Categories: Walking & Hiking

Sometimes all you need is the air that you breathe and a bit of room. With over forty miles of wide-open spaces and unspoilt natural beauty, the Sperrins are the ideal place for slowing down, getting away from it all and sucking in the fresh air.

Weekend wanders are what this place is made for. Northern Ireland's largest and least explored mountain range offers the perfect escape for walkers. So whether you’re after an army-like arm swinging mountain trek or a more gentle stroll, take one or all of the following walks in the Sperrins. All tastes are catered for in this neck of the woods - there’s plenty of them too by the way.

Go for glorious Glenelly Valley

The windswept, heather-clad slopes stretch from Castlederg in the west to Maghera in the east and from Limavady to Dungannon from north to south. The beautiful Glenelly Valley between Plumbridge and Draperstown is popular with hillwalkers and provides access to the highest peaks in the Sperrins range, including the king of them all, Sawel (678m).

Gorgeous Gortin Lakes and challenging Craignamaddy

There are a myriad of other great treks to tackle too ranging from the short half-mile jaunt around Gortin Lakes to the two-and-a-half mile Lough Fea. If you’re not too pressed for time take on the four-mile stretch of Ness, Ervey and Burntollet or the slightly longer Carntogher Way and you can always come back to march along the epic twelve-mile Craignamaddy Circuit.

Walk the stone circle circuit

Rich in beauty, the Sperrins is also wealthy in archaeological heritage and folklore. With narrow glens, deep valleys, sandy eskers and mysterious lakes, this area has always been a place of wonder and from time to time it throws up some clues to its mystical past.

The seven stone circles, ten stone rows and a dozen round cairns with human remains at the  Beaghmore Stone Circles were discovered in the 1940s by some locals digging for peat and along these trails you’ll find little pockets of ancient remains like the Clogherny Wedge Tomb and the Glenroan Portal Tomb.

You’ll find out more about them at An Creagán, a visitor centre that doubles as a welcome retreat with a range of essential services onsite where walkers can unwind, recharge, relax and even stay the night.

Take a walk back into the local heritage

For something a bit more luxurious, make sure your trail passes the Ardtara Country House near the old linen-making village of Upperlands in County Londonderry. On your way there, you’ll come across a number of dams essential for storing water to wash, bleach, dye and starch the linen that built the towns and great houses of this area.

If your trial takes you to the west be sure to stop off at the fascinating Ulster American Folk Park in Omagh and walk through the tale of Irish emigration to the New World.

Just make sure you don’t leave us forever. When you come back the Sperrins will still be here and you’ll need more than one visit to see it all.