Hikes to suit all levels and interests as Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival returns

THE Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival is looking forward to welcoming the public back to Plumbridge and Killeter this September with a varied weekend of walks incorporating history, photography and nature.

The Festival, hosted by Derry and Strabane District Council in partnership with Far and Wild, will feature a trio of walks leaving from the two venues on the weekend of Saturday, September 17 and Sunday 18.

Mayor of Derry and Strabane, councillor Sandra Duffy, officially launched the event this week where she encouraged walkers of all levels to access the programme and get involved and sample the warm hospitality of the local community.

“I’m delighted to see the return of the North West’s most popular hiking event with a fascinating and varied programme that has something to suit all levels and interests,” she said.

“The Festival is well known for the warmth of the welcome in Plumbridge and Killeter and is a real social event with hospitality before and after each walk and live entertainment on both days.

“It’s a great opportunity to get out there and explore the local hinterland in the company of other walkers with the assistance of the professional festival guides who will impart their knowledge of the local landscape.

“Developing our local hiking trails and establishing ourselves as a walking destination is part of council’s wider tourism strategy and this event plays a key role in that by attracting visitors from outside the council area to experience our stunning landscape.”

This year’s festival is part of the Sperrins Partnership between Derry and Strabane Council and the Councils of Omagh and Fermanagh, Mid Ulster and Causeway Coast and Glens where each authority will host their own walking event.

The local programme for Plumbridge has walks rated as easy, moderate and challenging and begins with ‘Foraging your path to Health’ - a 6k hike around the Balix Boardwalk and Loop with a foraging expert.

The Moderate 10k Bog Dreams walk at Craignamaddy Loop will explore the history of Ireland’s glacial past with a local expert on bog-land habitats before the Challenging Saints and Sinners Walk examines the importance of Badoney in the foundation of the early christian church in Ireland.

Sunday in Killeter begins with a 4k loop walk around the scenic Leitrim Hill which will focus on showing walkers how to photograph landscapes before the 8k Song of the Salmon hike from Kelly’s Bridge to Carry Mouth exploring the spawning ground of the fish in the River Derg.

The festival concludes with the challenging 11k Walking off the Edge of the Map which will take in a number of historical sites in the countryside on the border between Tyrone and Donegal.

Enjoy the vast range of hospitality on offer in both Plumbridge and Killeter which will include tea, coffee and homemade scones and tray bakes, after the walks you can sit back, relax and dry your socks off in front open turf fires and enjoy live traditional music, dance and old style activities.

Registration for the festival is open now at sperrinskilleterwalking.com/ where full details of each walk, priced at £5 each, are available.

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