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Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival to explore the history and stories of Glenelly Valley

23 August 2019

The Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival are inviting people to discover some of the vast network of derelict homes in the Glenelly Valley and the stories of the people who lived there when it hosts a ‘Famous Local Characters’ walk on Saturday September 14th.

The 5k trek is aimed at novice hikers and is one of three walks leaving Plumbridge that day as part of the opening day of the two day festival, with Day Two taking place in Killeter.

Walking guide Rose Mary Murphy said the event was the perfect opportunity for people of all ages and fitness levels to try out hiking and learn more about the history of the area.

“The Famous Local Characters walk is a manageable distance of around 5k so it’s a chance for anyone to get involved in the festival and discover some of the beauty and history of the area,” she said.

“The walk is being led by leaders from Glenelly who will point out local landmarks and the site of some of the 300 derelict homes that exist in the valley.

“The guides will bring walkers through the site of some of the homes, telling them some of the background to the dwellings, who lived there and how they came to be empty.”

The walk ties in with the Glenelly Our Home project which Rose Mary coordinates.

The online initiative allows people to share information through Facebook about the social history of the valley by posting images of the houses and trying to identify former owners and their families.

“There’s a growing interest from people who want to trace their family roots and to locate and visit the site of their ancestral home,” she continued.

“It’s a more subtle form of tourism and its very personal, people are much more interested in visiting and taking photographs at the site of a home where their great grandparents lived than they would be to see the ancestral home of someone famous.”

Participants in the walk are also invited to enjoy some local hospitality after the walk with homemade scones, tea and coffee and live music in Watts Bar.

They will also invited to contribute to a collection for Mountain Search and Rescue on the day.

Registration for the Famous Local Characters Walk is at 10.30am with the group setting off at 11am and finishing at around 3.30pm.

The Meeting Point is in Watt's Bar in Plumbridge and transport will be provided from the meeting point to where the walk starts.

The Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival will host three walks in the Sperrins, leaving from Plumbridge, on Saturday September 14th and three walks leaving from Killeter Village on Sunday September 15th.

Walks are rated as easy, moderate and challenging and participants will be required to complete consent/medical forms on the day and they are advised to bring hiking boots, waterproofs, packed lunch and one litre of water.

The Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival is hosted by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Far and Wild for further details of the walks and to register visit www.sperrinskilleterwalking.com.