Crom ghost walk
Upper Lough Erne, Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh BT92 8APRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This tranquil landscape of islands, woodland and historic ruins is home to a number of ghostly tales and unexplained spectral sightings.
- Bus stop
Start: Visitor centre, grid ref: H332244
Start at the Crom visitor centre. It's in an old stone estate yard overlooking Upper Lough Erne. Its barns are a roosting site for bats, with seven different species inhabiting this area. Look at the walls to see the little holes that act as their doorways. Please note: the visitor centre is closed from October onwards, but you can still see the roosting bats if they are out and about. Turn left as you leave the yard and walk along the old carriageway towards Crom Castle for a short while before turning left again through a gate into the parkland.
Follow the path to the Old Castle. Here you'll encounter one of the oldest yew trees in Ireland. Estimates of its age vary between 400 and 1,000 years. Be careful not to stand on its roots as they're quite delicate.
The ancient yews in the Old Castle Garden have been named as one of the '50 greatest British trees'. In the 19th century, parties of 200 people are said to have dined beneath their branches. The Crom estate is one of the largest areas of semi-natural woodland in Northern Ireland, with a rich variety of uncommon lichens, wild flowers such as dog violet and wood anemone, and many different species of fungi, including waxcaps bright toadstools that emerge in autumn in short grassland.
Continue along the Loughside, past a pretty boathouse, before crossing the White Bridge onto Inisherk Island.
From the early 18th century until the 1960s, locals spoke of eerie lights which appeared above the waters of Upper Lough Erne. The lake doesn't produce the right settings for marsh gas, which is the usual explanation for these occurrences. Some believe it to be ghostly fianna, the fair-headed people who resided here long ago. Although these illuminations were ghostly in sight, theories have been sought for a more down to earth explanation for their existence and the one most widely held concentrates on the areas smuggling history. Until recently, smuggling was prolific along this stretch of water and the use of lights would have kept law-abiding locals away from these illicit activities.
Make a little loop of the island, passing a walled garden.
Cross back over the bridge and turn left, taking a path through trees with Upper Lough Erne on your left and the grounds of Crom Castle to your right.
In 1992 a couple had a disturbing experience while on Inishfendra, a small island in Upper Lough Erne. The man lay down for a rest on a flat rock jutting out over the water, but was woken suddenly to find himself surrounded by a group of bare-chested and heavily armed men, all staring down at him, only to disappear into thin air moments later. On returning to the visitor centre he described the sighting to a local volunteer, including the strange archaic clothing the figures wore. The volunteer realised that the rock the man had been snoozing on was in fact a votive stone, a sacred place where the pre-Christian Celts used to make sacrifices to their gods.
Reach the castle's main drive and continue walking until a path breaks off to your right near the small inland Lough Nalughoge.
Rejoin your first path and turn left, returning to the visitor centre and car park.
End: Visitor centre, grid ref: H332244
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5km)
- Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
- OS Map: NI Discoverer Map 27
The grounds are partly accessible to wheelchair users. The grass and woodland pathways are free of slopes with reasonably smooth and level surfaces, but can be muddy. There are other way-marked paths offering shorter walks.
- How to get here:
By bike: 2 miles (3.2km) of National Cycle Network Route 91 (the Kingfisher Trail), runs through property
By boat: ferry from Derrymore church (book 24 hours in advance)
By bus: Ulsterbus 95, Enniskillen to Clones (connections from Belfast), alight Newtownbutler, 3 miles (4.8km)
By car: 3 miles (4.8km) west of Newtownbutler on the Newtownbutler to Crom road or follow signs from Lisnaskea, 7 miles (11.2km). Crom is next to Shannon-Erne waterway. For Sat Navs: BT92 8AP
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