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Derg Valley

Co Tyrone
Derg Valley

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Begin in Newtownstewart, a Plantation town with strong Scottish connections, where the Strule and Owenkillew Rivers meet. Follow Route 6 north on the Douglas Road for a short spell before turning right onto the quieter Bunderg Road. Begin cycling with the curves of the Strule River for a few miles. After visiting Douglas Bridge village, branch off right where the Sperrins begin looming large. Luckily the road shies away towards the Swinging Bridge and Sion Mills. Sion Mills, an architectural jewel, was laid out as a model village when the linen industry boomed in Ireland and is in stark contrast to its more traditional neighbouring towns. Local groups and organisations have done an incredible job restoring its unique architecture.

Follow Route 6 carefully as it twists and turns out of Sion Mills and begins to climb Orchard Road. Out of the saddle, a steep climb takes you into County Donegal briefly, before slacking off the pedals and gently freewheeling down into Castlederg. It's a great place to pull in for a break and a walk around the Diamond and Davies Bawn.

Refreshed and revitalised, it's time to hop on the bike and head back along the southern slopes of the Derg Valley. Climbing out of Castlederg, the Donegal Mountains recede to the west as you follow National Route 95 onto Castlebane Road. Down Creevy Road and around Magheralough takes to the Deer Park at Baronscourt Estate. The Estate boasts a golf course, four star accommodation and all manner of countryside activities. Out of the trees and uphill to Harry Avery's impressive 14th Century castle perched on the hill, above the road. From here it's a short spin back into Newtownstewart where you'll have time to sit down with a cuppa and plan out another route through the Sperrins.

Public roads: On Public Road

Getting to the start: Ulster bus services run from Belfast to Omagh and Strabane for timetables visit www.translink.co.uk. By car from Belfast follow signage for the M1 motorway travel west to Ballygally roundabout and turn north on to the A5 signed Omagh and Derry. From Omagh continue north following the A5 signs for Newtownstewart, Strabane and Londonderry.

Traffic: 90% of this route is on quiet country roads with little traffic.

Start Point:
H402854

Finish Point:
H402854

Distance:
30 miles

Terrain:
Very quiet rural roads with a tarmac surface.

Point of interest:
Harry Avery's Castle Sion Mills Davies Bawn Baronscourt Estate

Facilities:
Cafes, shops and public toilets are available in all of the small towns and villages on the route.

Publication:
Sperrins Cycle Routes available from www.sustransshop.co.uk

Publication availability:
Most Tourist Information Centres in Tyrone and from Sustranshop.co.uk email belfast@sustrans.org.uk

Nearest town:
Newtownstewart

OS map:
12

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