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On Sunday 12 th April 2015 West Tyrone Ramblers completed Omagh Town Circuit (Part 2). Seventeen walkers took part on a 7.5 mile ramble around Omagh Town. We departed from the Leisure Centre turning left, down the Gortin Road, and turning right over Sedan Avenue. We had a stop at the Jail Square where a brief history of the location was given and then proceeded left, over Brookmount Road, noting the shortest street in Ireland (or the world) as we passed it!? We took the slip path up behind the James Street Fold and across to Fairmount (Gallows) Hill. A brief history of this location was also given as we strolled along the Embankment to the rear of the houses and across the bridge leading to Sacred Heart College and Sunningdale. Exiting from Sunningdale we walked right up the Kevlin Road and turned left into Townview Avenue. We took the bicycle/pedestrian walk way through Festival Park and crossed through the tunnel under the GNR (A5) road to Johnston Park. At the top of Scarffes Entry we turned right on to High street, through Market Street Arcade to the car park at the rear of Supervalu. We crossed the Dublin Road and along the front of the library to King James’s Bridge, and again a brief local history of this area was imparted. We proceeded to the Crevenagh 'Park and Ride' and crossed over to walk up Winters (Bells) Lane to the Hospital Road. We continued right up the Hospital Road to the T&F Hospital and grounds. We strolled around the building and again considered the history of the site. We left the grounds of the T&F Hospital and crossed to Cranny Bridge where we had light refreshments and then walked along the Camowen River path to the Lovers Retreat. Crossing the Cookstown Road we walked out to the Killyclogher Burn and down the Old Mountfield Road into the Leisure Centre grounds of the Arleston Road.. We finished with tea/coffee and scones in the 'Gally' restaurant.
On a frosty Saturday morning thirty ramblers arrived at Carndaisy Church, which was the starting point for the latest WTR walk. They donned gaiters and appropriate gear as the pathway leading to the base of Slieve Gallion was quite mucky after the recent snow and rain. On crossing a small burn along the side of the mountain they came to a snow-covered lane. The walk to the top was pleasant, as by this stage, the sun had come out. They continued onwards to reach the mast at the summit. Here it was bitterly cold and windy so they had a welcome lunch-break in a sheltered spot on the eastern side overlooking Lough Neagh. Making their way to the cairn they were treated to spectacular views over the Sperrins and the surrounding area. The return journey to the starting point was through open mountain via a different route.
We visited Ballykelly Bank on Saturday Jan 10th where 17 Ramblers proved the two old sayings 'Nothing Ventured Nothing Gained' and 'There is no such thing as Bad Weather just Bad Clothing'. Despite very bad weather forecasted the Walk Coordinator insisted apart from heavy winds the local forecast for the walk was not that bad. Though after leaving the Drummond Hotel in Ballykelly the heavy hailstone shower on the approach to the Foyle Estuary had many members of the group wondering what was in store. However this was the worst weather of the day and even though the Scenic Binevenagh mountain occasionally kept disappearing in front of them the Walkers were kept dry.When the sun was out the Northern Sperrins and Benbradagh (a recent outing for the ramblers) could be clearly seen. Most of the walk was down below sea level on land reclaimed from the Foyle protected by sea walls and pumphouses. A highlight of the day was the driver of the Belfast to Derry train responding to our waves by hooting the train's horn. At the entrance to the former RAF Ballykelly a member of the party told the tale when she landed there from Liverpool on that infamous flight the pilot confused Ballykelly with Eglington. After seven and a half miles the ramblers rewarded themselves with Hot Ports and Coffees in the Drummond.
Central Sperrin Way
Our club started the new year with a very enjoyable walk over the
Central Sperrins. Nineteen of the experienced hill walkers set off for
the Glenelly valley. To start our walk we were treated to home made
scones, cream and home made jam by Claire. What a treat and surprise
that was to start off the new year.
Ballygawley & Omagh
The last two walks of the West Tyrone Ramblers were local 'C' walks. On the 13th December our walk was the 'Branny Ramble' which begins at U.S. Grants Ancestral Homestead outside Ballygawley. The total length of the walk was 7.5 miles, over road and pathway. A particular 'hard' frost the night before posed little problems for the 22 walkers. It was a very scenic countryside walk, with a few hills but nothing overly demanding. Visibility was very good, and from the 'Rath' at the top of Branny Hill, the nine counties of Ulster are visible. Tea and coffee was served in Askins, Ballygawley where another link with an American President was marked. The walkers got to sit in 'The Clinton Seat'! On Tuesday 24th May 2001 William Jefferson Clinton called into 'Askins' en route to Dublin for tea and refreshments.
On Sunday 21st December 25 walkers completed a 9 mile walk of 'Omagh Town Circuit'. The walk departed from Omagh Leisure through Grange Park, out to Strathroy and over the new pedestrian bridge to the Derry Road via Hunters Crescent. We walked down to the Derry Road Roundabout, and then up the pedestrian pathway running adjacent to the GNR road and ending at Thornville Park. We crossed the Brookmount Road, down Abbey Street and over Castle Street, into River Row. We walked along the River Path and crossed the bridge behind the South West College to bring us out at the bus depot. We crossed Drumragh Bridge and past the Memorial Gardens back into the Lower end of the Leisure Centre car park to the boating/bowling end. We followed the Riverside path up to the Arleston Road turning right, and then at the Cookstown road turning left out past the Lovers Retreat to Cranny Bridge and returning by the Riverside Path. Leaving the Lovers Retreat via Donnelly's Holm we walked to 'the Laurels' at the 'Swinging Bars' roundabout. We entered the Leisure Centro Park from the Campsie footbridge. We had tea and scones at the Leisure Centre.
Members departed on October 18th from Omagh Leisure Centre at 9.30am, driving via Fintona, Tempo and Maguiresbridge to Lisanaskea, meeting at Courtney's garage. Following the signs for Crom Estate, 41 members prepared for a ramble around this National Trust property.
The weather was dry, gusts of wind from time to time,mainly blue skies with an occasional threat of rain. Starting from the Visitor Centre car park, the members followed the tract leading to Cullaghs Wood, an area rich in fine stands of oak and sycamore. After following the circular path on the right and returning back to the gate at the parkland, members walked across the pasture, following the line of Chestnut trees to the entrance driveway. The path continued to the Old Castle and the Yew Trees. Crom Old Castle built in 1610, withstood two sieges and later destroyed by an accidental fire in 1764. The ramblers spent some time exploring the ruins and Yew Trees, reputed to be the oldest in Ireland.
From the Old Castle the group made there way along the track to the Boat House, designed in 1841 by Edward Blore and for many years home of the Lough Erne Yacht Club. Members took the opportunity to take photos and enjoying the spendid views across the lough towards Crichton Tower on Gad Island. Continuing over the White Bridge unto Inisherk Island, the group visited the Walled Garden before arriving at a jetty and the chance to stop for lunch.
After refreshments the group followed the path waymarked around Inisherk Island, a woodland with a rich variety of plants and animals, deer were spotted on two occasions, also remarkable quantities of acorns. After 3 klms the track emerged from the woodland at the White Bridge. Continuing over the bridge to the Summer House, then to the Ice House and Turf House the path turned towards Crom Castle, an opportunity to take more photographs. Crom Castle being the location for the BBC series “Blanding” Contiuing along the path with The Green Lough on the right members finished at the Visitors Centre, after a 6.5 miles ramble, with a cream tea in the tea rooms.
Slieve Donard , Mournes.
On Saturday 4th Oct 19 members of West Tyrone Ramblers including 9 Donard 'Virgins' met at Donard Park in Newcastle. After freshly made scones in the car park we were all ready to Climb Ulster's highest mountain at 850m from Sea Level.We started through the Forest Park along the Glen River to the open mountain near the Ice House.The views for the rest of the day were second to none in mostly blue skies.We split the group so everyone could ascend at their own pace.After regrouping for a lunch we all thought we richly deserved we headed off down the mountain towards the Quarry on the eastern side. Though this route was off the tourist track and more difficult is was a much easier descent on the knees. We then finished the ramble through the forest . We then headed to the Percy French for refreshments and tales of a most memorable day.
Sunday 28th Sept saw 15 Ramblers head off to Benbradagh in the Walk's leaders home county of Derry.We were blessed with sunshine and the moorland had benefitted from the long dry period. Spectular views were on offer all day , Binevenagh , Lough Swilly and the Antrim Hills.At lunch we were entertained by the action of ravens and paragliders.We returned via the old War Communciations base which proved to be very interesting..
Loughall Apple Orchards
On Saturday 20th September our ramble was a most enjoyable outing where 33 Ramblers were treated to a unique trip around the orchards of Loughgall. Starting at Loughgall Country Park we followed a path around the golf course. We then passed an old lime kiln and made our way out of the park and up to a country Manor House which is now used as an Agricultural government building. Next we passed by some gardens containing colourful shrubs. We visited various apple orchards including a processing plant where Bramley apples are graded and packaged and sent off for making apple pies and for cider making. At the final orchard many ramblers took the opportunity to pick some cooking apples. Once back at the Country Park we were treated to one of the finest teas we have ever had, courtesy of Gladys and Pauline. Everyone enjoyed eating in the open air and basking in the sunshine. Tales of the day were discussed and we all agreed that it had been a perfect day out.
Slieve Bearnagh , Mournes
On Saturday 6th September 20 club ramblers (2 deserters were seen heading off on bikes) plus 4 fellow walkers from St Agnes Parish walking club in Belfast tackled Slieve Bernagh in the Mournes. One of the most distinctive of the Mourne Mountains , Slieve Bernagh , with it's granite tors on its summit at a height of 739m (2,400 ft). The fourth largest in the Mournes (After Donard , Commedagh and Binnian).
Commencing at the Trassey Road Car park, the route started with the Trassey track main up mainly of loose stones and rock , for abour 25km uphill past Clonachullion wood which tooks us onto the Mourne mountain terrain , to the Trassey river ford which sits below the Hares Gap at which point we had our first view of our target along with Slieve Meelmore. Crossing the ford our route turned right up a steep rack through the disused Mourne Grantie Stone Quarry along the track past the bernagh slabs to the stile located on the Mourne Wall at the coll between Slieve Meelmore and Slieve Bernagh
the stile the route traverses left across the steep slope of Slieve
Bernagh rising gradually and then engages in a steep climb up to the
summit tor of Bernagh; here many walkers felt a sense of achievement. Others went off for further challenges climbing the tors while the remainder were content with their lunch and the amazing views of the other mountains in the Mournes such as Doan and Donard and the reservoirs.
Exiting the tor
along the rear flank of Slieve Bernagh we traversed the rear slope along
sheep paths until it connects with the Mourne wall and the path which
leads down the wall to the Hares gap. This is a steep descent down
broken ground where the great comradeship between members was evident , where the less technical gifted members of the art of descending were ably encouraged by the walk coordinators to a successful and safe descent. Crossing the Stile the ramblers walked high along the side of hare's gap then back along another part of the Trassey path to the cars before well deserved refreshments at the Downshire Hotel , Hilltown. A very enjoyable day indeed..
Gortmore , Magillian.
An excellent turnout of 34 Ramblers on Saturday August 23rd were awarded with excellent clear views when they walked on the Binevenagh plateau overlooking Magillian Poiint and Benone strand. Parking (and also lunching) at the scenic Gortmore Viewing point the ramblers walked in total nearly 6 miles divided into two loops.
The afternoon loop took the walkers in the opposite direction facing Binevenagh mountain again along field and cliff top to Hell's Hole ( a distinctive gulley). The ramblers then again returned via a quiet road before gatecrashing a wedding reception in Ballykelly on the way home.
Dart and Sawel , Sperrins.
On Sunday 17th August 23 ramblers left the old Sperrin Heritage Centre which is now the new base for the invaluable North West Mountain Rescue Team. Their first challenge of the day was Dart Mountain . With mixed weather conditions , including the need to shelter for a while the ramblers , made their way with a 400 metre elevation , after an initial laneway , over mainly rough heather and coarse grass , to the summit of Dart at 619m. While many of the Sperrins have a roundness to them Dart has something approaching a defined summit with a craggy peak.
Following lunch in the shelter of crags on Dart , the Ramblers then headed onto the Col linking Dart with its more famed neighbour Sawel. The winds were very strong and the group had to battle their way to the summit made out of crystalline limestone. At 678m (2224ft) Sawel is the highest mountain in the Sperrins and the county Tops of both Tyrone and Derry.
The group then followed a fence down back to the Glenelly Valley. After
a 7.5 mile walk taking 6 hours , including stops , the Ramblers then
headed to Gortin for some well deserved refreshments after conquering
the highest peak in the Sperrin on the same day the region featured on
BBC's Countryfile programme.
Spelga Dam Circuit , Mourne Mountains ( Described by one commentator thus " The summits of the western Mournes may lack the gradeur of their famous eastern cousins, but they do not lack for quality walking or views")
Nine members of West Tyrone Ramblers arrived at the carpark at Spelga Dam to begin their ramble around the nearby seven peaks. The leader had chosen a route which encompassed a walk on the lower mountains giving amazing views across the seven mile wide Kingdom of Mourne.
Leaving the carpark, crossing the B27 the group followed the grassy track to the top of Slievenmuck(500m). From the top there were really good views south across the Spelga Reservoir and north east across the flanks of Slieve Meelmore and Slieve Meelbeg. The bright sunny day adding to the clarity of the views. The members then descended in an easterly direction to a small carpark on the Slievenaman Road. One mountain conquered and six to go, the ramblers set out along the track that took them on an ascent around the northern flank of Ott Mountain to the coll between Slieve Lough Shannagh and Carn Mountain. Meeting the Mourne Wall at this point and following it south west to the summit of Carn Mountain(588m). The group again had some amazing views into the heart of the Silent Valley and their next objective Slieve Muck with it steep, craggy eastern face.From the summit of Carn the group followed the wall due west, dropping into a boggy coll before veering round to the south to begin the long, gradual ascent of Slieve Muck. The members had time to enjoy the ever-expanding views of the high Mournes, SlieveDonard,Commedagh, Binnian,Bearnagh and the Brandy Pad. At the top of Slieve Muck there was a lunch break, at the junction of the Mourne and Batts Wall. A nearby triangulation piller
(674) is the eighth summit in the Mournes, and the views are again dramatic. The members meet another group of ramblers the Spartan Red Sox out on a similar walk.
Continuing on their way the West Tyrone Ramblers crossed the wall using the stile and followed the wall west. The slope soon steepens until it reaches the B27 road again, at this point there was the opportunity for members to cut short the day and return to the cars. The weather conditions perfect and the members keen to continue, they crossed the road and continued to follow the wall up the northeast shoulder of Pigeon Rock mountain.(534m), called after the rock pigeons which favoured it.
Leaving the small summit cairn behind and the Wall the group went northwest towards the summit of Cock Mountain, with its cluster of rock outcrops. Descending the group enjoyed the fine views down the Rocky River valley towards Hilltown, following a faintly worn path to the coll between Pigeon and Cock. Another break for something to eat was welcome, also a time to reflex on the fabulous views and prepare for the final two ascents of the day.
The group began the climb towards the summit of Cock Mountain(505m) in brilliant sunshine, blue skies and the dazzling passing white clouds. The top of Cock is marked by slabs of exposed rocks, a cairn and great views across the summit tors of Hen Mountain below. Resting for a time on the summit to enjoy the achievement, looking all around at the circuit walk and ahead to the finish, with the carpark in view the members gradually began the descend to the subsidiary summit of Slievnamiskan.Continuing down more steeply, due north towards the rocky course of the River Bann as it flows through Splega Pass. The group cross the river on the footbridge and then up the steep rocky slope to the Hilltown-Kilkeel road.
Turning right and following the road uphill for about a kilometre to return to the carpark and the finish. The walk had been 8 miles, in 6 hours and an ascent of 928metres.
A marvelous day, with amazing views. One member remarked " the best walk they had been on in the Mournes"
Last Sunday 35 of us set off for Co Antrim (hi!) to climb Trostan mountain. The weather was good and the sun shone as we ascended to the top of Trostan. From there we looked across to the Mull of Kintyre (damn Paul McCartney) and farther up the coast we could see the Western Highlands. Looking southwards on our own little island we could see the Mountains of Mourne and westwards the Sperrins.
We did not see England but we probably didn't try very hard to see it. I don't know why. (Editor Note-that's not exactly how i remember it. We all admired England and talked of visiting it for our 25th celebrations next year)
From Trostan we went to the summit of Slieveanee enjoying a much needed rain shower on the way. From there we headed back down the mountain to our luxury hired coach which took us to the hotel for tea and coffee and buns and biscuits followed by lashings of beer and spirits. (Certainly don't remember that)
What a great day out!
A group of 20 West Tyrone Ramblers left Omagh
to travel to the village of Grange Co. Sligo to begin their Saturday walk.
Parking their cars near the Armada Monument. The walk began with a visit to the
nearby Monument, commemorating the 1588 Armada of 130 ships that left Lisbon to
invade England, after being replused and storms the ships fled for home via
Scotland and Ireland,only 80 ships returned, three ships driven aground near
The ramblers proceeded along the road to the strand, on reaching the parking area for surfers the group followed a track along the back of the sand dunes for 7 kms. The track followed the high tide mark, with spectatular views of the Benbulbin and the Dartry Mountains to their left. The tide was well out and the walkers reached Conors Island, for the planned lunch break. Eating lunch in brilliant sunshine looking towards Mullaghmore and Classiebawn Castle prominent on the skyline.
After the rest it was time to begin the
return journey, walking over the sand dunes to the Atlantic shore. The ramblers
were confronted with a natural stone breakwater of white boulders, an awesome
sight, contrasting with the yellow strand,blue of the Altantic and green
dunescape covered in wild flowers,in particuler the blue of the Hare Bell. A
truly memorable vista.
The walk continued along the strand back to the Lifeguard Station, members taking the opportunity to off boots and walk the sea edge. Again there were fabuloues views across Doegal Bay to Sleive League, St Johns Light house, Barnes Gap and the Blue Stacks. After walking 14km, in beautiful sunny weather with memorable views, the ramblers returned to theirs cars and stopped off in Grange for tea, coffee and scones on the way home.
Sunday July 20th saw approx 20 ramblers tackle Arroo mountain in the Dartry range. It was a ramble that had a bit of everything. Parking just outside the Village of Kinlough in the County of Leitrim they were soon on a well defined lane going. Once it had petered out they took different approaches crossing a stream and following it uphill as it forms an obvious and deep gully. They continued up to the high bank to the gully's end and then along a fence before crossing over a stile. They then picked up a small but obvious gully in the hillside and follow it up to, and then through, an eroded area of peat hags . On the ascent they had good views of Mullaghmore. After ascending the crest the ramblers went along the broad flat top to the trig pillar and a substantial cairn . It was here that they took lunch with fine views North East over Lough Melvin and North to the Bluestacks. To the West Truskmore, the highest of the Dartry Mountains, could be seen clearly with its RTE transmitter. Taking a different route back (pictured at the top) the ramblers completed over eight miles before retreating to Earley's in Kinlough for welcome refreshments.
Walking Weekend, 23 - 25 May, Co Mayo
Glenariff, Antrim Glens
Sl Binnian Mourne Mts
Bragan Walk, Co Monaghan: [Saturday 3 May 2014]
Curraghchosaly, Sperrin Mts.