by Heather Duke
Photo by Heather Duke
In this pandemic a lot of life was put on hold.
You might not be able to do the things you used to do to find meaning. Which is why when the lockdown ends getting out into nature is an ideal activity to reset our minds, relieve stress, gain a sense of achievement and release some of those good old endorphins.
My recommendation is to hit the boards at the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail in Co. Fermanagh. The trail has been nicknamed the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and it is easy to understand why; the route winds through one of the largest expanses of blanket bog in the country before ascending the mountainside up into the clouds. Walkers of this trail take in vivid colours, babbling brooks and gushing waterfalls while traversing over the board walk and up the stairs to the viewing platform. When adventurers reach the bottom of the stairs they can check out Lough Atona; a lake which was carved out by a glacier at the base of the mountain in our last ice age 13,000 years ago.
I think this trail will be a great one to rediscover our inner adventurers. You begin at the carpark at Legnabrocky (1km from the road entrance to the Marble Arch Caves) and follow this 5.8km limestone gravel track before you hit the timber boardwalk. The boardwalk itself is 1.6km long and features 450 steps.
All together the walking distance is a 14.8km round trip with a decent climb and on average it takes 6 hours to reach the summit and return to your car. The climb may be steep and the walk may be on the longer side, but it is definitely worth it, the view at the top is the ultimate reward. Up on top the intrepid hikers sit together in a companionable silence, smiling and looking out at the blanket of colours, admiring the yellow ochre, purple, deep greens and dark browns of the bog lands.
When my mam and I took on the challenge we spent twenty minutes or so on the summit catching our breath while we nestled our tired backsides among the soft moss, resting our feet, eagerly gulping our water and taking it all in.
Always be prepared for the outdoors. Mountain weather conditions can change very quickly. Ensure you have suitable footwear, clothing, access to a map, bring water and pack snacks.
Mobile phone reception in the area is poor.