The Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail: Walking The Stairway to Heaven, Ireland

Everything you need to know before you go

stairway to Heaven ireland
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

You’ll often hear the mighty Cuilcagh Boardwalk / Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail referred to as the ‘Stairway to Heaven Ireland’.

The name was coined after a photo taken from the top of the Cuilcagh boardwalk went viral four or five years ago.

Since then, it’s become one of the most popular walks in Ireland and it’s hands-down one of the best things to do in Fermanagh.

In the guide below, you’ll discover everything you need to know if you’re planning on hiking Ireland’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’, or the Cuilcagh Boardwalk / Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail, as it’s officially known.

The Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail (AKA the Stairway to Heaven Ireland): Quick need-to-knows

getting from dublin to cuilcagh
The view from the top of the Stairway to Heaven Ireland: Photo © The Irish Road Trip

You’ll find the Cuilcagh Boardwalk in County Fermanagh, a stone’s throw from Enniskillen Town and the incredible Marble Arch Caves.

The Cuilcagh Boardwalk trail / the Stairway to Heaven Ireland is one of several walks that you can take on the long-distance Cuilcagh Waymarked Way – a 33km walking route that encapsulates Cuilcagh Mountain and the surrounding area.

Difficulty level

The Cuilcagh Legnagbrocky Trail is a pretty straightforward route which will appeal to walkers of medium to high fitness levels. I’ve done this walk twice now.

The first was on a very mild summers morning with little to no wind. I found the walk handy, aside from the short, steep little hills that you have to walk up before you reach the steps.

I’ve also done this walk on a wet and windy day, and it was tough! The wind feels like its battering you from every angle, and it makes the walk much more strenuous.

Stairway to Heaven walk time

On our last visit, we walked from the second car park at Cuilcagh (info on parking below!), strolled along the boardwalk and then climbed the stairs to the top.

We then turned around and headed back down to the car. This took 2 hours and 45 minutes. This included a 20 minutes stop at the top admiring the view.

How many steps are there?

In order to reach the top of the Stairway to Heaven in Fermanagh, you’ll need to conquer 450 steps. This may sound like a massive feat, but it isn’t too bad.

In fact, I’ve always found the walk up to the Cuilcagh boardwalk (it starts a while after the second car park) to be tougher than the steps.

Toilet facilities

There was limited toilet facilities in the first car park at Cuilcagh (the private car park). Whether these are still open given the current state of the world, I’m not sure.

There are also toilets at the nearby Killykeegan Nature Reserve (please note: this is 1km from the start of the trail).

The slightly painful Stairway to Heaven car park

stairway to Heaven car park
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Parking at Cuilcagh is a bit of a pain. For a couple of reasons. The first is due to the popularity of the trail – it gets busy here, especially at the weekends.

This means getting parking can be a nightmare if you don’t arrive early. There are two car parks to choose from:

Cuilcagh Boardwalk car park 1 (the best option, in our opinion)

The handiest car park for the Stairway to Heaven walk is the one that’s located right at the beginning of the Cuilcagh Boardwalk trail.

This car park is privately owned and there’s a charge for using it (it was £5/€6 when I was there last, as far as I can remember).

To find it, pop ‘Cuilcagh Boardwalk car park’ into Google Maps and it’ll take you straight there. If you can, drive through the first car park and down the very narrow road to the second car park.

The car park here is tiny (see above), but it’ll cut out the time you’ll spend walking from the first car park, which isn’t scenic. If you want to nab a space here, arrive early!

Cuilcagh Mountain car park 2 (the free option)

The second option is to use the nearby Killykeegan Nature Reserve car park. It’s free to park here but it’s 1km past the main entrance to the Cuilcagh Stairway to Heaven trail.

This is a handy option if the main, private car park is full. However, your best bet is to get there early and grab a spot in the car park at the start of the trail

The Cuilcagh Boardwalk trail

dublin to cuilcagh mountain
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

The Cuilcagh Legnagbrocky Trail is a pretty straightforward route (it’s straight there and back, so it’s impossible to get lost) which will appeal to walkers of medium to high fitness levels.

This isolated walking route showcases the scenic wilderness of Cuilcagh Mountain over the course of a moderate walk.

The start of the trail

Leave your car in whichever car park you can get parking in and head off in the direction of the trail (you literally can’t miss it). 

The trail meanders along a quiet (unless you arrive on a sunny Saturday morning as we did) farmland track for a while and the path rises and falls a number of times.

Getting into the belly of it

After some time, you’ll spot the Cuilcagh Boardwalk off in the distance. This is your path to the now iconic Stairway to Heaven.

Keep sauntering along the boardwalk and you’ll see the start of the 450 steps come into view in no time. 

Climbing the steps

The steps are a bit of a slog, but there’s decent grip and you can use the rails to pull yourself up if you need to.

There are also little spaces on the stairway where you can pull in for a moment and grab a breather if you need to. 

When you reach the top

When you reach the top of Cuilcagh, you’ll have a mighty view of the surrounding countryside. Unless you arrive on a misty day, that is!

The top of Cuilcagh Mountain can be a bit of an anti-climax. People tend to sit down for a bit and soak up the views before descending via the stairs.

Getting to Cuilcagh Mountain

climbing cuilcagh mountain
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

Regardless of where you’re leaving from, the starting point for the Cuilcagh walk is easy to get to if you’re driving. 

Simply pop ‘Cuilcagh Boardwalk car park’ into Google Maps and you’ll be taken there without any major hassle.

Dublin to Cuilcagh tour

So, there were several tours from Dublin to Cuilcagh up until early 2020. Since March, however, it appears that each of them has stopped running. I’ll update this section when I hear of new tours taking place.

Cuilcagh Mountain Weather

Like all mountains, weather conditions can change quickly. It’s recommended that you check weather conditions in advance of your visit.

Keep in mind that if you visit on a misty day, you won’t be treated to any of the views that you can see in the photos above. Here are two websites you can use for checking the weather for your Cuilcagh hike:

Frequently Asked Questions

cuilcagh mountain boardwalk
Photo © The Irish Road Trip

I published this guide several years ago now. Since then, I’ve been getting weekly emails from those planning a visit.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Cuilcagh Legnabrocky Trail (if there’s a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments):

How long does it take to climb the Stairway to Heaven?

We did the walk from the second car park at Cuilcagh to the top of the boardwalk and back. If you plan on following the route outlined above, it’ll take between 2.5 and 3 hours.

I’ve heard parking at the Cuilcagh Boardwalk trail is terrible, is that true?

If you arrive at peak time (11:00 – 15:00) at the weekends then yes, it is. There’s reasonably limited parking at it gets crazy busy. However, you can always try the alternative car park near Cuilcagh, mentioned above.

How many steps are there on the Fermanagh walk?

You’ll have to climb 450 steps to reach the top of Cuilcagh. This may sound like a lot, but if you have moderate fitness levels you should be fine.

Is the Stairway to Heaven Fermanagh closed?

Cuilcagh has closed for several reasons over the past number of years. Currently, people are being advised to avoid the busy periods (11:00 – 15:00) at the weekends. If in doubt, the best way to confirm is to visit the Marble Arch websites.

How do you pronounce Cuilcagh?

Personally, I say ‘Cul-cah‘, but you often hear people pronounce it ‘Kwel-cahh

What is ‘The stairway to heaven Ireland’?

The name ‘Stairway to Heaven, Ireland’ refers the boardwalk on Cuilcagh Mountain in County Fermanagh. It’s believed that the name originated after a photo taken from the top of the boardwalk went viral.

Where is the stairway to heaven Ireland?

You’ll find it on Cuilcagh Mountain in County Fermanagh. Here it is on Google Map.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. LOVE this post. I’ve been thinking of doingvthis hike but hadn’t done any research into how feasible it actually was.from Dublin. Nice work, sir, you’ve really helped me see how doable it is!

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment! It’s well worth a lash, and it’s a nice handy spin from Dublin – just wrap up well. It’s the windiest place on earth! 🙂

    • Hi David,

      Path and boardwalk all the way. I went over for a look at the little stream near the second car park the last time I was there and made bits of my socks and runners in the first 5 minutes…

      Maybe avoid that. Enjoy the climb.

      Keith

  2. Hi Keith, great review!

    We are hoping to do this at end of March – heading off in the campervan for a few days. Is there anywhere nearby for camper van parking ?

    Thanks Anne

    • Hi Anne,

      If you mean overnight, then I’m not sure, to be honest (I wouldn’t like to throw out a random recommendation and then you end up getting stuck on the day!)! If you mean where can you park while you do the hike, there’s a decent bit of parking before you reach the trail.

      Cheers,

      Keith

    • Hi Aoife,

      I’d say it depends on age and fitness levels. The last two times that I did the Cuilcagh walk the wind was insane and we battled against it from start to finish.

    • Hi Fiona – the last time that I was here (about 2 years ago now) there was a portaloo in the first car park at Cuilcagh.

      I haven’t been since though so I’m not sure if it’s still in place!

  3. No toilets !!!!!
    My god for all those people walking ye d imagine there would be a few portaloos staggered or even a bush !!!
    Thankfully both me and my partner are attending the gym so found the walk tough enough but the actual stairs were the easiest . Expected to arrive on the mountain top with a flat platform and surround view .. would be nice if it could be finished off to the top .but still a nice view and best part was making our way down .apart from toilet urge en route…. enjoy it folks

  4. Update 1st October 2020 – car parks have had a huge upgrade over the summer so you will most likely be able to drive up to 2nd carpark with no trouble as it now takes at least 40 cars and the road between them has improved. Entrance fee for car park now €6 or £5. No toilets but Marble Arch caves interpretative centre is only a 2 minute drive with bathrooms and lots of parking.

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