Record numbers explore the majesty of Sperrins and Killeter at Walking Festival

Hundreds of people put their hiking boots on and headed into the local countryside at the weekend for the 2018 Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival.

A number of new routes added to the public interest this year including a Brexit themed Beyond Borders walk and The Bright and Beautiful Walk which celebrated the birth of world famous hymn writer and former Killeter resident Mrs CF Alexander.

The festival, hosted by Derry City and Strabane District Council in conjunction with adventure specialists Far and Wild, hosted a total of six walks over the two days while hospitality and entertainment was laid on by local people in both Killeter and Plumbridge.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor John Boyle, congratulated everyone involved in another successful event.

“The Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival has developed a reputation as one of the best walking events in the country and that is down to the close working relationship between Council, Far and Wild and the local community in Killeter and Plumbridge,” he said.

“The event offers a wide variety of terrains and distances to suit all levels and interests and the welcome laid on by the vast network of local volunteers with entertainment and hospitality is second to none.

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

Among the highlights of this year’s event was the Local and Neolithic Walk on Saturday morning that explored a range of interesting Neolithic sites and monuments that can be encountered in the landscape around the town land of Killeter from Crilly’s Hill to Seegronan.

On Sunday the action moved on to Plumbridge where the challenging Jewel in the Crown of the IAT took a ramble up Sawel Mountain, the highest mountain along the route of the International Appalachian Trail.

The Craignamaddy Nature Walk explored the local flora and fauna around the Glenelly and Owenkillew valleys before the final event of the festival was a hike up Vinegar Hill in aid of the Rural Support charity.

Festival and Events Officer at Derry City and Strabane District Council, Ashleigh Devine, said organisers were delighted with the response of local people and visitors to this year’s event.

“We experienced record numbers this year with a number of the events selling out,” she revealed. “It is an event that people return to year on year because of the wide variety of walks and topics on offer and the insightful guides who lead the walks.

“We took the decision to move the Saturday walks to Killeter this year to coincide with the Killeter Fair and there was a brilliant atmosphere around Killeter and Plumbridge as walkers stayed on until the evening to enjoy the family entertainment and music on offer.”

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