Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Walk of the Week: Errigal Glen Trail

Only an hour’s drive from Belfast, the Sperrins are one of Northern Ireland’s most scenic regions. A rugged pattern of mountains, bogland and inland waters, it is a striking landscape virtually unaffected by the passage of time.

This part of Northern Ireland is steeped in culture and heritage, from mysterious prehistoric sites, such as the Beaghmore Stone Circles, to the plantation towns of Bellaghy, Draperstown and Moneymore.

The Errigal Glen Trail is a waymarked trail in the picturesque Glenullin region, three miles south west of Garvagh. The route follows woodland trail, country roads, forest road and open hillside. Points of interest include Errigal Old Church and Souterrain and Gortnamoyagh Inauguration Stone.

Directions

Errigal Glen Trail is located off the main A29 road. Just south of Garvagh (signposted Glenullin) turn on to Churchtown Road (B64). Follow this road until it joins Temple Road. Turn left and the entrance to Errigal Glen is approximately 300m on the left.

The route is waymarked throughout and follows the fast flowing Agivey River through the steep-sided and well-wooded glen. For safety reasons keep to the waymarked track through the Glen.

Having passed Ballintemple House, exit the Glen on to Churchtown Road, turn left and proceed with care along this road. On reaching the junction at Ballintemple, turn right on to Ballyrogan Road, observing the ancient remains of Errigal Old Church and Souterrain on the left.

Proceed along this road and turn left on to Gortnamoyagh Road before entering Gortnamoyagh Forest on the left. Within the forest section it is possible to visit the inauguration stone known as the Saint’s Track or Shane’s Leap.

From the forest the route crosses open hillside, recently planted with trees, and follows the remnants of an old laneway to join Churchtown Road. Turn right and then left at the next junction on to Temple Road, returning to the starting point at Errigal Bridge.

The backdrop

Errigal Glen, which is home to a wide variety of species of flora and fauna, displays many of the characteristics of a traditional ancient woodland and it is believed that many of the beech trees within it are more than 200 years old.

The Grade II listed Ballintemple House is a fine example of a late 18th Century farmhouse, originally home to the Heyland family, who were among the first of the original Planters in the Province.

Errigal Old Church was founded by St Adamnan in the mid 7th century.

Before the church was built, it is believed that its site may have been used as a pagan ritual site during the Iron Age. The presence of a ballaun stone, souterrain and nearby inauguration stone support this theory.

It is believed Gortnamoyagh Inauguration Stone was used during inauguration ceremonies up until the 16th Century.

The local chieftain or Gaelic ruler stood in the footprints with his spear resting in one of the circular hollows as part of his inauguration ceremony, symbolising his right to follow in the footsteps of his forefathers. It is still possible to stand in the very same spot as our ancestors and imagine that you are undergoing your own inauguration.

Further information

For further information on walking or any other outdoor activity, please contact Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland at, tel: 028 9030 3930 or go online and see walkni.com.

Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (formerly CAAN) in association with Belfast Telegraph has provided this information. Every care has been taken to ensure accuracy of the information. Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland and Belfast Telegraph, however, cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions but where such are brought to our attention, the information for future publications will be amended accordingly.

Walk Name: Errigal Glen Trail.

Area: Sperrins Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Nearest town to start point: Garvagh.

Distance: 2.5 miles/4km.

Time: This circular walk should take approximately one hour to complete.

Terrain: Woodland trail, country roads, forest road and open hillside.

Access Restrictions: The off-road access is by kind permission of the landowner along the waymarked trail only. Please keep to this waymarked trail.

Refreshments: Refreshments are available in in Garvagh.

Publications: A Guide to Glenullin’s Waymarked Trails. You can pick up a copy of this at Coleraine Tourist Information Centre, tel: 028 7034 4273.

Walk Developed By: Coleraine Borough Council with assistance from Sperrins Tourism Limited (through European Funding from SEUPB’s Peace II programme), Environment and Heritage Service and Glenullin and Agivey Conservation and Development Group.

Map: Sheet 8 of Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland Discoverer Series, available from LPSNI Map Shop, Colby House, Stranmillis, Belfast BT9 SBJ, lpsni.gov.uk.

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