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AboutThe uplands of west Fermanagh are comprised of a fractured mosaic of high plateaux, cut deeply by lake-filled valleys and topped by forestry and blanket bog. This 22 mile-long section of the Ulster Way between Belcoo and Belleek explores some of the most remote corners of the region. It also affords the option of taking in the celebrated views from the Cliffs of Magho by walking an additional loop through Lough Navar Forest.
The section begins in Belcoo, a quiet village straddling the low-lying ground between Lough Macnean Upper and Lough Macnean Lower. The first few miles take you past Lurgan River Woods Area of Special Scientific Interest where a range of native trees including birch, willow, sessile oak and Scots Pine are sheltered by the steep-sided valley. A small population of the rare Green-flowered Helleborine also occurs at the southern extreme of Lurgan River Wood. This protected species has only been recorded in a handful of sites in Northern Ireland. A gradual ascent takes you out of the Lough Macnean Valley and onto the Ballintempo uplands. Several hours of walking link Ballintempo, Big Dog and Conagher forests. There are beautiful mountain loughs along the way, as well as the evocative ruins of old farm dwellings. During the 19th century a significant farming population occupied sheltered valleys and pockets of better soils. Many of these farms are now abandoned and the former field boundaries lost within forestry plantations. Also scattered over the plateau are many Neolithic sites, some of which lie within a short distance of the route. At Lough Navar Forest you are presented with the choice of either walking directly to Belleek or detouring through the Forest. This additional loop makes a fine circular walk in its own right. Its attractions include Correl Glen National Nature Reserve, a beautiful oak woodland . The famed viewpoint from the Cliffs of Magho looks out from just such an escarpment. The many lakes dotted throughout the forest are important habitats for insects including the Irish damselfly and several Priority Species of moths and butterflies. The presence of white-clawed crayfish in Lough Navar and Meenameen Lough indicates the high quality of the water in these mountain loughs. There are also many features of geological and historical significance located along the route, most notable are the Blacklee dyke, a geological feature made from once molten rock stretching for 1.5km in a north westerly direction and the glacially deepened valley now occupied by Lower Lough Erne and its associated drumlin islands. 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’ information included in the Walk Safely + Responsibly link in the Useful Info tab above.
Quiet rural roads, forest tracks
Point of interest:
Belcoo, Lough Navar Viewpoint, Belleek
Refreshments are available at both the start and the finish of the route in Belcoo and Belleek. However this is a long route with no refreshment stops along the way – walkers should carry provisions accordingly. There is a campsite, a few Bed and Breakfasts and Guesthouse at the start of the section in Belcoo, with one hotel, one B&B and one Guesthouse at the finish in Belleek. There are limited accommodation options along this section of the route so walkers may wish to arrange collection from accommodation to the east of the route in Derrygonnely. There is however the Heathergrove Country Guesthouse based along the route on the Glensheevar Road - west of Conagher Forest on your way to Belleek.