Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Walk of the Week: Gortin Glen Forest Park

At the western gateway of the Sperrin Mountains is Gortin Glen Forest Park, which greets you with magnificent Japanese larch.

At the main car park, visitors can choose from three marked walks offering something for everyone interested in an outdoor experience.

The Ladies View Trail is 2.25 miles in length and follows the Pollan Burn past a waterfall and a steep climb uphill to the main viewpoint with expansive views across the forest and hills to the west. From here it's downhill through the forest all the way to the car park.

This walk is suitable for occasional pleasure walkers and young families with a reasonable level of fitness. There is a short steep section along this walk and the forest path can be uneven and narrow in some places.

Directions

Gortin Forest Park is 10 minutes’ drive north from Omagh on the B48 Gortin Road and less than two hours’ drive from Belfast.

The Ladies View Trail is marked as the red route from the main car park of Gortin Forest Park. It is a 2.25-mile route with some steep climbing and an uneven path that begins by following the Pollan Burn, with its watery soundtrack, uphill towards its source near the Mullaghcarn summit.

Within 10 minutes of the car park you reach a waterfall where you will be glad of an excuse to stop and take in the view before continuing uphill and criss-crossing the burn with wooden bridges and enjoying the views opening up across young woodland on your right.

You cross over a forest road and then continue up through mature Sitka spruce trees to another welcome rest point, with views back across the forest and the route just climbed.

Only a little farther uphill takes walkers to the forest drive and main viewpoint with expansive views across the forest and hills to the west. From here it's downhill all the way to the car park, initially walking through a young woodland before meeting the Pollan Burn again at the waterfall where you can choose to retrace the first part of the walk or take to the forest road for the final section back to the car park.

The Backdrop

Gortin Glen Forest Park is at the western gateway of the Sperrin Mountains. The forest park has plenty to offer with short and long walks, off-road cycling with graded routes for family cycling through to a technical single track trail and access to one of Northern Ireland’s four forest drives.

The forest drive is a five-mile route through the forest with plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the view. You could even meet the more energetic members of your group at the viewpoint shared with the Ladies View Trail and have a picnic at the tables provided while enjoying views across the countryside.

Magnificent Japanese larch give a ‘cathedral-like’ impression to anyone arriving at Gortin Glen Forest Park. The waterfall and rest point on the Ladies View Trail are well worth the steep walk up to them.

Beyond the waterfall, enthusiastic walkers can experience walking along a path that weaves through mature Sitka spruce trees planted about 45 years ago. Just after the main viewpoint where the Ladies View Trail meets the forest drive, the path turns downhill. The next section of the walk is through a recently replanted part of the forest park and you will see how small the trees are when planted.

Throughout the forest you will have opportunities to see buzzards wheeling high overhead and the sharper-eyed visitor might have the pleasure of seeing a native red squirrel in its favoured upland conifer habitat.

Although not on the waymarked routes, there is a deer enclosure only a short walk from the main car park. It boasts a well surfaced perimeter path that offers plenty of opportunity to see the small herd of Sika deer.

The Sperrin Mountains region of Northern Ireland is characterised by rounded mountains, glens and rivers and offers visitors a sense of space and solitude. Omagh District Council provide information for visitors through a tourist information service (tel 028 8224 5321) and local attractions include walking, cycling, scenic drives, fishing, horse riding and heritage attractions.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Countryside Access and Activities Network (CAAN) at 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: Gortin Glen Forest Park — Ladies View Trail.

Factfile

Area: Sperrins.

Nearest big town: Omagh.

Distance: 2.25 miles.

Time: Approximately one hour.

Terrain: All off-road walking, generally hard surfaces but some loose and uneven ground conditions.

Access Restrictions: Gortin Glen Forest Park opens from 10am until sunset every day of the year and entry is £4 per car.

Refreshments: Picnic tables are located along the forest drive and at key points shown on maps available at the main car park. A barbecue area and toilet facilities are available close to the main car park.

Publications: The Gortin Glen Forest Park Information Leaflet is available from Forest Service (forestserviceni.gov.uk or 028 9052 4480) and Omagh Tourist Information Office (omagh.gov.uk or 028 8224 5321).

Walk Developed By: Forest Service Northern Ireland.

Map: Sheet 13 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discovery Series, available from LPSNI Map Shop (lpsni.gov.uk).

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