Sometimes I think I could name this page “Abandoned Northern Ireland” given that so many places we visit we seem to see so few people around, and The Sperrins area certainly was one of the quietest places we’ve been. Its definitely worth the drive away from the more well known places however, as its just as beautiful as similar areas like The Mournes. Within a few miles you will find pretty villages, lakes, glens, forests, and rivers, and all are very picturesque. Heres a few examples of a small area of The Sperrins.
GOLES STONE ROW
The Goles Alignment/Stone Row is situated on the B47 between Plumbridge and Draperstown and like many of these ancient monuments theyre sitting right beside someones house! Dont worry though, just respectfully walk along the left hand side of the fence (into the garden) and have a look at the stones.
The stones are thought to have lined up with a hollow in a nearby mountain to observe the rising of the moon.
The sign there needed some cleaning, next time I will bring a scrubbing brush 😀
Pretty cool that these have sat here for anything up to 4,500yrs. So if youre passing by stop and say hello.
GORTIN FOREST & LAKES
Further along the road, after passing through Plumbridge village (which is very nice) youll see the road signs for Gortin Forest Park. On the day we arrived (a Saturday in late May) the office there (where you pay your money for entry) wasnt open, in fact it didnt look as if it had been open for quite some time (moss was growing on the windows) and in place of this was a ticket machine that we didnt have any change for. We had driven something like 60 miles though so we werent about to turn back, so we just drove on into the carpark and had a look around.
Near the carpark is a big wooden cabin which looked kind of deserted and inside it still had Christmas decorations up. Weird! Some ducks passed by to say hello.
The area was really tranquil however, and it was obvious some work was taking place there as this big wooden exhibit/climbing frame was being built but it was fenced off and not open yet. We decided then to do the 5KM drive around the forest in our car to explore.
As you can (just about) see on the first picture, we soon saw a deer. In fact we saw 6 more before we left but you really need to be quick to catch them on camera. Gortin is actually quite rare in that you can drive you car around the forest. This doesn’t normally happen here and it was great being able to do this. Some of the road isnt in great condition however but its certainly easy to do in any type of car. Once up higher there are great views to be had and places to stop off and enjoy them.
After driving through Gortin forest leave the park and follow the signs for the lakes.
There are two lakes to see with nice walks around them, picnic tables, and toilet facilities. Very peaceful with only the birds for company.
We certainly want to explore more of the The Sperrins area next time and will book some accommodation in the area to do this. Definitely a recommendation from us for a part of Northern Ireland that doesn’t get so many visitors.