Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail

Difficulty
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Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
3.5-4.5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
9.2 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
612 m
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Directions to Trailhead
Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail

Walking the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail is truly an amazing experience that you won't be able to find anywhere else in the world. While out on the trail, you will traverse a wooden boardwalk that spans a peatland bog before climbing the scenic slopes of Cuilcagh for breathtaking views over a UNESCO-designated Global Geopark. You won’t want to forget your camera for this one!

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Route Description for Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail

Over the years, the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail has become a very popular route for tourists and outdoor enthusiasts alike; however, this has led to government officials putting measures in place to protect the landscape here. As such, you will need to book your parking in advance at a cost of £6 per three hour time slot in order to access the trail by car. Additionally, this route features some steep terrain along a series of stairs that will be unsuitable for young children or less-mobile walkers.

Even with the high volume of visitors that will inevitably be found here, the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail is an absolutely stunning walk that will expose you to some of the most scenic views in all of Northern Ireland. Featuring a vast expanse of peatland bog and a rugged mountain peak that straddles the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, this route truly has an almost magical feel to it. While the final portion of the walk up the “Stairway to Heaven” might be a bit challenging, the views from the top are absolutely worthwhile - as is evident from the countless Instagram photos taken here every year!

Setting out from the car park, you will head to the southwest and cross over the Aghinrawn River, following the gravel path as it cuts across the vast swathes of peatland bog before you. In the spring, the landscape here is blanketed by a sea of white bog cotton, while the summer and autumn will see the purple and red hues of the moor grass take over, only interrupted by the abandoned stone cottages of the people that once inhabited the land here.

After 2.8 km along this trail, you will branch off to the right on a wooden boardwalk that has been installed to protect the precious peat bog underneath from the effects of visitors to the area. This part of the route will mark the beginning of the ascent of Cuilcagh Mountain, leading you gradually uphill until you reach the steep part of the route known as the Stairway to Heaven.

Once you have pushed your way up the steps here, you will arrive at a viewpoint atop Cuilcagh Mountain that offers absolutely breathtaking views over Northern Ireland, as well as the Republic of Ireland to the south. After you have taken in the views, simply head back along the same route to return to the car park, having completed the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail.

Trail Highlights

Cuilcagh Mountain

Located along the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Cuilcagh is the 170th highest peak on the island at 665 m tall. Water from the peak flows south underground towards Shannon Pot, the source of the nearby Shannon River.

The mountain park was combined with several other popular sites in the area, such as the Marble Arch Caves and Cladagh Glen, to become a UNESCO-designated European Geopark in 2001. A 12.1 km long wooden boardwalk leading to the summit (known as The Stairway to Heaven) was installed to protect the precious bog underneath from the stress of tourism.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to walk the Cuilcagh Boardwalk?

It takes approximately 3 hours to walk the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail.

Should I book Cuilcagh Boardwalk in advance?

As part of efforts to limit excessive visitor numbers and irresponsible parking, visitors will need to book a parking space for their visit. The Cost is £6 per three hour time slot.

Insider Hints for Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail

  • Book your parking space in advance to avoid being turned away at the car park.
  • Make sure to bring a rain/wind-resistant jacket to combat inclement weather.
  • Proper walking boots are recommended.
  • Dogs are not allowed on this walk.

Getting to the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail Trailhead

To reach the trailhead for the Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail from the Marble Arch Caves car park, head southwest for 0.6 km and turn right onto Marlbank Road, continuing on for 0.3 km. Make a left here and follow the road for 1.1 km to arrive at the car park.

Route Information

  • Backcountry Campground

    No

  • When to do

    Year-Round

  • Pets allowed

    No

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    High

  • Route Type

    Out and back

Cuilcagh Boardwalk Trail Elevation Graph

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