The walk to Banagher Dam, about 8 kilometres from Dungiven, passes through one of Ireland’s most ancient oak woodlands on the edge of the Sperrin Mountains – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The forest is reached along the Magheramore Road, south west of Dungiven. A car park there is open daily in July and August, and at weekends in June and September. At other times, visitors can still access the nature reserve by parking outside the gate.
The 3-kilometre walk begins at the quaintly named Kissing Gate. The route wends its way past the old filter house, forking left through Banagher Glen, crossing a number of bridges, and continuing as far as Altnaheglish Reservoir which is an impressive piece of architecture in its own right.
The forest is a nature reserve and an Area of Special Conservation. It is densely wooded and quite steep in places but, because the pathway is surfaced, the walk is less demanding than it might otherwise be.
The glen’s slopes are well covered by mature trees, mostly oak and ash, but with rowan and hazel as well. The area has one of the largest and least disturbed examples of old sessile oak woods in Northern Ireland which confers the glen with significant ecological importance.