Visit Cookstown: Places to stay, things to do

Immerse yourself in the very heart of Ulster with a trip to the unspoilt County Tyrone. Nick Peers discovers mountains, lakes, ancient forest and the widest street in Northern Ireland


Why go there
County Tyrone offers everything from windswept moors to picturesque forest parks full of deer. It’s Northern Ireland’s largest county, and Cookstown is perfectly placed in the centre to take full advantage of everything it offers, from the windswept Sperrin Mountains to the west and the expansive waters of Lough Neagh, Britain and Ireland’s largest freshwater lake, to the east.
The town itself dates back to the early 17th century, and is a shopper’s paradise with an eclectic mix of independent stores rubbing shoulders with high-street chains, plus a Saturday market, all located on the town’s main street.
If you’re looking for some gentle exercise during your stay, there are a number of rural local walks designed to let you soak up the area’s beauty, and Drum Manor Forest Park is also worth a visit with its mixture of gardens, ponds and an arboretum mixing with woodland.
If you’re willing to venture further afield, you’ll find plenty to do and see on the shores of Lough Neagh. Finally, wildlife lovers should check out three local Wildlife Trust reserves: Moyola Waterfoot, Ballynahone Bog (permission required to visit), and Teal Lough (best viewed from the road).
Where to stay
Avondale Bed & Breakfast offers a warm Irish welcome (with a sprinkling of music) in a picturesque rural setting just outside Cookstown. Prices start from just £30 per person per night (or £50 for single occupancy), and include breakfast.
Where to eat
Tullylagon House Country Hotel offers local produce at the heart of its restaurant menu, and has recently added a wine bar and grill for those looking for something less formal. The place enjoys a strong reputation for both its accommodation and cuisine, and is well worth a visit.
Tell us a local secret
Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver’s Travels while residing as a guest at nearby Loughry Manor in the 1720s.
Main image: © Copyright Linda Bailey and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.