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A Dander Around the Big Pond: a 3-day hike around Lough Neagh

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Causeway Coast

Banagher Glen and Altnaheglish Reservoir

16th November 2020 by Natalie Ferris Share

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Having checked the weather for the week ahead, I decided Friday was the best day to set out. With mid-morning rain forecast but then clear skies for the remainder of the day. I headed towards my destination, which is situated on the about 4 miles from Dungiven and arrived at the Banagher Glen car park with no problems. (Note there are two carparks and to continue after the first one.)

I had read great things about this hidden gem right on my doorstep and some of the pictures I saw really encouraged my trip. I started my walk and was pleasantly surprised at how enchanting the forest walk was. Boasting the title as one of Ireland’s oldest ancient oak woodland, it certainly delivers. It is well sign posted at this stage and you continue to excitedly approach the Dam, which is about 1.5 miles.

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It just sneaks up on you and in all its glory and manages to take your breath away. What an outstanding experience, you cannot help but stand in awe of the scenery before you, absolutely breath taking.

As you begin your journey around this unbelievably serene and calm reservoir you feel transported into a dream. Each turning corner a new visual delight. At this point I decided it was a good time and spot to stop and have a break with a well deserved cup of tea. Sitting peacefully, drinking in both the warm tea and the natural beauty before me it was so relaxing.

As you approach the end of the reservoir, the trail splits into two. Taking the right turn and almost going back on yourself to the opposite side of the reservoir, allowing you to appreciate the views from a new perspective. You start your rather long and straight ascent up the road track, thankfully at the end to be rewarded with another sensational view.

There is nothing in the way of signage so referring to your map is essential as there are a number of other tracks. Ultimately you end up on the other side of the reservoir and following another river down in the valley. In order to get to this, you do go back on yourself but it is well worth it to continue appreciating the views.

This time of year is obviously a treat but I have no doubt that this hike would impress in any season. You keep following the forest trail which was a delight as it’s a well worn path decorated with lots of great photography opportunities. You come to a gate and you end up back at the beautiful enchanted forest you started in.

The complete trail from the car park to the reservoir and up around through the forest was a total of 13.1km. The terrain was as expected, some slightly flooded sections around the reservoir due to heavy rain. Hiking boots and waterproofs are recommended.

I would rate this as a moderate hike and with a few enjoyable breaks it took 4.5 hours. It was a really wonderful walk that I will definitely do again. There is a sign at the car park that it closes at 9pm.

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