Slieve Beagh: Crocknagrally Forest Loop (and Detours)

Seeing as our current lockdown restrictions don’t include travel limits for exercise, I took a spin down to the Slieve Beagh area last Sunday for a change of scene and a longer walk than my usual, local routes.

I’ve walked in this quiet area for many years, including approaching the highest ground from all three of the surrounding counties. This time, with tighter travel restrictions in the Republic, I didn’t venture into County Monaghan but stayed on the Tyrone and Fermanagh sides.

Top image: Crockacleaven Lough in the late afternoon sun

 

My route was a somewhat improvised adaptation of the waymarked loop around Crocknagrally Forest, starting from a parking area just to the west of the well known Cooneen Ghost House (which isn’t so ominous looking ever since the surrounding trees were removed). I added several detours which were a mix of accidental and planned, disappointing and delightful, and which combined to make a good-length walk for a sunny, late autumn day.

 

Crocknagrally Forest
A typical scene from the forest loop, taken early into my walk 

 

Colebrooke River Fermanagh Tyrone
The loop crosses and then briefly runs alongside the Colebrooke River which for a short distance here forms the boundary between Fermanagh (left) and Tyrone (right)  

 


A very tall tree, which I believe is lodgepole pine

 

Waymarker, Crocknagrally Forest
A marker post on the forest loop (I later found out that the acronym stands for Clones Erne East Blackwater Rural Regeneration Project)

 

Crocknagrally Forest Fermanagh Tyrone
Some lovely late morning light streaming through

 

A view across to the broad summit area of Slieve Beagh

 

My longest detour involved crossing the Alderwood Road and following a dead-end forest track up to a fine viewpoint just above a narrow river valley. There’s a footbridge here giving access to the lower slopes of Brown Hill to the north and I’d like to come back and walk this route.

 

Slieve Beagh, County Tyrone
Looking north across the Clogher Valley from near the top of the dead-end track, with the windfarm between Fivemiletown and Fintona on the ridge beyond

 

Zoomed in view towards Fivemiletown with Brougher Mountain (with the masts) beyond

 

Slieve Beagh, County Tyrone
The river and weir taken from the footbridge

 

Cuilcagh from Slieve Beagh
Looking southwest towards the always recognisable profile of Cuilcagh on the border of Fermanagh and Cavan

 

With the sun and my phone battery dropping, I headed back down and into Crocknagrally Forest again to rejoin the looped route. I missed a turn-off initially then took the wrong one which brought an unexpected but worthwhile detour: a glimpse of water through the trees before then Crockacleaven Lough emerged in full. It was the perfect time of the day to stumble on it, the late afternoon sun just above the treeline on the far shore.

After an unsuccessful attempt at taking shortcut along the edge of the lough, I retraced my steps with now-water-logged boots to find the turn-off I’d missed. From where it was just a couple of miles back to my start point.

 

Crocknagrally Forest, Slieve Beagh Fermanagh Tyrone
The last burst of colour taken near the end of my route


Total distance (including planned and unplanned detours):
18km / 11 miles (the waymarked loop is only 4.2 miles according to Walk NI)
Map: OSNI 18 or OSNI 28A
More info: Crocknagrally Forest listing on WalkNI

Also see my earlier posts on walking in the Slieve Beagh area:
Slieve Beagh: Umpteenth Visit |
Slieve Beagh: Three Counties and Countless Frogs

4 thoughts on “Slieve Beagh: Crocknagrally Forest Loop (and Detours)

  1. This looks like a great walk. I’ll have to wait until next year though as my back is playing up again and can’t see any help until the C-virus is defeated.

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    1. Definitely one to check out when you’re able to. I walked the Palace Demesne in Armagh today, much bigger park than I thought and quite scenic. Sorry to hear you’re not getting any relief with your back, Covid has a lot to answer for sadly.

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