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Reflections on experiencing the best of this little bit of world around us

Why wild walking may grow your brain

The sea squirt starts life as a free swimming animal with a tail, an eye, a spine and a primitive brain. However, after a time it attaches itself permanently to a rock and undergoes ‘retrogressive metamorphosis’ losing its eye, spine and brain to become a water-pumping filter-feeding ‘blob’. Free movement requires brain power, static existence does not!

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Ely and Carrickreagh Woods

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TYPELakeside and deciduous woodland walk with views over Lough Erne and Green Turlogh
DISTANCE6.1 miles / 9.8 km
SURFACESMostly well made woodland tracks with some less defined path walking
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS530 feet climb
HAZARDSMajor road crossing, proximity to water and disused quarry

Walking in lakeland sounds attractive, but is actually very difficult. Lower Lough Erne alone has well over 125 miles of shoreline – but only a minute fraction of this is available to walkers. Also the best ‘lakeland’ walking is often on hills with views over the water – think of the English Lake District. So a good lakeland walk needs actual lakeside paths and hills with lake views. Ely and Carrickreagh Woods have both! In addition, this walk passes through some glorious semi-mature beech and larch wood and visits a beautiful hidden valley with Turloughs (vanishing limestone based lakes!)

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Blackslee Waterfall and Glimpses of Erne

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TYPELargely circular forest track walk through conifer plantations with some excellent views, vistas and a short path section to visit a waterfall.
DISTANCE3.9 miles / 6.2 km
SURFACESMainly well made forest tracks with short section on good quality path with some climb and steps
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS820 feet climb
HAZARDS

This is a fully waymarked walk which already has a description and map available on the Marble Arch Geopark website. Like many of the Geopark walks it is contained within conifer plantation and largely confined to forestry vehicle tracks. However, it features great panoramic views and framed glimpses of the loughs and hills of Fermanagh. There is also a short forest path section which leads through an intriguing rock valley to to Blackslee waterfall – an abrupt hidden drop almost totally shrouded by encroaching woodland.

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The Oaks of Crom Estate

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TYPECircular walk through the estate visiting mature oak woodland, oak parkland and a wooded island with mixed woodland.
DISTANCE5.2 miles / 8.2 km
SURFACESMostly well made compacted surfaces with gentle slopes. Inisherk section and parts of Culliaghs wood soft underfoot in places.
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS400 feet climb
HAZARDSSome walking on estate roads. Some walking on difficult soft ground.

We are told that Ireland was once an island covered in great forests and in those forests the mighty oak was the dominant tree. Today this is hard to envisage with oaks a rarity, generally confined to rocky ravines like the Ness Woods or Roe Valley Country Park. Even in these places they tend to be small with limited canopies. This walk in glorious Crom estate looks at alternative oak woodlands which hint at the possible true ancient landscape of Ireland.

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