Fermanagh’s Stairway To Heaven

Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk in County Fermanagh.

Since it was built in 2015, this popular hike which has featured on many travel Bucket Lists.

People call it “Ireland’s Stairway to Heaven”.

This is where I spent the Saint Patrick’s bank holiday Monday.View over Lough Atona from near the top of the boardwalk on Cuilcagh mountain

But How Do You Pronounce Cuilcagh:

First things first, here’s how you pronounce Cuilcagh Mountain: You simply say Quil-kah or Kul-Kah. You will also sometimes hear locals refer to it as Kul-kee Mountain, but most people use the former two pronunciations.

No matter how you say it – It Is Fabulous!

People walking on the Cuilcagh Mountian Boardwalk

Fabulous in a “You can see for miles and miles and not a scrap of concrete in sight” kinda way.

And never underestimate the fabulous-ness of walking through an Irish bog with dry feet!

Lough Atona, the glacial lake on Cuilcagh Mountain

That little lake at the base of the cliff is called Lough Atona. It is a 13,000 year old glacial lake

Fairy Tree with Cuilcagh Mountain in the background

Fairy Tree with Cuilcagh Mountain in the background

From the outside Cuilcagh is rather shy. From the road side, she doesn’t command your attention like other mountains. It takes effort to get to know the restrained,  flat topped Cuilcagh. A little way along the gravel path you begin to experience the landscape hug. From there on in, she reveals the true extent of her energy and drama – and all your troubles melt away.

Looking down the steps of the Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk and across the expanse of bog and Donegal in the distance

You can see for miles all across Fermanagh and Donegal. Just looking at the soft, muted colours of the bog is calming (even if your legs are aching).

Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk, waymarker, bench and sheep. Fine art print by Michelle Duffy

This fine art print by Michelle Duffy captures the natural serenity of Cuilcagh.

Snow at the top of Cuilcagh Mountain

It was so, so, so cold at the top! I was glad I had crammed my big coat into my backpack.

Selfie with Lough Atona and Cuilcagh boardwalk in the background

The obligatory selfie at the furthest point.

I brought my headphones specifically for some motivation going up all 450 steps (Which had the added bonus of keeping my ears warm). I’m convinced this instrumental version of Run Boy Run got me to the top in half the time. The dramatic music just somehow goes with the scenery and atmosphere on Cuilcagh.

Fun facts and useful information

  • Cuilcagh in Irish is Cuilceach
  • It is part of the Marble Arch Caves Geopark which was one of the first UNESCO Global Geoparks in Europe
  • There are two hiking trails on the mountain. The “Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail” is the one featuring the boardwalk
  • Although the boardwalk is in County Fermanagh, part of Cuilcagh mountain also lies in County Cavan
  • Further information and safety advice is available on the Fermanagh Lakelands Wesbite
  • The nearest villages are the twin villages of Blacklion in County Cavan and Belcoo in County Fermanagh
  • There are no toilet facilities or coffee carts. Be warned! The nearest facilities are at the Marble Arch Caves
  • The very top of the mountain is closed for the time being for reasons of habitat preservation. That doesn’t mean you still can’t have an enjoyable walk with plenty of photo ops. See Walkni.com for further details

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