Lonely Planet Writer

Why this ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in Ireland has become a social media star

A wooden walkway at Cuilcagh Mountain in County Fermanagh has become a social media phenomenon in its own right. Nicknamed the ‘stairway to heaven,’ the boardwalk opened in 2015 with an aim of conserving pristine blanket bog and restoring damaged peatland that had been eroded by people walking through it.

Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk has become a huge attraction. Image: Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark
Cuilcagh Mountain Boardwalk has become a huge attraction. Image: Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark

The boardwalk is located in Cuilcagh Mountain Park in Northern Ireland and forms part of the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail. Prior to it being constructed, the number of walkers in the area was below 3000 annually, but thanks to the popularity of the boardwalk, this figure rose to 60,000 in 2017. The view from the wooden walkway is so scenic and picturesque, thousands of people have been sharing selfies taken from it on social media. It’s also sustainable, as the visitors are no longer damaging the fragile landscape.

The wooden staircase has made the trail far more accessible for people. Photo by Tourism Northern Ireland

At 665 metres above sea level, Cuilcagh is the highest mountain point in this part of Ireland and appeals to those with some experience of walking in the hills. Climbing to the summit involves a 14.8 km round trip from Legnabrocky car park, and this route is quite isolated and showcases the scenic wilderness of the mountain, which has the famous Marble Arch Caves at the bottom. The stepped boardwalk is 1.6 km in length and is located at the end of a 5.8 km limestone gravel track. The full trail takes about six hours to complete.

It’s become one of the most popular things to do in Northern Ireland. Photo by Tourism Northern Ireland

The popularity of the walkway has caused some teething problems. The car park is small and privately owned and at peak times vehicles are being parked on verges along the road and gridlock can occur. Booking ahead is recommended for weekends, public holidays and bank holidays, while in July and August you should book your ticket two days in advance. If you want to beat the crowds, be aware that Easter Monday was the most popular day at the wooden walkway for the last two years running.

For further information, see here.

This article was updated on 13 November 2018.