Big Dog Forest is located between the villages of Garrison and Derrygonnelly in County Fermanagh and Kiltycloghter in County Leitrim, and it’s remote location and natural beauty make it a popular walking spot for tourists and locals alike.
Big Dog Walk is a Geopark Forest Walk, and the forest gets its name from the larger of two hills, Big Dog and Little Dog that feature in its skyline.
Legend has it that these hills are named after Bran and Skeola, two wolfhounds that were owned by the mythical figure Finn McCool. The story goes that one day while out hunting they gave chase to a witch who turned them into stone. We now know that the two hills are made up of hard sandstone.
Myself and my husband Ronan enjoyed going for this walk on a Sunday morning in Autumn, and although remote, the views from the top of Little Dog were more than worth the effort to get there.
We drove from Belleek village through Garrison and took the turn for Big Dog Forest at Cashel onto the Knockmore Road, the forest walk is about a 10-minute drive from the Cashel turn on narrow, windy roads, and you will find the car park signposted on the left-hand side of the road (54.3935442,-7.9379469).
As you start on the big dog walk, you will pass through a Sitka spruce conifer plantation, and you will see the Big Dog and Little Dog hills to your left. Once past the harvested trees, there is a signposted path you can follow up to the top of Little Dog, and the panoramic views are well worth the short climb.
West: Donegal Bay
North: Lough Meenagleragh
South: Big Dog
East: Lough Doo & Lough Nabrickboy
From the top of Little Dog hill, you can see Donegal Bay to the west, Meenagleragh Lough to the north, Big Dog hill to the south and Lough Nabrickboy and Lough Doo to the east just below you.
After descending from Little Dog hill we crossed the causeway that splits Lough Nabrickboy in two. You can stop here and enjoy the views of the lakes with a picnic on one of the tables or benches available before circling back to Nabrickaboy Lough, on the shore of Lough Doo.
We decided that instead of circling back through Lough Doo and going back to the car park, we’d explore a little further along the main gravel path which went up a hill and wound around to the left, eventually, this led us to turn into a lovely green forest trail on the right-hand side of the path.
We were able to walk along this forest path for quite a while before ending up on the Doagh road, and at this stage, we decided to head back to the car.
The weather was great for our walk, and we enjoyed our morning out in Big Dog Forest, we are looking forward to exploring more trails in this area of Fermanagh soon.
For more information: https://cuilcaghlakelands.org/geosite/big-dog-forest