Walk this way

Pictured at the launch of the festival are Josefin Koehler, Asleigh Moss (council), Eamon Dolan, Lorca McBride (Far an Wild), Cllr Kieran McGuire and Gordon Speer.

Experienced and novice walkers alike are being urged to register now for the North West’s most popular hiking event when the 2018 Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival returns in September.

The well-established trek into the local hinterland will be held on Saturday and Sunday, September 22 and 23 and will feature a number of new routes that will explore the nature and history of the area.

The event, organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council, in conjunction with local adventure company Far and Wild will host a total of six walks led by professional walking guides.

Mayor at council, John Boyle noted that every level of walker is catered for in the programme which includes family friendly strolls, moderate treks and challenging hill walks.

“I am delighted to see the return of this popular event where everyone from the most novice of walkers to experienced hikers are catered for,” he said.

“It is an ideal opportunity for people to get off the beaten track and discover the majesty of our local landscape and it plays a key role in developing and promoting our area as a walking destination.

“I am particularly pleased that the organisers have developed a number of new routes this year such as the ‘Beyond Borders’ walk in Killeter and ‘The Bright and Beautiful Walk’ which will celebrate the 200th anniversary of famous hymn writer Mrs CF Alexander.”

In a change from previous years, the festival will begin at theKilleter Heritage Centre on Saturday with the challenging ‘Beyond Borders’ walk at 9am which will take in much of the border hinterland that Tyrone shares with Donegal and Fermanagh.

One hour later at 10am the ‘Local and Neolithic Walk’, rated as ‘moderate’, will take in a range of interesting sites around the townland from the period when Ireland was settled by its first agrarian inhabitants.

Finally on Saturday, ‘The Bright and Beautiful Walk’ will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mrs CF Alexander and is named after her most famous work ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’.

Mrs Alexander lived in Killeter from 1850-55 while her husband was curate in St Bestius Church of Ireland and the four churches in the area have come together to create four community gardens in their grounds which are all included on this ‘moderate’ walking route which will leave the Heritage Centre at 12.30pm.

On Sunday the action moves to the Sperrins and the picturesque village of Plumbridge where three more walks will leave from Watt’s Bar on the town’s Main Street.

The ‘Jewel in the Crown of the IAT’ at 9am is a challenging route that will explore Sawel Mountain – a peak that is visible from counties as far flung as Down and is the highest mountain along the route of the International Appalachian Trail.

Finally the family friendly ‘Vinegar Hill Charity Walk’ in aid of Rural Support sets off from Watt’s Bar at 1pm and will be guided by local walkers and walking enthusiasts who will provide some appetising home grown hospitality along the way.

• Registration for the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival is open now at

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