Discovering Ireland: County Cavan Outdoor Adventures

Killykeen Forest Park

Updated On: May 04, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

At ConnollyCove, we want to inform travellers about the fantastic things to do in our little Emerald Isle. For hikers and nature lovers, look no further. Regarding County Cavan’s Countryside, we have got you covered! Here, we have everything you need to know about County Cavans, Northern Ireland, and places to hike.

Each park offers everything travellers crave, from architecture to forests, fish to fairies. Anything you can dream of discovering in the Cavan countryside will be found in one of these many spectacular parks. We recommend Cavan Burren Park, Dún na Rí Forest Park, Killykeen Forest Park, Canal Walk, Castle Lake Walk, Deerpark Forest, Erica’s Fairy Forest, and Mullagh Hill. 

Cavan Burren Park: Finest Prehistoric Landscapes

Caven Burren Park contains over ten kilometres of trails, the finest prehistoric landscapes in Ireland, and views you will not want to miss! Caven Burren Park opened in May 2014 and has been a worldwide top stop for nature lovers. The park is approximately 340 million years old and dates back to the Carboniferous period when tropical seas covered the whole area. You will find this area of myth and beauty on the slopes of Cuilcagh Mountain, up the N16 Sligo Road from Black Lion, and follow the sign ‘Cavan Burren Park’. 

County Cavan is packed with nature landscapes, cliff, ocean
County Cavan is packed with natural landscapes, cliffs, ocean

You will find the fantastic Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark at this park. I’m sure you are wondering what a geopark is. A geopark is an area viewed by the United National Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as having an amazing geographical heritage, outstanding natural landscape, and showing culture, wildlife, and history. 

Cavan Burren Park contains mythical stories, monuments, tombs, and more. The mythical tale surrounding Cavan Burren Park tells us the story of two young giants, Lugh and Lag. These two young giants were competitive both in love and in life. To try and win the affection of the female giant they both loved, they challenged each other to jump a gorge to see who would take her hand. Lag did not survive and fell to death, which is how Giant’s Leap Chasm got its name. 

Still not convinced this place is for you? Here are the 4 top marked trails for you to try on your visit: (take a look at this map to understand each trail)

  1. The Calf House Dolmen Trail—This multi-access trail will take you across the Tullygobbin Wedge Tomb, the Tullygobbin and Lost Valley viewpoints, the Calf-House Dolmen tomb, and much more. It promises 360-degree views across the landscape, ensuring you won’t miss anything! This trail is the shortest, taking approximately 35 minutes to complete and only a 25-meter climb.
  2. The Giant’s Leap Trail is 2.7 kilometres long and shows where the young giant Lag met his death. It also includes the Giant’s Leap Wedge Tomb, the Limelikn, and Lost Valley, as well as outstanding scenery. This trail will take approximately 50 minutes to complete and has only a 35-meter climb.
  3. The Promontory Fort Trail—This 2.9-kilometer trail will guide you across the Lost Valley, the bog bridge, Promontory Fort, Sinkholes, Relict farm walls, and glacial erratics. Choosing this trail means seeing and understanding the area’s rich history. It will take approximately one hour to complete and is a little more difficult due to a 65-meter climb. 
  4. The Tullygobbin Lough Trail is 1.6 kilometres long and will give you a fantastic experience of the biodiverse Lough and the surrounding landscape. It will take approximately 45 minutes to complete; therefore, it is not too strenuous for your first adventure in Caven Burren Park. Following this trail, you will see the fantastic Desiccated Sandstone and the Glacial Erratics. 

Now, if walking isn’t your thing… this park also offers the opportunity to cycle, fish, canoe, cruise, and even cave in the limestone centres of the earth.

Dún na Rí Forest Park

Dún na Rí Forest Park lies on County Cavan and Monaghan’s border. While exploring this forest park in County Cavan, you will see many amazing animals, including stoat, hare, mink, rabbit, and otter.  This area is a 565-acre beauty that will not disappoint. 

What will you find in this fantastic forest park? You will be delighted to see the Cabra Estate, which the Pratt family owned, the dramatic gorge, and the Cabra River. This is an area of folklore within County Cavan, as it is said that Cuchulain camped at this forest park at night when he was defending Ulster against the forces of Maeve. 

There are four beautiful walks you can choose to take here. Each is approximately 1.5 to 2 kilometres long and promises to amaze you! On your adventures, you will find some hidden treasures, including the Ice House, Toba na Splinne Holy Well, Cromwell’s Bridge, and Fleming’s Castle’s ruins, initially built in 1801. 

Cabra Cottage

Cabra Cottage was originally the home of the Pratt family before they resided in Cabra Castle in 1814. Following this, the cottage was used as a shooting lodge. However, in 1955, a fire destroyed a lot of the building. This little historical treasure is deep in the Dún na Rí Forest Park.

Cabra Village

You will find a forest path surrounded by trees between Cromwell’s Bridge and Cabra Cottage. However, before 1760, a village had a flax and corn industry. This village was gradually removed, and the materials were used for other buildings

Cromwell’s bridge

Cromwell’s bridge at Dún na Rí Forest Park was built during the 12th-century Norman invasion. It is believed that the Cromwells crossed this bridge to attack the O’Reilly Castle at Muff. From this bridge, you will see views of the river and trees, a fantastic place to be one with nature. 

Fleming’s Castle

Fleming’s Castle was built in 1607 by Gerald Fleming above a deep gorge. Before Gerald Fleming built this castle, Hugh de Lacy, the great Norman builder of castles, built a previous castle at the Cabra.

Ice House

Before electricity and refrigerators, people created Ice Houses to store ice for use throughout the summer months. This stone-lined pit, shaded from direct sunlight, was built around the 16th Century and used by the inhabitants of Cabra Cottage.

Old Military Barracks

This ruin should be at the top of your list of things to see at Dún na Rí Forest Park. It is between the carpark and Fleming’s castle. The Pratt family built these ruins, which Colonel Joseph Pratt used as barracks in the 1800s.

Sarah’s Well

The Pratt family used this well as their water source due to its coldness and purity. Although there was a water supply on the land, they always sourced their water from this well. 

Wishing Well

It is unknown how this Well came to be, but it has been used for centuries. It is assumed to have been a Holy Well. Holy wells are said to have been made to flow by the magic of a Saint. Due to this, it is possible that this Well was used for healing throughout the past. The old Irish name for this well was Tobar na Splinne—the well of the cliff or ledge.  

Killykeen Forest Park

Killykeen Forest Park is arguably the most scenic area within County Cavan, roughly five miles outside Cavan Town. These 600 acres of beauty will not disappoint travellers looking for fantastic scenery in the Cavan countryside. This forest park lies on the shore of Lough Oughter and is part of the River Erne waterway. You will enjoy the fantastic views of the lake and waterways by following any of the many signposted walks along the shore and through the woods. 

Gartnanoul Court Tomb: An Ancient Tomb in County Cavan

Only the ruins remain from this 5000-year-old court tomb, full of magical history. These court tombs were usually flat-roofed buildings used as graves and surrounded by a small courtyard. It is said that they were used as graves for essential members of society. However, the ones in Killykeen Forest Park are unusual as they are roughly 12 meters apart compared to the usual ones, which usually share a large stone at the rear of the structure. When visiting this forest park, you should explore these ancient ruins. 

Lough Oughter

Lough Oughter is the pride and joy of Killykeen Forest Park. This lough promises outstanding scenic views while you enjoy hiking the forest trails. Lough Oughter is also popular for fishermen looking for pike, bream, and perch. Many wild animals, such as waterfowls, mallards, tufted ducks, wigeons, and pochards, can be spotted here. 

Oughter Castle

The number one spot in Killykeen Forest Park is the Romantic period Oughter Castle, which stands on an island on the lake. This is a place of stunning beauty and architecture. This ruin dates back to the 1200s, and it was initially built by the O’Reilly clan, who resided here for over 300 years. This building was their home and also their fort against their enemies. This castle was taken by the English clan in the 17th Century by Captain Hugh Culme and was taken back by the Irish during a rebellion in 1641. This castle has been a ruin since 1653, when Cromwell raided it

You can visit this castle ruin by hiring a boat.

Canal Walk

The canal loop walk is located in Ballyconnell, County Cavan. It is one of the most relaxing and scenic routes in the County. This loop will take you past paths, woodland, and sandy roads. It will allow you to overlook the Woodford River and the Annagh Lough Woods. Throughout, you will discover many wildlife species. 

It is a short two-hour path that is six kilometres long and starts at the Ballyconnell Bridge car park. What makes this path even better is that it is canine-friendly! So you can bring your furry best friend along. Ballyconnell is also renowned for its fishing locations, golf courses, and sites of archaeological interest. You will find the Ballyhugh promontory fort, Killycluggin, and the Killycluggin Stone. This stone dates back to the Iron Age, however here now sits a replica while the original is on display at the Irish National Museum. 

The entire route is split into four parts to help you find your way; you can follow it like so:

A – B

This route begins at the entrance to the car park. From here, you simply follow the arrows through the park and onto the stunning bank of the Woodford River. The fantastic journey begins here. After 100 meters, you will find a metal footbridge that marks the beginning of the Canal Loop Walk. You will end the loop at this metal gate. 

B – C

Following the riverbank, you continue for one kilometre before entering the green Annagh Lough Wood. 

C – D

You will walk through these stunning woods for two kilometres and then come across the sandy road which takes you past a farm. The loop takes a sudden turn right through a metal gate.

D – A

Follow the final lane down a hill for 100 meters to reach another metal gate. You will then return to your starting location. 

Castle Lake Walk

You will find the Castle Lake walk at Bailieborough in County Cavan. Bailieborough translates to Coill a Chollaigh in Irish, meaning forest of the boar. Luckily, you will not find any boars here in this town. This walk is also a loop shape and will take you through spectacular lake and countryside views. The path is all forest trails with gentle climbing, so wear appropriate footwear! This loop is shorter than the Canal Walk Loop, it is three kilometers long and will take approximately 90 minutes to complete.

This beautiful lake and forest walk begins at the lake carpark and will take you past many interesting sites. These historical sites include a memorial to those who died at Rabel Hill in 1798, the graves of the Marist brothers who occupied Bailieborough Castle, and the remains of Bailieborough Castle. This castle was initially built around 1630 by William Bailie and was demolished in the 1940s.

This three-kilometre route is split into three parts to help guide you around the loop. The map is here to help you understand the route.

A – B

Starting at the carpark at Castle Lake, you will follow the blue arrows along a forest path on the lake’s southern end. Here, you will take in stunning views of the lake, guaranteeing a relaxing beginning to your journey. This continues for one kilometre.

B – C

Following this, a gentle climb offers stunning views of Castle Lake and the countryside. Descending again, you will see a wooden footbridge that crosses the river, offering fantastic views above the river.

C- A

Soon after crossing the footbridge, you only have 600 meters until you are back at the beginning of this stunning trail.

You can explore this stunning forest on a variety of other routes. This trail can be altered to make a five—to six-kilometre loop.

Deerpark Forest Walk

Deerpark Forest Walk is found outside Virginia in County Cavan. This route is lined beautifully with trees and passes the Virginia Golf Club and Lough Ramor. A large proportion of this forest is managed for biodiversity. This forest also offers three designated family-friendly routes for all to enjoy.

The first route is approximately one kilometre and shows stunning river scenery. The second trail is the Golden Heritage Trail, approximately two kilometres long. The Golden Heritage Trail will show you some fantastic sites, such as Toberpatrick Well, Lady’s Cottage, Castle Boathouse, and the metal and stone bridges. The third, perfect for older kids, is the Lough Lamir loop, which is approximately four kilometres long and takes you past the river and shores of the lough.

Erica’s Fairy Forest | Do you believe in Fairies?

Erica’s fairy forest is dedicated to Erica Ní Draighneain, who died in 2016. Her parents built this forest in her memory, featuring many magical stories from fairytales she loved. This fantastic forest can be found at Fairgreen in County Cavan.

If you don’t believe in magic or fairytales, you will leave without any doubt after visiting this stunning place. It is an enchanting place filled with stories and magic. It is the perfect place to wind down and pretend to be a child again with a big imagination, and it is also ideal for bringing kids to enhance their creativity and fairytale beliefs. This enchanted woodland walk will surely bring smiles and tears from those who visit.

There are always events and changes being made to this enchanted little place, therefore keep up to date with it via Erica’s Fairy Forest Facebook page. If you are in County Cavan, you should make visiting this enchanted forest of beauty and mystery your top priority.

Mullagh Hill

Mullagh Hill rises 684 feet above its stunning lake. This location is perfect for outdoorsy people who want to climb and view fantastic scenery. At the top of this hill, you will discover a burial mound. It is thought that the mountain and district called Mullach Laoighill got its name from a chief who was buried here. This grave was supposedly discovered when there was a search for treasure; however, it was never found who opened this grave.

The walk up this hill is approximately two kilometres long and takes 30 minutes to climb. Starting at the carpark beside Mullagh Lake and following the path, you are guaranteed to be stunned by the beauty, panoramic views, and gentle landscapes of County Cavan and Monaghan.

Mullagh is most famous for its association with Saint Killian, who was born there in 640 AD and later martyred in Bavaria in 689 AD. He was born into a noble family and educated in County Cork and County Kerry. He became the Patron Saint of Tourism, later travelled to Rome to meet the Pope, and finally settled in a German town called Wurzberg.

Mullagh Hill is, therefore, a stunning place filled with history and serenity. It is a short but steep walk with a fantastic view, which is worth the hard work.

Have you ever visited County Cavan? Have you ever visited these outdoor places of outstanding beauty and interest?

Let us know in the comments below!

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