Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Get away from it all on the remote Sliabh Beagh Way

The Sliabh Beagh Way passes through some of the most remote parts of the Ulster countryside as it follows a meandering 40-mile course across the backbone of the Sliabh Beagh hills.

Along the way it offers walkers plenty of historical richness, many chances of spotting wildlife and panoramic views from the higher ground.

This route is a 6.8 mile section of this long-distance walk and takes in the blanket bog of the Sliabh Beagh area. The bogland supports rich and varied flora and fauna. Listen out for the characteristic calls of cuckoos or watch out for rare hen harriers soaring overhead.

Directions

Please note that a detailed map of this route can be found on walkni.com .

Before arriving at Clogher take a left turn at the B83 from the A4 and follow the Old Monaghan Road until the Bragan crossroads. There take a right turn and drive up to the Penal Cross Picnic area and car park.

Set off, following the road passing Lough Bradan on your right-hand side. When you arrive at the T-junction turn right. This takes you through the forest.

At Rock Bridge take the right fork uphill towards Carricknabrock, turning left after 10 minutes onto a waymarked track. After a further 10 minutes, follow the waymarkers to your left across the bog towards Lough Aportan.

Although this section is well waymarked, care should be taken in poor visibility. If in doubt consider using the alternative bad-weather route.

Cross the bridge and aim for the right of Lough Aportan before winding around to meet a track. Follow the track south until it reaches a small footbridge on the right and cross it onto another section of bog. Look for a footbridge lower down on the left that crosses the Colebrooke River.

Once across this you are in County Fermanagh and Mullaghfad Forest. Turn left onto a forest track and keep left as it descends to a road. A gate leads to a minor road at Muckle Rocks, two to three hours from Bragan Penal Cross.

Bad weather route

This alternative route starts at Bragan Penal Cross. Again follow the road passing Lough Bradan on the right. Turn right at the T-junction — however, this time which you reach Rock Bridge take the left fork towards Lough Meenish. Follow this road as it winds its way downhill passing Lough Meenish on the right.

Turn right at a junction and follow this road through the hamlet of Knockatallan for 30 minutes to a junction at Blackwater River Bridge.

Turn right here and walk uphill to a T-junction. Turn right to cross into County Fermanagh at the County Bridge and rejoin the main route near Muckle Rocks. Total walking time for this section is just over two hours.

The Backdrop

The route winds through wild moorland interspersed with sections of forestry. A section of the blanket bog around Sliabh Beagh has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for its peatland habitat. It is also a Special Protection Area (SPA) for breeding hen harriers — a species of high conservation importance.

The many loughs in the area are renowned for their wild brown trout and other fish species such as pike, bream, rudd and perch.

Walkers may also come across newts, frogs, and dragonflies as well as a host of plant life including willow, horsetails and common reeds that act as a natural filter to purity the water.

All across the mountain, walkers can see evidence of tracks — some still used, others abandoned — that allowed access for people to cut turf during the summer. Turf used to be an important source of fuel and each family had an allocated section of the mountain known as a ‘turbary’ where everyone would be involved with cutting and drying.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please telephone Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), tel: 9030 3930 or visit www.walkni.com

CAAN in association with Belfast Telegraph has provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. CAAN and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.

Walk Name: Sliabh Beagh Way — Section 2 Bragan to Muckle Road.

Area: Clogher Valley.

Nearest big town to start point: Clogher.

Distance: 6.8 miles/10.9km.

Terrain: Minor roads, tracks and open moorland.

Access Restrictions: Dogs must be on leads at all times.

Refreshments: Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown; Corick House Hotel; Sliabh Beagh Hotel in Knockatallon.

Publications: Sliabh Beagh Waymarked Way guide — Section 3. You can pick up a copy of this at Fermanagh TIC, tel: 6632 3110 or Killymaddy TIC, tel: 8776 7259. Alternatively contact Sliabh Beagh Hotel & Tourism Centre on 00353 47 89014.

Walk Developed By: Fermanagh District Council, Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council and Monaghan County Council and supported by Blackwater Regional Partnership.

Map: Sheet 18 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series ( lpsni.gov.uk ).

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