Nestled in the western foothills of The Sperrins, the Derg River follows an idyllic valley between Castlederg and Newtownstewart. For 30 miles Sperrins Cycle Route 6 circles the valley on its lush, gentle slopes. The area is steeped in industrial and ancient history and this cycle route showcases it all on quiet, well surfaced back roads.
|Nearest Town||Newtownstewart||OS Map||12|
|Route Type||Forest, Hill, Lakeland, Riverside, Woodland||Route Shape||Circular|
|AONB||Other Area||Grid Ref (Start)||H402854|
|Public Roads||On Public Road||Grid Ref (End)||H402854|
Begin in Newtownstewart, a Plantation town with strong Scottish connections, where the Strule and Owenkillew Rivers meet. Follow Route 6 north on the Douglas Road for a short spell before turning right onto the quieter Bunderg Road. Begin cycling with the curves of the Strule River for a few miles. After visiting Douglas Bridge village, branch off right where the Sperrins begin looming large. Luckily the road shies away towards the Swinging Bridge and Sion Mills. Sion Mills, an architectural jewel, was laid out as a model village when the linen industry boomed in Ireland and is in stark contrast to its more traditional neighbouring towns. Local groups and organisations have done an incredible job restoring its unique architecture.
Follow Route 6 carefully as it twists and turns out of Sion Mills and begins to climb Orchard Road. Out of the saddle, a steep climb takes you into County Donegal briefly, before slacking off the pedals and gently freewheeling down into Castlederg. It's a great place to pull in for a break and a walk around the Diamond and Davies Bawn.
Refreshed and revitalised, it's time to hop on the bike and head back along the southern slopes of the Derg Valley. Climbing out of Castlederg, the Donegal Mountains recede to the west as you follow National Route 95 onto Castlebane Road. Down Creevy Road and around Magheralough takes to the Deer Park at Baronscourt Estate. The Estate boasts a golf course, four star accommodation and all manner of countryside activities. Out of the trees and uphill to Harry Avery's impressive 14th Century castle perched on the hill, above the road. From here it's a short spin back into Newtownstewart where you'll have time to sit down with a cuppa and plan out another route through the Sperrins.
This route does not have accessible toilet facilities.
Sperrins Cycle Routes available from www.sustransshop.co.uk
Very nice route. Some directional signs are missing at road junctions.
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