sperrins scenic driving route guide gets recharged

Pictured at the launch of the Sperrins Scenic Driving Route Guide are (from left to right), Allison O'Keefe, Informations Service Officer, Mid Ulster District Council, George Bradshaw, Tourism Development Manager, Fermanagh & Omagh District Council, Louise McDermott, Sperrins Parternship Project Administrator, Ciara Toner, Sperrins Partnership Project Officer, Causeway Coast & Glens Council, Philip McShane, Rural Tourism Officer, Derry City & Strabane District Council and Councillor Dan Kelly, Councillor Dan Kelly, Chair of the Sperrins Partnership Board.

The new attractive Sperrins Scenic Driving Routes guide includes up to date information on new experiences and places of interest that are on offer in abundance across the wild and mostly undiscovered Sperrins.

The Sperrins Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is located in the west of Northern Ireland. The wider Sperrins area stretches from the Donegal border in the west, to Lough Neagh in the east and to the Atlantic shores in the north. This natural asset of stunning mountain range mixed with the unspoilt landscape of winding rivers, sun swept valleys and scenic lakes all translate into a region recognised as one of the most idyllic geographical areas of rural Ireland and one that begs to be discovered.

There are four signposted scenic driving routes on offer in the Sperrins area; Central, South, East and North Sperrins Scenic Routes. Each route connects accommodation, visitor services, tourist attractions and scenic viewpoints, offering the perfect way to explore this unique region while offering an opportunity to become immersed in an environment millions of years in the making and steeped in myth and legend.

Encouraging everyone “to embrace the adventure,” Chair of the Sperrins Partnership, Councillor Dan Kelly said; “the Sperrins Scenic Driving Routes loop through a stunning Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. They are a range of road trips like no other, and the new guide offers tips and advice on how to make the most of the places of interest, activities and experiences scattered throughout the region.

These routes provide the perfect opportunity for people to get out and unwind, to breathe deep and savour the beauty and serenity of these mythical and mystical mountains, the largest upland area in Ireland. It is no surprise, and a fitting tribute, that these beautiful scenic routes though the Sperrins were selected by National Geographic Magazine to feature in their top 101 list of The World’s Most Scenic Drives.”

The Sperrins Scenic Driving Routes guide is available at a number of Visitor Information Centres across the Sperrins including: Strule Arts Centre, Omagh; Magherafelt Visitor Information Centre (Bridewell); The Burnavon Arts and Culture Centre, Cookstown; The Alley Theatre Arts and Conference Centre, Strabane and Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, Limavady as well as digital format here https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/67220601/sperrin-routes-2022.

For further information on the Sperrins Partnership and the Sperrins Scenic Driving Routes please visit www.sperrinspartnershipproject.com #VisitSperrins

 

Sperrins Regional Outdoor activity development officer 

Regional Outdoor Activity Development Officer

Location: Hybrid working

Hours: 37

Salary: £30,000

Contract: Fixed term contract until the end of September 2026

Do you want to work for an organisation that makes a difference, every single day, to people from all walks of life? We are looking for someone who can help us to improve opportunities for people who live in the Sperrins area and enable them to achieve their potential through outdoor activities.

About Us

The Outdoor Partnership is a charity that works to support the people of Wales and across the rest of the UK to take up outdoor activities as a life-long pursuit. Our vision is to “Enhance people’s lives through outdoor activity”

Our vision means enhancing:

  • People’s physical and mental health and wellbeing,
  • The economic return (including employment),
  • The social value through outdoor activity,
  • Grassroots participation in activities such as walking, cycling, climbing, canoeing, paddleboarding, sailing, mountain biking, and many more

About the role

The role is a fixed term role until the end of September, 2026. The Outdoor Partnership has a hybrid working policy, allowing the post holder to work between their home and an office in Sperrins.

In this role you will:

  • Initiate and assist the community in the formation of sustainable outdoor activity clubs and groups
  • Establish and promote pathways to employment programmes for local people in the outdoor sector
  • Offer advice and information to club volunteers and external organisations
  • Organise relevant training opportunities for volunteers
  • Work closely with key partners to facilitate, promote and implement sustainable and inclusive outdoor activity programmes

About you:

To do this role you will need:

  • Knowledge and experience of successfully obtaining funding
  • Experience of project work, operational, developmental and/or financial planning
  • To be able to prepare reports, accumulate data and complete grant application forms
  • Strong IT skills, especially Outlook, Word, Excel and Database
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • A clear commitment to working together as part of a team
  • A clear commitment to equality and diversity
  • A willingness to work flexibly to fulfil the requirements of the role
  • Great attention to detail
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills

The full job description and person specification can be seen on our company website 

What we offer:

  • 35 days annual leave inclusive of bank holidays
  • Hybrid working
  • Family-friendly policies that provide for flexible working
  • Career and development opportunities, including support to gain further qualifications
  • Support for mental health and wellbeing, including occupational health and counselling support services
  • A laptop and mobile phone
  • Access to the cycle to work scheme

We are especially passionate about being inclusive and believe that as an organisation we benefit from the variety of thinking, approach and skills that diversity can bring. We value the differences that people bring from all backgrounds and communities. So, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, disability, social status or religious beliefs, we would love to hear from you.

If you feel you have the necessary skills and experience to be great in this role, please send your CV and a covering letter to hr@outdoorpartnership.co.uk

Closing date: November 30th, 2022

Interview date: December 15th, 2022

 

GET YOUR WALKING BOOTS READY AND DISCOVER THE BEAUTY OF THE SPERRINS - 2nd August 2022

l-r: Cllr Dan Kelly (Chair of The Sperrins Partnership), Louise McDermott (Derry City and Strabane District Council), Liz Steele (Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council), Ciara Toner (Sperrins Partnership Project Officer), Mary McKeown (Mid Ulster District Council) and George Bradshaw (Fermanagh and Omagh District Council).

 

Get your walking boots ready for the first Sperrins Walking Programme taking place September 2022 and March 2023 across Sperrin Area of Outstanding Natural beauty (AONB).

The programme, developed and delivered by The Sperrins Partnership and outdoor experts Far and Wild, is designed to help walkers of all abilities to enjoy this beautiful landscape as well as promoting health, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Sperrins Walking participants will not only enjoy discovering a destination filled with unique tourism experiences, but a great choice of walks ranging from leisurely strolls to more demanding longer walks, all in small groups, guided by experienced leaders.

Sperrins Walking Programme and dates are:

  • Causeway Coast & Glens 3/4 September 2022: Explore the natural and human history in the Northern Sperrins with two challenging walks looking at late Bronze Age to current day heritage. Walks include Banagher Dam and Donald’s Hill to Sconce Fort.
  • Derry City & Strabane 17/18 September 2022: Sperrins & Killeter features a wide variety of walks including Balix Boardwalk and Loop, Craignamaddy Loop, Carnanelly- Oughtmore- Goles, Leitrim Hill, Derg Lodge to the Derg River, Carrickaholten- Golandun McHugh-Causeway.
  • Mid Ulster 24/25 September 2022: In co-operation with Embrace Toursand local guides, the heartland of Mid-Ulster offers some exciting and significant walking routes. Walks include Glenaruddagh Mt, Davagh Forest, Moydamlaght Forest to Glenshane Pass over Mullaghmore, Moydamlaght Forest looped walk to Eagle’s Rock.
  • Fermanagh & Omagh 25/26 March 2023: One of the first programmed walks for the 2023. Walks include Gortin Lakes, Mullaghcarn, Tattynure to Bessy Bell, Sloughan Glen & Bollaght Mt.

Chair of The Sperrins Partnership, Councillor Dan Kelly said:
“We are very pleased to announce the inaugural Sperrins Walking Programme of events. This is the first time the 4 Councils that make up the Sperrins Partnership have come together to deliver a range of walks for all abilities to enjoy throughout the beautiful Sperrin Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) , while also promoting health, physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. The Sperrins Walking Programme encourages everyone to get out and get active while at the same time affording participants the opportunity to absorb the beauty of one of the most spectacular and undiscovered locations in the island of Ireland. I would encourage everyone to use this opportunity to get out, get active and enjoy our wonderful countryside.”

Lawrence McBride from Far and Wild commented:
"The Sperrins is a diverse upland environment and superb location for walking in the heart of historic Ulster. It is also a living and working landscape, where people dwell and earn their livelihoods, and have done since neolithic times. This makes it a fascinating destination for visiting and local walkers alike, replete with natural and human heritage for over 8,000 years. We are delighted to be back leading walks across 4 areas of the greater Sperrins hills, and engaging local communities and other excellent walk leaders to help deliver an insightful and fulfilling program."

For further information on the Sperrins Walking programme and to book your place visit https://farandwild.org/land/or https://www.sperrinspartnershipproject.com/sperrins-walking-festival/


Launch of self-guided walking map of historic Strabane landmarks - 7th July 2022

l-r Philip McShane (Rural tourism officer DSDC), Pat McGuigan (Strabane Historical Society), Eddie O'Kane (S.H.S.), Michael Kennedy (S.H.S.), Mayor Sandra Duffy, Johnny Dooher (S.H.S.), Aeidin McCarter (Head of Culture DSDC), Odhran Dunne (Visit Derry), and Ciara Toner (Sperrins Partnership Project Officer)

 

An illustrated  map encouraging the public to take a self-guided walking tour to explore Strabane’s Town Heritage was launched today by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Sandra Duffy.

The Strabane Heritage Trail is a self-guided walking tour of approximately 3.5 miles/5.5 kilometres that displays and celebrates the town’s rich heritage and history. The map is aimed at encouraging  the public to step outside and experience some of the delights of the town that are right on their doorstep.

Walkers are invited to start their journey of discovery from Railway Street at the Alley Arts and Conference Centre, and follow the town’s historic story by visiting over 28 locations of local interest that spans through the centuries right through to modern times. They will be able to see at first-hand how the town has evolved from its early settlement years to its current form.

The map covers a wider range of themes including the town’s industrial heritage such as the important role Strabane played in the local shirt making industry;  as well as its ancestral heritage and the many famous names associated with the town including Cecil Frances Alexander. It also celebrates and features recent historic additions such as the Let the Dance Begin which was installed to celebrate the new millennium.

It is hoped the map will encourage locals and visitors alike to take their own journey of discovery of the town and find out more about the local heritage and history and celebrate Strabane’s unique transition and development through the centuries.

Speaking at the launch, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Cllr Sandra Duffy said she was very impressed with the map and the huge number of interesting historic places of interest featured in the publication. Extending her thanks to everyone associated with the map, the Mayor said she was confident it would be well utilised and enjoyed by the local community and tourists.

She commented: “I like the way in which the map not only encompasses the historic delights of Strabane but really invites people to embark on their own journey of discovery and exploration of the town by encouraging them to visit local landmarks and places of interest to find out more. The heritage map really whets your appetite to find out more detail about each of the 28 locations listed on the map. It encourages people to drop into the local library or join a local history society and also makes reference to the extensive number of publications available that give more detailed information and insight into the heritage and history of Strabane. A lot of research, commitment and hard work has gone into getting the map together and I sincerely hope that it will be utilised by locals and visitors with an interest in finding out more about Strabane’s unique heritage and history.”

Aeidin McCarter, Head of Tourism Arts & Culture, with Derry City and Strabane District Council.  He explained that the Strabane Town Heritage Trail Map is produced by Derry City and Strabane District Council, with assistance from the Strabane History and Heritage Advisory Group consisting of officers from various Council directorates and local historians including members of the Strabane History Society.

He said: “ We hope this map will encourage the public to embark on a self-guided walking tour of Strabane and that they will find it interesting and engaging. We want the map to entice the public to go on their own explorative journey and find out more about the town and to visit the many places of interest that are included such as the recently opened  museum at the Church of the Immaculate Conception , the  Workhouse building which houses the Council Offices on Derry Road, the Abercorn Square departure sculpture and the Patrick Street graveyard.”

The map is available at Strabane Visitor Information Centre, the Strabane Community Library and Visit Derry offices. Trail users are advised to exercise caution when crossing roads and to use pedestrian crossing points where available. They are advised that only some of the locations on the map have full access, others are accessible during specific opening hours, by appointment or with the owner’s permission. For further information on the map and its development contact Philip McShane, Rural Tourism Officer, with Derry City and Strabane District Council.  The map can also be downloaded here.


Green Space Dark Skies - 9th July 2022

On Saturday 25th June we gathered on land & water at Gortin Lakes to celebrate the stunning landscape of the Sperrin AONB.

This Green Space Dark Skies event was supported by Visit Sperrins & Fermanagh and Omagh District Council where Lumenators (participants) carried a specially designed low impact light to create patterns in the landscape which was captured on film.  The creative film showcasing the stunning Gortin Lakes can be viewed here.

A big thank you at all participants and everyone who made it happen icluuding Dylan Quinn, Urban Motion, Erne Paddlers, OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory, An Creagán, Wild Women, Earth Mama's and Gortin Dippers.  


Giants arriving ahead of Sperrin Sculpture Trail launch - 1st June 2022

Funders for the new Sperrins Sculpture Trail project were recently given an exclusive preview of the giant steps taken to date towards progressing with this innovative tourism project that is expected to be unveiled later this year.

Work is at an advanced stage at three site locations in the Sperrins in preparation for the arrival of the Giants, a trio of interrelated and unique art pieces being created by world acclaimed artist Thomas Dambo.

The art pieces are part of the Sperrins Sculpture Trail being delivered by Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council and Mid Ulster District Council, in this popular area of natural, unspoilt beauty in an effort to drive rural tourism and investment in the local natural and built heritage.

The Sperrins Sculpture Trail is delivered through the Rural Tourism Scheme as part of the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 with funding support of over £1.32m from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) with match funding totalling £568k from the partner Councils.

Work is at an advanced stage at all three of the sites and this week funders, partners and community representatives were given an update on site of the work carried out to date ahead of the arrival of the giants and the Sculpture Trail ‘big reveal’ later this year.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Alderman Graham Warke visited the Sperrin site and said he was impressed with the progress to date.

He said: “I am delighted to see this giant step forward in this hugely important tourism project for the Sperrins that will bring much needed investment to the region and encourage visitors to our rural heartlands, whilst preserving the natural assets for our rural communities.”

Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Paul McLean was impressed with the progress made at the Davagh site, saying:

“The sculpture that is near completion at this site is very impressive to see and ties in perfectly with its proximity to OM Dark Sky Park and Observatory. Thomas Dambo’s work is internationally renowned and has the potential to encourage national and international visitors to the Sperrins, bringing additional spend and investment to our area. Local people can also enjoy having access to the works right on their doorstep.”

Speaking about the project Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Errol Thompson said; “I believe that the Sperrins Sculpture Trail will be huge attractor to Omagh and the Sperrins for people of all ages to experiences and for generations to come. This investment will help further our ambition to support our rural economies and make the Sperrins a destination of choice for adventure tourism for visitors and tourists from near and far.

Outdoor activities have become an even bigger part of all of our lives over the past two years. Through forging links with our neighbouring councils, this project showcases how we are developing and enhancing the fantastic natural amenities in the Sperrins, so more and more people can access and enjoy them.”

Rural Affairs Minister, Edwin Poots MLA said: “These are exciting and unique projects for Northern Ireland and will be among the ‘must see visitor’ attractions. I am delighted that my Department has part-funded just over £1.32m toward the total project costs of £1.7m under the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 Rural Tourism Scheme.”

Minister Poots continued: “Tourism is one of the key economic sectors for Northern Ireland providing jobs and livelihoods and supporting many local businesses, including many in rural areas. These striking sculptures will attract additional visitors to rural Northern Ireland and provide a much needed boost to the local economy.”

Artist Thomas Dambo said: "It's been a true delight to work in the hills of Sperrins, though for the three giants: Nowanois, Ceoldán and Darach it has been a rather adventurous conception and journey through rain, hail, fog, low hanging clouds, and a wind like no other. Delving into Irish history has been an eyeopener. Maybe the solution to the challenges we face today, can be found in the ancient wisdom of balance."

The three locations are at Cranagh (Derry City and Strabane District Council area); at Mullaghcarn (Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area) and at Davagh Forest (Mid Ulster District Council area).

The Cranagh site is the most advanced and almost nearing completion, with Davagh Forest also nearing completion while works are ongoing at the Mullaghcarn site.

Last year, world renowned, Copenhagen based artist Thomas Dambo and the design and construction consultancy team McGurk Architects were appointed to take forward the development of this hugely exciting and innovative project that will not only showcase the epic stories associated with the Sperrins, the inspirational nature of the landscape but also the giant spirit and welcome of its people.

The sense of curiosity and suspense ahead of the arrival of the Giants is creating a real sense of anticipation and inquisitiveness among the local communities in the Sperrins.

Details of the official launch and big reveal are expected to be announced later in the summer.

For more information, please visit: https://sperrinspartnershipproject.com/sperrins-trail


GREEN SPACE DARK SKIES – SPERRIN AONB – 25TH JUNE 2022

Green Space Dark Skies are looking for Lumenators to join us in celebrating the Sperrins on the evening of Saturday 25th June.

The Sperrin event will be one of 20 taking place in locations of unique natural beauty across the UK. Each event will provide the content for a short film to be broadcast online shortly after the event. Lumenators (participants) will carry a specially designed low impact light to create patterns in the landscape that will be captured on film.

Come on a creative adventure and journey into the landscape. It’s a chance to meet new people and be part of something truly special. You can join alone, with family and friends, or with a group or organisation. It’s free to take part and everyone is welcome, but you do need to book your place in advance. To protect the landscape the exact locations will only be revealed to people who have booked a place to take part.

Book your space to become a Sperrins Lumenator.

Individuals or small groups can book here: Green Space Dark Skies | Events | Sperrin AONB – County Tyrone

Groups can contact: ann@walktheplank.co.uk

Find out more about the project here:

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https://greenspacedarkskies.uk/​

 


Site prep work progresses ahead of A Giant Visitor Experience launch in the Sperrins

Major site preparation work is progressing on the three site locations in the Sperrins that will host the iconic and unique art pieces being created by world acclaimed artist Thomas Dambo that will be unveiled to the public later this year.
 
 

Celebrating the International Appalachian Trail in Causeway Coast and Glens

An event has been held at Gortmore View Point along the stunning Bishop’s Road near Limavady to officially launch the next phase of the International Appalachian Trail Ulster-Ireland.
The initiative to enhance the trail is part of a co-operation project within the Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020 and is part funded by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the European Union. Read more here:​

Omagh & Sperrins Walking Weekend 2022 – 26th & 27th March 2022

The official Omagh & Sperrins Walking Weekend 2022 is taking place on 26th & 27th March 2022 with some magical walks exploring our amazing region.  Walks are for all abilities but with limited availability advance booking is recommended. For further information and to book:


Green Space Dark Skies – Date: July TBC

Sperrin AONB has been identified as one of the Green Space Dark Skies event locations.  From April to September, thousands of people will become Lumenators, carrying low impact lights at National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) across the UK at dusk. The event will give people a truly once in a lifetime experience and the opportunity to reconnect with their natural landscape. Visit here.

To protect these amazing places and to make sure we leave no traces of our time there the exact locations will only be revealed to the people who register to become a Lumenator.  There will be no spectators and number will be limited so only those who sign up to take part will be there in person on the day.

The event Is managed by Green Spaces Dark Skies with support from the Sperrins Partnership. You can find out more about how you can get involved here.