Walk This Way: An oasis of fauna, flora and history

Dungannon Park is a 70-acre oasis centred round an idyllic still water lake, with miles of interesting pathways.
Dungannon Park is a 70-acre oasis centred round an idyllic still water lake, with miles of interesting pathways.

One of WalkNi’s most scenic and historic rambles is a parkland set in 70 acres of flora, fauna and water.

On mostly level, surfaced paths, the Dungannon Park route is not the most challenging, but there is so much to see and appreciate along the way, it will take much longer to traverse than you might think.

The centrepiece of the Park Trail is undoubtedly the 13-acre freshwater lake, which is not only an important visual feature for those who visit, but also provides recreational value in the form of angling and boating activities for thousands of fly fishing enthusiasts every year.

The lake, although nowadays very much an established feature of the park, was not always part of the natural landscape.

In the 1790’s, the then owner Viscount Northland ordered that the low-lying meadows of his considerable estate be flooded to create an ornamental lake.

In past decades the lake has also been a source of water to Moygashel mills for their weaving factory.

It also provides important habitats for wildlife with visiting Canadian geese, mallard duck, swans and the occasional nesting grebes.

The lake has witnessed an increasing number of otter visits and sightings of kingfisher in what is essentially a natural oasis on an urban fringe. So, plenty of scope for photographers.

A striking feature of the lake is its stone masonry dam, spanning 60 metres, which creates a waterfall effect as the water flows over the dam and downstream to Moygashel. Masonry dams of this period were relatively uncommon in Ireland, but a similar dam in design and size is seen in John Smeaton’s 1776 example on the River Croquet, in Durham.

There is a multitude of tree varieties planted along the walk including oak, beech, wild cherry, horse chestnut, lime, birch and rowan.

The park trail leads the walker to the higher ground, known as Nunnery Hill, a vantage point which commands splendid views over townlands, neighbouring counties and countryside.

Dungannon and South Tyrone is an area steeped in history. Known as the Seat of the O’Neill’s, the town itself boasts the legendary Castle Hill, where the second Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O’Neill, built his fort because of it’s lofty hilltop views.