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Walk of the Week: Dungannon Park Trail

By Linda Stewart

The Park Trail is set within the beautiful backdrop of Dungannon Park, a 70-acre parkland oasis.

Originally the private grounds of the Dungannon Park Estate granted to Sir Arthur Chichester in the early 1700s, it is now a council owned public park and a popular visitor location incorporating a fully serviced caravan park, rainbow trout fly fishery, tennis courts, barbeque area, orienteering trail and play park.

The Park Trail’s paths explore mature woodland, brightly-coloured flowerbeds and the magnificent 13-acre freshwater lake. The trail’s high ground offers the walker splendid viewpoints of surrounding townland and countryside with views as far as Lough Neagh on a clear day.

Directions

Situated off the Moy Road (A29), Dungannon Park is centrally located in the heart of Ulster and is easily accessible in all directions. Just one mile from the motorway, the M1 links Dungannon Park to Belfast (40 miles).

The A4 makes the west of Ireland easily accessible, with the A29 linking the Park with Armagh (14 miles) and Cookstown (10 miles).

From Belfast: leave M1 motorway at Junction 15 to join A29 towards Dungannon. Turn left at second traffic lights signed Dungannon Park.

This short circular walk starts from the car park at Dungannon Park and follows the path leading down to the lake, passing the wooden fishing lodge as you go.

Go left, continue along the path the entire way round the lake, passing over a bridge. Continue to follow the path along the lakeside. Descend the gradient at the bottom of the lake and pass by the dam over a newly-built wooden bridge.

Where there is a fork in the road, follow the path to the left, taking a right approximately 200 yards along the path. Meander up a gradient hill and admire the view once you have reached the top. This hill is known as Nunnery Hill. Continue along the fence through the gravel area and descend the hill on the other side.

At the bottom of the hill go straight ahead, following a tarmac path alongside an open grassland area and the park's football pitches. This will bring you back to the car park.

THE BACKDROP

Dungannon and South Tyrone is an area steeped in history. Known as the Seat of the O’Neills, the town itself boasts the legendary Castle Hill where the 2nd Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O’Neill, built his fort because of its lofty hilltop views.

Dungannon is also renowned for its sporting excellence with many well-known names from the world of soccer, golf, rugby, gaelic games and snooker.

The centrepiece of the Park Trail is undoubtedly the Park Lake, a 13-acre freshwater lake. The lake is not only an important visual feature for those who visit, but also provides recreational value in the form of angling and boating activities for thousands of fly-fishing enthusiasts every year.

The lake, although nowadays very much an established feature of the park, was not always part of the natural landscape. In the 1790s the then owner Viscount Northland ordered that the low-lying meadows of his considerable estate be flooded to create an ornamental lake.

The lake provides important habitats for wildlife, with visiting Canadian geese, mallard duck, swans and the occasional nesting grebe. It has witnessed an increasing number of otter visits and sightings of kingfisher in what is essentially a natural oasis on an urban fringe.

A striking feature of the lake is its stonemasonry dam, spanning 60 metres, which creates a waterfall effect as the water flows over the dam and downstream to Moygashel. Masonry dams of this period were relatively uncommon in Ireland but a similar dam in design and size is seen in John Smeaton’s 1776 example on the River Croquet, Co Durham.

There is a multitude of tree varieties planted along the walk, including oak, beech, wild cherry, horse chestnut, lime, birch and rowan.

The park trail leads the walker to Nunnery Hill, a vantage point which commands splendid views of the countryside.

FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) at, 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: Dungannon Park Trail.

Area: Dungannon Park.

Nearest big town to start point: Dungannon.

Distance: 1.2 miles, circular.

Terrain: Scenic parkland walk with surfaced and some unsurfaced paths and gentle gradients.

Access Restrictions: Dogs must be kept on leads. Toilet facilities, including a disabled toilet, can be accessed in the amenity building. Car parking and disabled car parking is available in the grounds of Dungannon Park.

Refreshments: Confectionery and hot and cold drinks are available from the vending machines in the amenity building or you can enjoy a cup of coffee or lunch at the Linen Green, a well-known designer retail outlet located within a 10-minute walking distance of the park through a connecting pathway within the park’s grounds.

Walk Developed By: Dungannon & South Tyrone Borough Council.

Map: Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discovery Series sheet 17, available from LPSNI Map Shop, Colby House, Stranmillis, Belfast BT9 SBJ (lpsni.gov.uk).

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