Castle Archdale Islands Nature Reserve

Nature reserves are chosen from among the very best examples of our wildlife, habitats and geology. They contain a wide range of species, communities and geology and their designation is a public recognition by Government of their importance.


Castle Archdale Islands Nature Reserve comprises of five deciduous forested islands in Northern Ireland and is one of the least wooded areas in all of Europe. The islands are situated approximately 0.75 of a mile off the Castle Archdale Country Park shoreline and include Inishmakill, Cleenishgarve, Cleenishmeen, Strongbow Island and Gay Island.

Sights and sounds

These small, hilly islands are the tops of drumlins, the lower parts of which were drowned when Lough Erne was formed. The peaceful and quiet woodland areas on these islands are a mixture of many different species of trees including oak, yew and ash. The trees grow tall and form the canopy of the woodland while underneath, willow and hazel spread their branches to gather light. 

The spindle tree, with its green stems, also grows here but may be difficult to spot. Only in autumn when its leaves turn dark red and the fruits are bright pink will this catch the eye of walkers and visitors passing by. 

Aspens also add a splash of colour with their golden circular leaves.  Open glades in the wood with dense leafy areas of bracken, bramble, hawthorn and ivy provide the ideal home for the garden warbler. This uncommon, small brown bird nests close to the ground amongst the foliage.

The central part of Inishmakill was once improved for agriculture but evidence of this past use is found in old field ditches and the walls of a house, abandoned in the 1930's and now swallowed up in the trees. There is a jetty, suitable only for small boats (not cruisers), at Inishmakill. A circular earth path goes around the island. 

Access should be arranged with the site manager, located at Castle Archdale Country Park.

Further information

For further information contact the Site Manager at Castle Archdale Country Park. Tel: 02866344803

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