Ways

Descriptions with maps, travel details, distances, physical difficulty of walks and other ways to explorer the great outdoors and have yourself a “Grand Day Out”

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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Murlough Bay (under Fair Head)

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TYPECoastal loop walk mainly on tracks but with short rough shore section (easy linear option). Significant climb required.
DISTANCE 3.5 miles / 5.6 km
SURFACESMostly well made compacted surfaces with variable slopes except for short rough coastal section (no path)
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS900 feet climb (linear option extra 100 feet)
HAZARDS
  • Exposed isolated area with no mobile phone signal
  • Optional shore section rough and slippy
  • (no path)
  • Road walking on steep, narrow, but very low traffic road

Murlough Bay is one of our wildest and most beautiful places. If we had National Parks, this area should be part of one. However, it is not pristine wilderness – its rocks, woods and plains tell a story of long human occupation, farming, mining and spirituality – all adding richness to the fascination of this unique place.

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Marble Arch and the Marlbank Karst

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Route Map (Overview)
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TYPELinear walk – riverside paths, minor road and mountain lanes and paths
DISTANCE7.9 miles / 12.7 km (both ways)
SURFACESMostly well made compacted surfaces. One short section potentially wet open mountain ground
HEIGHT GAIN / LOSS900 feet climb
HAZARDS
  • 1.5 mile walk on a minor public road.

  • Upper section of the walk is in exposed mountainous terrain

  • No Dogs allowed on Gortmaconnell farmland.

Karst is a scientific term for a kind of landscape created by limestone and water where the normal behaviours of rivers, rocks and landforms don’t apply and indeed are turned almost inside-out! Rivers abruptly vanish underground to later re-appear at some apparently arbitrary point. Dry hollows, sink holes, rocky valleys and heights form a strange, sometimes dangerous alien landscape and everywhere is underlain with an ultra complex 3-D maze of wet and dry passages and caverns. There is nothing else quite like it and in the Marble Arch / Marlbank area of the Fermanagh Geopark we have a superb example.

This Karst walk follows a river upstream from deeply wooded Cladagh Glen, past the lower entrances to the Marble Arch cave system, up onto the Marlbank plateau and then along an initially dry mountain valley, past a sinkhole to join the Owenbrean river as it flows from its head waters in the blanket bogs of Cuilcagh Mountain.

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Glenariff Mountain and Glens

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Glenariff Waterfalls walks first opened to the public in 1889 as a railway ‘special attraction’ managed by the Northern Counties Railway and accessed by train from Ballymena to Parkmore and then a ride in a jaunting car. The Ess-na-Larach Tea House opened in 1891 and its successor, Laragh Lodge restaurant, still operates on the same site today.

Tourism from Ireland and Great Britain was fundamental to the business of the Northern Counties Railway, and Glenariff Glen, along with the Giant’s Causeway and the Gobbins path, were its core visitor attractions. In the inter-war period over 30,000 visitors a year made the journey here via the Ballymena – Parkmore railway, terminating at the highest train station in Ireland.

I have called this route ‘Glenariff Mountain and Glens’ as much of it runs above the forest tree line at over 800 feet and affords some of the best high walking views to be had in the Glens of Antrim. It also visits both branches of the upper Glenariff, follows the route of the first narrow gauge railway in Ireland (the mineral railway) and ends by climbing past the spectacular waterfalls, which first brought the Victorian visitors here 130 years ago.

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