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One of my favourite things to do when at home in Fermanagh is to take our family dog Bonnie for walks. We tend go to quieter locations to avoid fellow walkers getting mobbed and licked to death by our excitable pup. In this article I have highlighted my five favourite places for dog walking in the beautiful countryside close to home.
1. Necarne Estate
Having grown up nearby, Necarne Estate has always been like an extension to our family garden. I have spent days exploring the grounds surrounding the castle and have many fond memories of being here. The estate is full of history and has taken on many different roles in its existence. This includes being a hospital for RAF and American soldiers during World War 2 and, more recently, an equestrian centre with world class facilities. There is evidence of the estates’ varied past throughout the grounds so keep an eye out if you ever visit. Necarne is the perfect spot for a stroll with your four legged friend as it is generally quiet and has plenty of well looked after paths to explore.
Top tip: Take the short climb to the horse jump at top of the hill opposite the castle for great views.
A Fermanagh favourite for bikers, boaters and walkers alike! Castle Archdale Country Park is a real treat for any walker, whether you are out for a casual stroll with the kids or looking for something a little longer to tire out an energetic dog. The park has a warren of paths that encompass everything from historic sites, wildflower meadows, miles of dense forestry and, let’s not forget, those spectacular lakeside views. If you’re feeling adventurous you could even take a dip in the lake…or just let your dog have a go instead! There is so much to explore here that it is a much-loved location to return to time and time again.
Top tip: Visit ‘Old Castle Archdale’ for a less busy route, especially on sunny summer weekends.
3. Belmore Forest
A lesser known walking area in Fermanagh, Belmore Forest is the perfect location for a quiet dog walk. The area has several paths to explore with one signposted route called the Pollnagollum Cave Walk. This particular route begins at the cave, is around 7 kilometres long and is all on forest track. Most of the walks within the forest reward you with stunning views over the surrounding areas after gentle climbs uphill. Belmore Forest is known to be a great location for wildlife and bird watching. You may even spot an Irish hare if you’re lucky. Even more lucky if your dog doesn’t!
Top tip: Make sure to adventure down to Pollnagollum Cave to get the best views of the waterfall flowing over the limestone cliff and into the cave.
Another relatively quiet Fermanagh walk is Topped Mountain (pronounced ‘Top-ed’). A fine example of sarcasm, Topped Mountain is in fact a small hill. This is great place to bring your dog for a short walk and even better if they are willing to pull you up the hill. After a short sharp climb, it won’t just be the exercise that is taking your breath away. Views from the top offer a 360 degree lookout over all of Fermanagh and, on a good day, you can even see as far as the Sperrin Mountains. Only a 10 minute drive from Enniskillen and Lisbellaw, Topped Mountain is the perfect place for quick evening walk or Sunday stroll all year round.
Top tip: Go for sunset and bring a picnic to eat at the top whilst soaking in the stunning views
5. Lough Bradan Forest
Slight disclaimer here…this is not in Fermanagh but is a hidden gem where we love to take the dog. Just across the border in Tyrone, Lough Bradan is a remote area surrounded by blanket bog, conifer forests and several wind farms. There are two options for walks in the area; the first of these is a circular 4 kilometre gravel track around Lough Bradan itself. This is short but relaxing lakeside stroll that is always peaceful. The other option is to adventure across the road from the lake and into the forestry. This offers a longer walking route that ventures past one of the local wind farms.
Top tip: If you have time, take the short journey to Sloughan Glen Waterfall. A short walk along the picturesque glen brings you past waterfalls to a secluded picnic spot.