Walkers of all ages and abilities will be heading for the hills and exploring the local hinterland when the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival returns on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September 2017.
The popular festival, organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council in conjunction with local adventure company Far and Wild, will host a total of six walks over the two days, ranging from easy family friendly strolls to moderate treks and challenging hill walks all led by professional walking guides.
Speaking ahead of the event, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, said it was the perfect opportunity to showcase the majestic local landscape to visitors and locals alike.
“The Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival has firmly established itself as a key date on the national walking calendar offering walkers the opportunity to get off the beaten track and discover the beautiful scenery our district has to offer,” he said.
“It is an inclusive event where everyone from the novice walker to experienced hikers are catered for and I am particularly pleased that there is an emphasis on encouraging young people to get out into the fresh air and learn more about their local area. I would encourage as many people as possible to sign up for the walks, the event plays a key role in promoting our area as a destination for walking visitors from all over Ireland and beyond but also in heightening local people’s awareness of the nature and scenery on their doorstep.”
The festival begins with an early 6am start at the Pedestrian Bridge at the Melvin Sports Centre in Strabane on Saturday September 16th when the 4km long Easy ‘Dawn Chorus’ Walk will allow walkers of all levels to explore Strabane’s captivating greenway along the River Mourne to Sion Mills.
Later that morning the Sawel Challenge at 9am will take more experienced walkers on a 12km hike through some of the highest peaks of the Sperrins before the Balix and Beyond 8km walk will allow more moderate ability walkers along a natural heritage site that links into the Murlough, Hollyhill and Legfordrum areas.
On Sunday the action moves to the scenic landscape of Killeter where experienced local guides will impart their knowledge about the ecology, history and folklore of this wild and remote part of West Tyrone.
At 9am the ‘Challenging the International Reach of the Killeter Camino’ walk from Killeter village will explore the international heritage links of the local area to the Camino de Santiago and the International Appalachian Trail.
Later that morning the Water of Life walk will offer the opportunity to trace the flow of the River Derg and surrounding lakes as a life giving watercourse through Killeter and beyond.
Finally the family friendly Pilgrim Trail from Killeter Village to Magherakeel and St Patrick’s Well will offer the opportunity to explore the old local route to Lough Derg where a host of local wild life including the Red Hare, Sparrow Hawks, Peregrine Falcons and the Irish Otter may be spotted.
The Killeter Walks will begin at Killeter Community Hall while the meeting point for the Glenelly Walks is Watts Barr in Plumbridge.
Registration for the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival is open now at www.sperrinskilleterwalking.com where full details of each walk are available.