THE SPECTACULAR Sperrins has been named in the National Geographic’s prestigious list of Top 101 Scenic Drives in the World.
The mountain range which straddles the counties of Londonderry and Tyrone, was praised for having “wild beauty, ideal trails and dreamy villages” and claimed number 88 on the list, which also featured the Ring of Kerry as number 57.
Pauline Gormley, Destination PR Officer of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) welcomed the accolade and encouraged people to visit the Sperrins and explore the area.
“The Sperrins truly deserve to be named in this prestigious list of top scenic drives as they take in four separate scenic driving routes, east, central, south and north of the Sperrins which comprise a wealth of countryside, breath-taking scenery and ancient monuments,” said Pauline.
“It’s fantastic that the Sperrins has been officially recognised on a world platform as while it is Northern Ireland’s largest mountain range it is also probably the least explored.
“I would encourage everyone to visit this area as there is so much history as well as beauty in the mountain range. There is also a host of activity taking place over the coming months which makes for a fantastic day trip or weekend break,” she added.
NITB has put together a list of upcoming events taking place and attractions in the Sperrins region to help get you started.
Sperrins Walking Festival 2012: Saturday 4th August – Monday 6th August
This year sees the 16th annual Walking Festival in the Sperrins where visitors can enjoy stunning scenery in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The walks cater for all ages and abilities with family strolls, moderate treks and challenging hill walks. All walks are led by professional walking guides who will not only lead you through this fascinating landscape but let you in on the hidden secrets and gems of the Sperrins region along the way.
East Tyrone Cycling Club Sperrin Challenge 2012: Sunday 12th August
Beginning from Moneymore Recreational Centre, the cycling challenge is aid of Cystic Fibrosis Trust with three different levels of 35 miles, 55 miles and 75 miles. There is a BBQ for all at the finish.
Killeter Fair: Saturday 18th August
Get a taste of the Derg Valley with a visit to one of Ireland’s largest and oldest fairs. For further information contact Gordon Speer on 028 8167 0636.
11th Benedict Literary Festival Weekend: Friday 7th September
This year’s event, called ‘Drink to the Bird’ takes place at Strule Arts Centre in Omagh. There will be various talks, lectures and workshops over the weekend and an Art Exhibition entitled ‘Memory, Imagination, Myth’ which will run from the 7th September until 27th October.
Killeter Heritage & Walking Weekends 2012: Hillwalks & Landscapes: Saturday 8th September
Experience a reawakening of the soul on your walking journey through the scenic uplands of the Killeter and the Derg Valley while also developing an appreciation of the geology, archaeology, ecology, folk traditions, and legends of the landscapes that being explored.
A beautiful 17th Century Manor House which was home to ten generations of the influential Lennox-Conyngham Family.
Beaghmore Stone Circles
A reflection of the ritual and spiritual life in the early Bronze Age. Archaeologists believe that the Beaghmore stone circles date back to around 1500BC.
Wellbrook Beetling Mill
An 18th century water powered beetling mill situated in a picturesque wooded glen on the banks of the Ballinderry River.
An Creagan Centre
Distinctively designed to mirror the archaeological sites of the area, the centre gives you the opportunity to step back in time. It also houses an interpretative exhibition and offers archaeological, environmental and cultural guided tours of the surrounding area.
The Glenelly Valley
Carved by the glacial flows of the Ice Age this diverse and stunning landscape features picturesque walking and cycling routes, peaceful picnic sites, and mysterious archaeological remains which add to the enchantment of the region. Check out Bodoney Church, Glenroan Portal Tomb, and Clogherny Wedge Tomb.
Gortin Glen Forest Park
A major recreational feature of the forest is the five-mile long drive, which offers some breathtaking views. A number of vista parks have been created where the motorist can pull in and enjoy the magnificent scenery. This forest also offers; an off-road cycle trail and walking trails.
The Linen Village of Upperlands is characterised by the ancient craft of linen making. Where the Knockoneill River reaches the Clady River are a number of dams which were essential for storing water to wash, bleach, dye and starch the linen during the manufacturing process.
Gortin Lakes Picnic / Amenity Site
These two lakes are known in geological terms as “kettle hole” lakes left by uneven melting of glaciers. A path encircling the lakes opens up spectacular vistas of the high Sperrins.
Ulster American Folk Park
Telling the story of emigration from Ulster to America in the 18th, 19th and early 20th Centuries, the park provides visitors with a “living history” experience on its outdoor site. Traditional thatched buildings, American log houses, and a full-scale replica emigrant ship help to bring a bygone era back to life. The Centre for Migration Studies is also on site.