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Hundreds soak up the scenery and hospitality at Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival

18 September 2017

Plumbridge and Killeter played host to hundreds of visitors over the weekend as record numbers enjoyed the 2017 Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival.

Experienced and novice walkers of all ages ventured into the local countryside for the event that was organised by Derry City and Strabane District Council in conjunction with adventure specialists Far and Wild.

A total of seven walks took place over the two days with four on Saturday around Plumbridge and the Sperrins before the action moved to Killeter on Sunday where walkers were blessed with clear skies and sunshine.

Refreshments and entertainment were laid on at both venues as many walkers availed of the invitation from the community to sample the local hospitality.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Maolíosa McHugh, congratulated everyone involved on making it another weekend to remember for the area.

“The Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival has now firmly established itself as one of the key events on the national walking calendar and I am delighted that so many people again availed of the opportunity to venture into the local countryside,” he said.

“This is very much a community event that is made possible by a close working relationship between the organisers and a network of local volunteers who have a passion for their area.

“Work is well underway to establish our region as a visitor destination for walking enthusiasts and the many visitors who travelled here for the festival will surely have been impressed with the warm welcome and stunning scenery they experienced.”

Among the highlights of this year’s event was the Balix and Beyond 8km Walk, a new route that allowed moderate level walkers to explore a natural heritage site that links into the Murlough, Hollyhill and Legfordrum areas.

Among the walkers at that event were a group of employees from Derry City and Strabane District Council who were supporting local transplant success story Aaron Smyth in promoting organ donation awareness.

In the afternoon, the local community laid on tea, coffee, scones and traditional music and dancing by the local Comhaltas club for walkers as they returned to Plumbridge.

Later that evening a group of 50 youngsters and parents took part in the ‘Bat and Moth Walk’, a 3km hike through the countryside in search of nocturnal wildlife with expert guide Annie Mullan.

On Sunday the action moved to Killeter where experienced local guides impartrf their knowledge about the ecology, history and folklore of this wild and remote part of West Tyrone.As the early morning mist rose, walkers set off o the challenging the International Reach of the Killeter Camino’ walk from Killeter village at 9am to explore the international heritage links of the local area to the Camino de Santiago and the International Appalachian Trail.

Later that morning the Water of Life walk traced the flow of the River Derg and surrounding lakes before the family friendly Pilgrim Trail from Killeter Village to Magherakeel and St Patrick’s Well afforded walkers the chance to explore the old local route to Lough Derg where a host of local wild life were spotted.

The returning walkers enjoyed refreshments and a wide variety of local activities in Killeter including turf cutting demonstrations, horse showing, needlework, story-telling and traditional music.