Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark
The Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the rugged mountainous uplands and the gentle rolling lowlands of Counties Fermanagh and Cavan, stretching from the northern shores of Lower Lough Erne in County Fermanagh to the southern shores of Lough Oughter in County Cavan. Jointly managed by both Fermanagh District Council and Cavan County Council, the Geopark promotes this area as one of the premier tourist destination in the North West of Ireland.
It is one of 119 UNESCO Global Geoparks across 33 countries worldwide and only the second UNESCO designated site in Northern Ireland. The status is awarded in recognition of the areas internationally significant rocks and landscapes and how they are utilised for sustainable tourism.
The Geopark boasts over 50 stunning sites including breath-taking viewpoints, magical waterfalls, wonderful wetlands and fantastic forests; with key sites including the mystical Cavan Burren Park, Lough Navar Forest, Shannon Pot (all of which are open year round) and the world famous Marble Arch Caves (open mid-March – October).
Gently rolling drumlins and winding rivers set against a dramatic backdrop of spectacular cliffs, rugged rocky outcrops and upland blanket bog, set the stage for what the Geopark has to offer. The incredible landscapes host a magical array of biodiversity from the Red deer and Red Squirrels of its forest’s, to the waders and wildfowl of the loughs or the bees and butterflies of the limestone grasslands. Scenic highlights in the Geopark include the major lake systems of the Erne, MacNean and Oughter, all combining to create a truly sensational blend of beautiful landscapes. But the limelight truly belongs to the Marble Arch Caves, Cavan Burren Park and Cuilcagh Mountain Park, all located at the very heart of the Geopark.
It’s not just the internationally important natural landscapes that make this area so special. Prehistoric tombs, Iron Age forts, early Christian monasteries, and Plantation Castles are scattered across the landscape. All of these monuments remind us of the intimate relationship that people have had with the landscape since their arrival in Ireland thousands of years ago.
Combine this rich abundance of heritage with the very best of facilities and it becomes obvious why the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark is the perfect location for an activity holiday or just to relax and enjoy beautiful scenery. Given the spectacular and unique landscapes the Geopark has to offer, it is hardly surprising that outdoor recreational facilities are an extremely important part of the Geopark. The vast expanses of open water and the rugged landscapes lend themselves effortlessly to an array of diverse water and land based activities where there is something to suit everyone regardless of their interests.
The Geopark contains a host of walking trails from wheelchair accessible trails at Ely Lodge or Cavan Burren Park to much more challenging walks such as the Cuilcagh Way or Cavan Way. In between there are walks that suit everyone whether you want an easy stroll through the forest, a relaxing dander along the lough shore or a walk with a view.
Marble Arch Caves
The Marble Arch Caves are one of the key sites within the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark.
The Marble Arch Caves are one of Europe's finest showcaves and allow visitors to explore a fascinating, natural underworld of rivers, winding passages and lofty chambers. Lively and informative guides conduct tours past a bewildering variety of cave formations. Stalactites glisten above steamways and chambers, while fragile mineral veils and cascades of creamy calcite coat walls and create shimmering terraces. Spectacular walkways allow easy access while powerful lighting reveals the stunning beauty and grandeur of the caves. Electrically powered boats glide through the huge caverns carrying visitors along a subterranean river.
Tours last for 75 minutes and are suitable for people of any age and of average fitness.
They consist of a 1.5km guided walk with 154 steps to climb at the end. Comfortable walking shoes and a warm sweater are recommended. Please be aware that the length of the tour is weather dependent and parts of the cave may be inaccessible after heavy rain.
After your guided tour, take the time to explore the informative exhibition area in the Visitor Centre, watch the free audio-visual presentation, browse the diverse range of products available in the gift shop and take a leisurely stroll through the Marble Arch National Nature Reserve. For little kids (and big kids alike!), ask at reception for a free worksheet to complete the fun fossil trail in the carpark, or see what insects and wildflowers you can identify in the wildflower knoll at the rear of the Centre!
To explore and book our eclectic range of events, such as our Fossil Fun Day, Caving Expedition, Easter Extravaganza and Gourmet Tour, plus an array of guided walks, bug hunts, wildflower walks and informative talks, visit our website or find us on Facebook.
Visit our website to find out more about walking trails, events, opening times and everything else the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark has to offer.
2017 Northern Ireland Tourism Awards, Sustainable Tourism Award, Winner