Enjoy a journey of exploration through the rich and hidden heritage of the Sperrins This driving route of 90 miles takes you through dramatic river corridors, wooded glens and spectacular hillscapes and valleys, Your journey will bring you through landscapes and geological features which were millions of years in the making. The archaeological sites which are woven into this ancient landscape in turn have a history which stretches back several thousand years. When exploring the Central Sperrins remember not to hurry and savour a route which has taken time to evolve.
Why not sample one of the other three scenic driving routes where you can explore the cultural and built heritage of the South Sperrins, enjoy the breath-taking views of the North Sperrins, or discover the hidden beauty of the Eastern Sperrins.
1 - Let the Dance Begin Sculpture/Ambrose The Wishing “Pig”
Dance with the “Tinnies”- 5 musical and dancing sculptural figures measuring some
18 feet in height; or spend a moment of reflection with Strabane’s very own wishing pig “Ambrose” - called after a character from one of the books of Strabane’s most famous literary sons- Flann O’Brien.
2- Strabane’s American Connections
The impact of Strabane’s emigrants in the development of America is legendary. Famous sons include John Dunlap-printer of ‘The American Declaration Of Independence’; James Wilson - grandfather of Woodrow, one of the United States’ most famous presidents; and Sir Guy Carleton who successfully challenged an invasion of Canada by the American Colonies in1776.Check out events at Gray Printers and visit the nearby Wilson Ancestral Home.
3- Sion Mills Village
A pleasant tree lined industrial village rich in architectural heritage. The village’s plentiful water resource, which once sustained a thriving linen industry, now features as an idyllic riverside walk. Excellent game angling is also available on the River Mourne.
4- Stewart Castle, Newtownstewart
This plantation building suffered severe damage during the 1641 insurrection and then in 1689 during King James’ return from the Siege of Derry. A visit to the nearby ruins of the stronghold of Harry Avery O’ Neill is also recommended.
Gortin is a small picturesque village nestling in the Owenkillew river valley. The village is an ideal starting point for exploring the surrounding hills and glens by bike or on foot, as well as offering welcoming hostelries to unwind after a day’s exercise.
The site on the summit of Mullaghcarn is a place with great religious importance, and most probably an ancient burial site.
7- Loughmacrory Megalithic Wedge Tomb
is a burial chamber which has a front chamber and a doorway marked by three stones. It is believed to have been constructed around 4000 years ago. Enjoy the flora and fauna of “Loughmacrory Lakeside Walk”. This walk is beautiful, unspoilt freshwater environment with the changing views of the lough from around its shoreline.
8- Nally Heritage Centre (St Colmcilles GAA Ground)
The centre encompasses aspects of social, economic, political, sporting and geographical history relating to the local area. This is enhanced with artifacts which span from historic times to the modern da“Social Life of the People” examines the impact of churches, education and housing evolution on the lives of the people as early as the fifth century. “Making a Living” examines the development of the transport infrastructure from earliest times. Farming is also accorded special recognition to acknowledge its dominance for centuries in parish life.
9- An Creagán Centre
is distinctively designed to mirror the archaeological sites of the area and 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.
10- Aghascregabh ‘Ogham’ Stone
This is one of the very few “ogham” stones in Northern Ireland. The marks on the edges of this stone are characters from an alphabet that was used in 5th Century Ireland. Known as ogham, the 25- letter alphabet was supposedly inspired by Ogma, god of eloquence.
11- 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.
12- Loughmacrory Wedge Tomb
On route sample something of the Sperrins’ prehistoric past with a visit to this ancient burial chamber. The entrance, which faces west, has a double portal arrangement leading to a single burial chamber where it is believed 3 individuals were interred.
13- Donemana Village
A quiet country village nestling among wooded hillsides and providing an opportunity to sample something of our rural heritage. Take a small detour and visit Barrontop Fun Farm or the Mill Pottery.