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.
Point of interest:Ice House, Castle Coole House
OS map:Sheet 18
Terrain:Surfaced Woodland Path
Route:The walk starts from the car park located beside the Reception & Tea Room. Adjacent to the car park are the Grand Yard and Laundry Yard, visitors can imagine the hive of activity in this area in former times. Also from the car park visitors will see the entrance to the Servant’s Tunnel which connected the out houses to the Servant’s Quarter’s in the basement of the House. The Grand Yard was occupied by US officers during the Second World War.
From the car park take the steps. At the top of the steps the Beech Wood Walk is signposted to the left. The path takes a circular route through the early 18th Century woodland, with Beech, Oak and scots pine overhead. After walking for approximately 350 metres a footpath to the left leads a short distance to the Ice House which dates back to 1794. Retrace your steps back to the main Beech Wood path way. Continue on the pathway for approximately 150 metres at this point the walker can turn left or right, to continue on the Beech Wood Walk turn right. For any walkers feeling energetic taking a left turn at this junction leads to the Gortgonnelll Walk which, will take a further 30 minutes to complete.
Approximately 50 metres further along the Beech Wood Walk the front of the mansion will come into view. The path will continue on and finish at the starting point at the top of the steps which lead back to the car park.
* Please note that National Trust entrance pricing applies for this walk. Please see the link below for details *
Facilities:Car park, tea rooms and toilets
Accessible toilet facilities:Yes
Accessible terrain:Surfaced woodland path
Publication:25 Walks in Fermanagh. You can pick up a copy of this at Fermanagh TIC 028 66 323110
Getting to the start by public transport: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.