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An Creagan Forest and River Trail

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An Creagan Forest and River Trail
Author: WalkNI, Published: 28 Jan 2017 Walk Rating:star0 An Creagan Forest and River Trail Walking Guide star0 An Creagan Forest and River Trail Walking Guide star0 An Creagan Forest and River Trail Walking Guide star0 An Creagan Forest and River Trail Walking Guide star0 An Creagan Forest and River Trail Walking Guide
Tyrone, Omagh
Walk Type: Woodland
An Creagan Forest and River Trail
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot An Creagan Forest and River Trail Walking Guide boot An Creagan Forest and River Trail Walking Guide boot An Creagan Forest and River Trail Walking Guide
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0004_black_low_cloud An Creagan Forest and River Trail Walking Guide Today's weather
14 °C, Overcast, Wind: 7 mph W
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A 3.5 mile trail around An Creagán, County Tyrone, taking in the forest and Glassagh Burn, a safe and friendly place to enjoy your daily exercise and de-stress in a uniquely tranquil and picturesque environment. An Creagán is a superb site with a range of facilities and activities for families, couples, individuals and groups. Located between the historic town of Omagh and the market town of Cookstown at the foothills of the majestic Sperrin Mountains.

The walk is relatively flat, with just some gentle slopes. The route follows a mixture of different terrain including gravel paths, boardwalks, forests paths and grass tracks (which can be very muddy in winter). There are no stiles or gates on route. Allow 2 hours.

The facilities at the centre include a picnic area by the community garden, BBQ, cafe, exhibition area and toilets.

The An Creagán centre is situated between Omagh and Cookstown. If you are travelling from Omagh take the A505 road for Cookstown, travel 21km and the large stone entrance to An Creagán Visitor Centre is on your left. If you are travelling from Cookstown take the A505 road to Omagh, travel 21km to Creggan Crossroads (Vivo shop & filling station), travel 100 metres past the filling station and take the first exit on the right to An Creagán Visitor Centre. The nearest postcode is BT79 9AF.

Walk Sections

Start to Glassagh Burn
Start to Glassagh Burn

Start point: 54.6546 lat, -7.0351 long
End point: 54.6603 lat, -7.0572 long

The walk starts from the car park. As you approach An Creagán visitor complex, turn left and walk up the slope between the large stones. As you come to the brow of this incline you will have a view to your left across a 22 acre (9 hectare) remnant of the once much larger Creggan Bog.

This is small piece of undeveloped raised bog which is home to unique colonies of plants including 14 different types of sphagnum moss, cranberry, crowberry, bilberry and the insect eating sundews, amongst others.

A gravel path leads you along the edge of this bog with a short boardwalked outshot giving you the chance to get out into the midst of this soft, peaty landscape without getting your feet wet. Continuing along the gravel path, you will notice to your right the hollowed out landscape of a decommissioned gravel quarry. Closed since the 1960s, it is now populated by willow and birch with a system of ponds running through the quarry floor. These are home to the protected smooth newt as well as our common frog who puts on rather a spectacle during the spawning season when they gather in their hundreds in search of a mate.

As you carry on up a further incline you will enter the marginal forest which is home to spruce and pine, that have spilled over from the adjacent plantation as well as naturally seeded rowan and willow amongst the heathers, ferns and mosses taking advantage of the damp shade.

You carry on through this terrain for 0.5km before entering the Creggan Forest along the access road.

The Sitka Spruce here are planted as a commercial crop, first established in the 1940s and ‘50s to satisfy increasing demands for timber. As they come to maturity, sections are felled by the forest service and, depending on the quality, are destined for use in construction, agriculture, paper production or as fuel.

As you progress along the forest road the density of planting becomes apparent with the occasional firebreak allowing light to reach the forest floor. This scrubby oasis is ideal cover for woodcock who are often stirred into noisy flight if you venture along these forest rides during the short winter evenings.

Around 0.5km into the forest you will notice the clear-felled area to the right which has started to regenerate from the seed dropped into the soil from the mature trees before they were removed. The felling allows a view across to Sawel, the highest peak of the Sperrin mountains in the distance. The occasional standing dead tree trunk provides a perch for passing raptors which include buzzards, sparrowhawks and the brown long-eared owl. A search around the base of one of these trees can reveal the leftovers of their meals in the form of pellets - the regurgitated remains of shrews, mice and small birds compacted into cigar shaped packages!

Carrying on along past this clear-felled area you will come to a cross roads. Continue straight ahead for a further 1km through the densest part of the forest where you will emerge to a landscape of open bogland and the sound of Glassagh Burn, draining water from the spongy landscape. Pausing here you will see a rocky outcrop known as Cashel, a name referring to its ancient use as a hillfort and common in place names throughout the country.

Glassagh Burn to A505
Glassagh Burn to A505

Start point: 54.6603 lat, -7.0572 long
End point: 54.6509 lat, -7.0607 long

The path leads round to the left, following the meander of the burn and with the edge of the forest running to your left.

The open countryside here often allows sightings of ravens with their croaky call and playful flight. Feral goats are also encountered here and throughout the Sperrins where they have successfully bred and made themselves at home.

The main road will slowly come into earshot now and the path turns to take you back in an easterly direction (with the A505 running across to your right).

The forest of spruce and occasional stands of lodgepole pine is on your left and remnant bog on your right. The overgrown remains of turf banks can be seen scattered throughout the bog, given away only by the straight lines of heather plants and the slight change in level of the ground – evidence of a past use for this land and the skill of hand cutting turf which is nigh extinct. The mounded banks of peat along the edge of this path are home to massive colonies of the insect eating sundew plant whose sticky secretions can be seen glistening in the summer sun, just waiting to catch some ill-fated prey. The bog cotton and bog asphodel dwell here also, providing seasonal interest to the walker. The common lizard can often be seen from the path here, basking on the sun warmed turf.

A505 to End
A505 to End

Start point: 54.6509 lat, -7.0607 long
End point: 54.6546 lat, -7.0352 long

You will come to a left-hand bend now which takes you away from the main road and back into the forest where you will shortly return to the cross-roads encountered earlier. Take a right here to retrace your steps back to the marginal, scrubby forest.

When you come to a fork, take the left branch which will return you towards the visitor centre by an alternative route. At the next junction take another right, followed shortly by a left which will take you through the middle of the old gravel quarry. You will emerge in An Creagán community garden area, passing the play park and duck pond before coming to the courtyard of the visitor complex and back to the car park where you began your journey.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author NIWalks and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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