was named Florence after his wife.
Florence Court’s most notable tree, the Irish Yew (Taxus baccata ‘fastigiata’), is located along the route of the Cuilagh Way. It is the mother of all Irish Yews and was one of two seedlings dug up in the townland of Carraig-na-madagh by local gamekeeper Mr George Willis. One was given to his landlord, Lord Enniskillen who replanted it at Florence Court, where it prospered. During the 19th century many cuttings were taken from this parent source and dispatched far and wide, and today all fastigiated yews across the world can be said to have derived from this single tree.
Please be aware that this walking route passes through areas of open land such as hillside, working farmland and working forests. Livestock may be present, ground conditions may be uneven or wet underfoot and all forestry signage should be adhered to. Please refer to the ‘Walk Safely and Responsibly’ information in the Useful Info tab above.
Forest trail & quiet rural roads
Point of interest
Florencecourt, Florencecourt House, Florencecourt Forest Park, Marble Arch Caves, Cuilcagh Mountain, Cladagh Glen, Blacklion, Belcoo
Refreshments are available in the National Trust – Florencecourt House Tea Room and Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre from Easter to Autumn and also year round in villages of Belcoo and Blacklion.
There is one Bed and Breakfast near the start of the section in the Florencecourt with a campsite, a few Bed and Breakfasts and Gueshouse at the finish of the section in Belcoo.
Walkers may wish to stay in the wide range of accommodation in the county town of Enniskillen the night before starting at Florencecourt.
N.B. Blacklion is situated in the Republic of Ireland and therefore the currency of choice is Euros – although Sterling is widely accepted.