Gortmaconnell Rock sits in the centre of the Marlbank karst region, an area of limestone with characteristic weathering both above and below ground. It is from here that the limestone extends like a rock shoulder across a three kilometre wide strip to the foot of the steep, wooded escarpment in the MacNean Valley. Limestone pavement is the hall-mark of the area, sometimes exposed, occasionally barely concealed by a thin layer of soil and often buried by glacial debris known as till or boulder clay. Knoll-shaped hills rise out of the green meadows, rushy hollows and hazel copses with their craggy white slopes stark in the sunlight. These hills, which started life as limey mud banks on the floor of an ancient tropical sea, now give the countryside its picturesque appearance and support luscious plants which attract a varied range of birds, insects and mammals to the area. If you are extra lucky, you may glimpse the elusive Irish hare. Larger than rabbits, adult hares have black tips on their ears and their longer back legs give them a distinctive walk or ‘lope’. This rare mammal is native to Ireland and is arguably our oldest surviving mammal.
The summit of Gortmaconnell Rock can be reached by a short but rewarding climb contouring around the hill. The viewpoint offers wonderful 360 degree panoramic views of Cuilcagh Mountain, MacNean Valley and the Erne Lowlands. From here you can also see the Owenbrean River, which flows down from Cuilcagh Mountain before sinking underground, eventually reaching the Marble Arch Caves system.
How To Get There
This walk is located on the Marlbank Road just 700 metres from the main entrance to the Marble Arch Caves. At the entrance is a sign saying Gortmaconnell. Park at the entrance way to the Gortmaconnell Viewpoint. Cross the stile and follow the rough farm, the route is waymarked and there is an interpretation panel at the stile at the start of the walk.
Did You Know?
Gortmaconnell Rock is in the townland of Gortmaconnell which lies on the northern flanks of Cuilcagh Mountain. The path meanders through a working farm where sheep graze the land and you may be lucky to glimpse sight of the horses and feral goats that forage in the area.
Dogs are not permitted as the area is a working farm and a European Designated Special Area of Conservation.More local attractions