Lough Bradan to Gortin
This section boasts some of the most extensive views on the entire Ulster Way as it journeys from the westernmost reaches of County Tyrone into the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains. At 37 miles it will be too long for most walkers to contemplate tackling in a single day, but it can be broken down into several more manageable stages, each with its own individual character and scenery.
OS Map 12 & 13
Terrain Forest tracks, rural roads and waymarked open mountain
Nearest Town Lough Bradan
Route Shape Linear
Grid Reference H214717
Route Type Quality Section
The walk begins on the high sandstone plateau around Lough Bradan. This remote area is close to the border with County Donegal and is dominated by blanket bog and forestry. The first part of the route travels northeast through Lough Bradan Forest to the wind farm at Lough Lee. There is a short section across open moorland to cross Bolaght Mountain, an effort that is rewarded on a clear day by some of the most far-reaching views on the Ulster Way. The panorama stretches from the Bluestack Mountains of Donegal in the west, past the distant pyramid of Errigal in the northwest, to the dome of Slieve Snaght on the Inishowen peninsula in the north and the rounded summits of the high Sperrins to the northeast.
The route then descends into the Fairy Water Valley on narrow country roads. This area has an internationally important concentration of lowland raised bogs, and parts of it have been designated as an Area of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Area of Conservation and a Ramsar Site. You now climb up into the wooded southern reaches of the Baronscourt Estate, home of the Duke of Abercorn’s family since 1612. Keep an eye out for the estate’s wild herd of Japanese Sika deer, the management of which has been recognised with a Laurent Perrier Award for wild game conservation. Forest tracks take you up through the trees towards the summit of Bessy Bell, where more tremendous views can be enjoyed before you descend deep into the next valley and cross the Strule River.
More country roads lead through the townland of Carrigans, where the wet mineral soils have given rise to woodland of birch, mountain ash and alder. Then, in Tattynure almost pure birch woodland can be seen growing on cut-over bog. The climbing begins in earnest again as you clamber across the western slopes of Mullaghcarn, a sprawling outlier of the main Sperrins range. Much of this travel is on the tracks of Gortin Glen Forest Park, taking you eventually to the ancient glacial breach of Gortin Gap and past Boorin National Nature Reserve to the finish in Gortin village.
Please be aware that this walking route passes through areas of open land such as hillside, working farmland and working forests. Livestock may be present, ground conditions may be uneven or wet underfoot and all forestry signage should be adhered to. Please refer to the ‘Walk Safely and Responsibly’ information in the Useful Info tab above.
Lough Bradan, Bolaght Mountain, Bessy Bell, Gortin
Not directly on route – Pettigo, Ederney, Ulster American Folk Park
The start at Lough Bradan is best accessed along the B72 to the north of the village of Ederney. There is however no official car parking – please park your car with respect to other road users and landowners.
It is unfortunately not possible to access the start of this Quality Section by public transport. Ederney is the closest village to the start of the walk served by bus; it is a further 5 mile walk north along the B72 to the start of the walk. Ederney is served by buses from Enniskillen and Pettigo.
For timetable information please consult Translink website http://www.translink.co.uk
Refreshments are available at the finish of the route in Gortin. However this is a long route with no refreshment stops along the way – walkers should carry provisions accordingly.
Kesh offers the widest range of accommodation near the start of this section.
There is also no accommodation along this section of the route so walkers should arrange collection for accommodation off-route in Drumquin or Omagh.
There is a hostel at the finsih of the section in Gortin with a campsite 3 miles to south on B48.