Our weekly trek of Ulster’s best walks continues with a jaunt to Fermanagh and then a leisurely stroll on 5.6-mile, circular Red Trail at Florence Court Forest Park.
Starting from the visitor centre, take the bridge and turn left. Follow the trail and bear right, passing the Lady’s Well on your right.
Take a minute to visit the Florence Court yew tree ahead of you before returning and taking the red trail to the left, crossing a wide bridge. Follow the Claddagh River upstream along the Riverside Walk, crossing part-way at a small footbridge. The Florence Court yew, taxus baccata ‘fastigiata’, is reported to be the “mother” of all Irish yew trees. It was one of a pair discovered on Cuilcagh Mountain in 1740 by local farmer George Willis. He presented one to William Cole, First Earl of Enniskillen, to be planted on the estate. This specific type of yew can only be propagated by cutting and has had hundreds over the years, which gives it a very distinguished appearance.
Follow the path to the right and after about 200m take a left turn, facing the steepest climb on the red trail. At the top of the winding climb you’ll reach the viewpoint. You can choose to extend your walk onto the Ulster or Cuilcagh way from this point, or turn right and continue to follow the red trail past the Kennel Field.
From the top of the viewpoint on a clear day you should be able to see across much of Fermanagh, including Upper Lough McNean, Belomore mountain, Enniskillen town, Brougher Mountain, parts of Upper Lough Erne and Knockninny.
Finishing your descent and crossing the Eel house bridge, you are now back onto the main estate. To finish your walk early, continue straight on past the Sawmill to pass the rear of the house. To continue on, take a left after the bridge to walk a partial loop around the Killymanamly path, which will bring you to the top of the path to the Walled Garden. Take this path to your left to finish the trail and return to the visitor centre.
Your descent from the Red Trail will pass the historic deer park on the right-hand side. You might be able to catch a glimpse of the ha-ha wall that still stands. What is a ha-ha wall? The sunken ditch, or ha-ha — named for the surprise a person got on suddenly coming across it — has one sloping side and a stone- or brick-faced wall; in a more basic construction, allowing an uninterrupted view from the garden while not sacrificing security, particularly against roving livestock.
Visit WalkNI.com for more information on this walk and over 270 other quality walks across Northern Ireland including route descriptions, maps, transport and facility information.
Please remember to practice the principles of ’Leave No Trace’ when enjoying the outdoors in order to minimise your impact on the environment.
For more information, visit www.leavenotraceireland.org
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