The Beech Wood which forms an important back drop to the mansion is a tranquil walk through unspoilt nature. The wood was planted around 1709 with a mixed group of beech, oak and scots pine. The wood still has oak trees dating back to the early 18th Century and contains the oldest trees in the park.
Previous names for the Beech Wood Walk include the ‘Ladies Walk’ and the ‘Blue Bell Walk.’ The name Ladies Walk is believed to come from reports that it was a favourite walk of the daughters of the 4th Earl. The origins of the title Blue Bell Walk is evident in May when walkers will be captivated by the nation’s favourite wild flower, native blue bells, (Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta) which carpets the Beech Wood.
As part of the Beech Wood walk, walkers will pass the Ice House which dates back to 1794. It is made of brick and shaped like an inverted cone with a dome vaulted top. In frosty weather it would have been filled with ice from a nearby pond, the ice being broken into a coarse powder, rammed down and consolidated with water or salt water. Meat game, fish, poultry, dairy produce and fruit were stored in the body of the ice or the space above it. The ice was also used in the making of cold drinks and frozen puddings.
The top of the slopes on the walk provide splendid views in places east wards to Topped Mountain.
The 18th century mansion will also come into view. Designed by James Wyatt and completed in 1798 for the 1st Earl of Belmore. The interior was created by some of the leading craftsmen of the 18th and 19th century.
Distance:0.5 - 1.2 miles
Point of interest:Ice House, Castle Coole House
OS map:Sheet 18
Terrain:Surfaced Woodland Path
Route:Begin from the car park at Castle Coole. Head through the archway into the Grand Yard, passing the second-hand bookshop and into the Tunnel Yard.
Cross the yard and take the steps. Turn left at the top onto the Beech walk. Continue along the path, keeping to the left.
After a few hundred metres, a detour to the left will take you to the 18th century Ice House. Once you're finished there. return back up the hill and join the path once again.
Continue on the path through the trees until you reach a junction. At this point you can extend your walk onto the Gortgonnell path on the left and add another 30 minutes to your walk, or you can turn right to pass by the house and return to the yard to finish your walk.
If you've chosen to continue to the Gortgonnell path, you'll reach the main drive at Castle Coole. Turn right here to continue on round to the car-park, passing the south front of the house and the Pump House on the left.
* Please note that National Trust entrance pricing applies for this walk.
Facilities:Car park, tea rooms and toilets
Accessible toilet facilities:Yes
Accessible terrain:Surfaced woodland path
Publication:25 Walks in Fermanagh - cost £4.95.
Explore Northern Ireland 2014 (National Trust) (downloadable on this webpage).
Getting to the start by car:Castle Coole is located off the A4 road to Belfast 1.5 miles South East of Enniskillen. Parking is located beside the reception and tea room area.