Lough Fea: It's the snowiest place in the UK... so we just had to have a look
Intrepid reporter Donna Deeney trudges to Lough Fea to find out if it’s really as wintry as they say
Life as a reporter presents many challenges. It’s one of the things I love most about the job, and Tuesday proved to be quite the challenge indeed.
“We want you to go to the snowiest place in the UK — a place called Lough Fea about four miles on the far side of Draperstown,” my editor said.
Based in the North West office in Londonderry, which has bizarrely escaped all the snow, I was a bit sceptical about just how much I would find in an area that’s not so far away.
Never one to turn down the chance for a bit of an adventure, though, I set off with our photographer, Glen.
Lough Fea copped an incredible 30cm of snow last Friday and another 21cm on Monday, giving it by far the heaviest falls in the UK.
It’s not clear why it gets so much snow, for while it’s up in the Sperrin Mountains, theoretically, the lough should be warmer than the surrounding area. So much for theories.
Almost an hour into the journey, there was still little sign of snow, let alone a proverbial winter wonderland, and my level of scepticism was rapidly rising. But, turning off the main road with just four miles left until I reached my destination, it all dramatically altered.
Gradually, as our car ascended into the Sperrins, the picture outside the windscreen changed and all that could be seen was snow-covered trees and fields. Amazingly, the tiny winding road I was driving on was clear.
I pulled into a car park where my long years of driving were tested as the thick snow had been compressed by other people who had come to this isolated spot before me to take in the wintry view.
Lough Fea is a quiet and isolated place on the best of days, but the mists that rose up from the lake made it look like something from mythical Avalon.
Looking out I almost expected to see mystic maids rising to the surface.
The acres of surrounding snow blanketed all sound so that you could be forgiven for thinking it was the land that time forgot.
It seemed almost sacrilegious to speak. It was truly beautiful.
All around there was little evidence of human activity, so, imagining ourselves as intrepid explorers, we set forth.
Taking tentative steps along what I guessed was a footpath that led down to the lake, all seemed to be going well as, for once, I had appropriate footwear and the grips on my boots were holding fast.
But just a small deviation and suddenly I sank into the soft snow and just about managed to stay upright.
It is incredible that, having just left Derry where the green fields abounded an hour earlier, I was literally knee-deep in the white stuff and in danger of developing snow-blindness.
What really amazed me was that Glen and I were not the only people up at the lough.
Trevor and Louise Ferguson were there with their two tiny children — 16-month-old Alexis and baby Daisy, who was just 11 weeks-old.
I stopped to ask what madness had brought them to the lough on such a cold day.
“We wanted to build a snowman and there isn't any snow down the road where we live,” Louise explained.
‘As good a reason as any, I suppose,’ I thought as I hauled my now frozen feet out of the depths and made my way gratefully back to the relative warmth of my car. Then it was back to the office to await my next challenging assignment.