Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Killyfole Lough is a shore bet for a peaceful stroll

Killyfole Lough in the Fermanagh Lakelands was transformed into a popular bathing spot after sand was dumped along its eastern shore in the latter part of the 18th century.

The lake remained popular with the local people for many years but was closed to public access in the sixties and fenced round to become a reservoir, later deteriorating into a wilderness.

It has recently been re-opened to public access, thanks to an ambitious four-year refurbishment by a local community group, and if you’re lucky you could spot some of the rare Greenland white-fronted geese that still overwinter in the Sliabh Beagh bogs.

This 2.5km walkway around the lough has been developed by Killyfole Development Association to a high standard. Almost 1km of the path is suitable for wheelchairs.

Directions

Killyfole Lough is situated off the B36 road between Lisnaskea and Rosslea. You can either park at the old waterworks site or on the lay-by on the main road. Walk down to the shore — the route follows the shoreline of the lough in a 2.5 km loop.

This walking route circles Killyfole Lough on purpose-built stone chip, boardwalk and concrete paths. The shoreline is partially wooded with willow, alder and ash.

As well as the creation of the new walkway system, there have also been improvements in the wildlife habitat — creating nesting sites to attract ducks, swans and moorhens to the lake. There are some sandy sections to enjoy a paddle and also plenty of places to feed the large variety of ducks found by the lough shore.

As you walk this trail there are plenty of interpretative panels displaying wildlife information as well as improved seating and picnic areas. One kilometre of this trail is suitable for wheelchair users.

The Backdrop

Some 200 years ago Killyfole Lough was only about two-thirds its present area. A stream from the Strananeriagh Glen was diverted into it, a rampart constructed at the southwestern end and the water level raised by several metres.

This flooded the flat area around the original lake and resulted in a shallow shoreline with gradually increasing depth around most of the perimeter.

In time, eroded sand was carried across the lough and deposited along the Eastern shoreline to form an excellent and safe bathing facility. This was the unintended result of raising the water level — the real reason for doing so being to build a corn mill at Killyfole. This was done in the last half of the 18th century and operated under a variety of owners until the beginning of the 20th century.

The lough became a local picnic and bathing area for many years — however, during the Sixties the lake was closed to the public and was fenced around so that it could become a reservoir.

Killyfole Lough fell into disrepair and became a wilderness but an extensive four-year redevelopment project was undertaken by Killyfole Development Association and officially re-opened in August 2007.

At Killyfole Lough and in the surrounding countryside, you could catch a glimpse of Greenland white-fronted geese, a rare bird species that flies in from the Arctic to spend the winter on Irish bogs. In the past the skies over many parts of Ireland were filled with these birds but, sadly, as the bogs have been destroyed, their numbers have greatly declined. However, these birds can still be found on the Sliabh Beagh and Cuilcagh Bogs.

Nearby attractions include Rosslea Heritage Centre, which includes an 1874 schoolhouse with old school desks. Among the traditional farming implements on display is a McMahon spade, once manufactured locally, and a traditional fireplace as well as a famine exhibition.

There’s a tea room, shop, crafts, crochet work and genealogical searching service and the building is wheelchair accessible. Open Mon-Fri, 10am-3pm, from April-Sept, and out of hours by appointment.

Sliabh Beagh Arts in Rosslea provides a wide range of high quality arts activities, offering the opportunity for people to explore their creativity alongside professional artisans within a relaxed environment.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN), tel: 028 9030 3930 or walkni.com .

CAAN in association with Belfast Telegraph have 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: Killyfole Lough.

Area: Fermanagh Lakelands.

Nearest big town to start point: Rosslea.

Distance: 1.4 miles (2.5km) circular.

Terrain: Purpose-built stone chip, boardwalk and concrete paths. This is a short trail — however, care must be taken as many parts of the route follow the shoreline. The weather in Fermanagh can be unpredictable so it is always best to be prepared for all weather. You are advised to inform someone of your intended route before you leave.

Facilities: There is a bird hide and fishing stands suitable for wheelchair users, and a picnic table at the roadside car park.

Walk Developed By: The Killyfole and District Development Association

Map: Sheet 27 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from Land & Property Services Map Shop ( www.lpsni.gov.uk )

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