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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.