Steeped in history and legend, with majestic highlands, lush rivers and rugged valleys, County Tyrone and the Sperrin Mountains is one of Northern Ireland’s most unspoilt and wild areas.
The county is well known for its spectacular countryside, stunning mountain ranges, traffic free wide open spaces and beautiful, largely undiscovered landscapes making Tyrone and the Sperrins ideal for a break in the outdoors, especially in the crisp winter weather.
The region is ideal for those who like to get outside in the fresh air, whether that’s to enjoy a gentle stroll around the Sperrin foothills or a more exhilarating mountain walk. After an invigorating walk there are lots of cosy pubs and restaurants where visitors can enjoy a drink and rest their feet beside a roaring fire. From walking and cycling to more adventurous pursuits, there’s something to suit all interests and abilities.
“The county is a land of mystery and discovery, it has it all,” said Pauline Gormley, NITB’s Destination PR Officer. “You can visit a Neolithic monument set in breath-taking scenery in the morning, immerse yourself in the unforgettable stories of mass emigration in the afternoon before a relaxing meal at an award-winning restaurant in the evening.”
Pauline continued: “The range of activities, outside pursuits and forest walks is irresistible for lovers of the great outdoors and the county also has lots to offer those wanting to combine shopping, pampering and sampling delicious food.
“The arts and culture scene is alive and interesting, full of fascinating places such as the Hill of The O’Neill and Ranfurly House Arts and Visitors Centre and talented artists including Mairead McClean who recently won the MAC Live art title. Famous sons and daughters include professional golfer Darren Clarke, country songstress Philomena Begley and theatre director and dramatist, Brian Friel, whose upbringing in County Tyrone gave them a unique view of the world that made them successful.”
Todds Leap in Dungannon is the ideal day out for outdoor enthusiasts who want to try something that will give them an adrenalin rush and get the blood pumping through their veins. The list of exciting activities is endless and includes archery, clay pigeon shooting, JCB driving, rodeo bull, blindfold driving, climbing wall and off road driving.
Davagh Forest in Cookstown is an untouched rural landscape of rolling hills and sweeping forests. Outdoors enthusiasts will love the mountain biking and walking trails as well as the impressive 16km trail with some challenging rock slab drops. There is even more mountain biking available in the form of a 13km trail around the beautiful grounds of the Blessingbourne Country Estate in Fivemiletown and visitors to the estate can stay at the recently opened quaint ‘Gate Lodge’ cottage.
For people who like to be out on the water Blackwater Canoe Trail is perfect as it allows visitors to enjoy an amazing journey through the stunning countryside of Co. Armagh and Co. Tyrone. The river leads into Lough Neagh and canoeists should keep an eye out for the range of wildlife available to see including kingfishers, otters, herons and owls.
Visitors who like to take it a little bit easier can use their car to explore Co.Tyrone and experience one of the Sperrin’s four scenic driving routes which are included in the National Geographic’s prestigious list of the world’s top 101 scenic drives for 2012. The routes encompass the central, south, east and north areas of the Sperrins and offer the perfect way to explore and uncover this unique region.
Spectacular views are apparent throughout the county and stand out locations include the Owenkillew Valley and Butterlope Glen as well as Pigeon Top Mountain near Omagh. Mullaghcarn which rises above Gortin Glen Forest Park and Bolaght Mountain near Castlederg are renowned for their beauty and Robbers Table outside Omagh is also an excellent off road hill walk with breathtaking views of the Bluestack and High Sperrin Mountain ranges.
Historical Tyrone and Sperrins
Co. Tyrone is brimming with historical sites and information on heritage and tradition. There is nowhere more atmospheric than standing in amongst the Beaghmore Stone Circles which consists of seven stone circles discovered during peat cutting in the 1940’s. Tullyhogue Fort is an area full of historical significance and attracts hundreds of visitors every year and Harry Avery’s Castle in Newtownstewart is a must see for any budding historians. The castle was built around 1320 by a local chieftan of the O’Neill clan but named after Harry Avery. The castle is known for its unusual design as Irish Chieftans of the time rarely built stone castles.
Guests to the county should also visit the Clogherny Wedge Tomb at Plumbridge which is a Scheduled Historic Monument.
Nestled in a quaint and tranquil setting in Omagh is An Creagán which offers a range of facilities and activities for families, couples, individuals and corporate groups. This modern building presents a unique blend of stunning landscapes, wildlife, exciting outdoor activities and family fun. Activities available include walking, cycling, rally driving, music, dance and storytelling.
If travelling near the Moy, The Argory is the perfect destination for an exciting day out over the winter months as visitors can step back in time in this house which was built in 1824 and has not changed since the turn of the century. Alternatively try Lissan House in Omagh which is an enchanting country residence set within a 250 acre demesne of ancient woodland and forestry.
Visitors can learn lots about their history and immerse themselves in the story of Irish emigration at The Ulster American Folk Park inOmagh. The park is a great family day out and has so much to explore from the thatched cottages of Ulster to a full scale emigrant sailing shop to log cabins of the American Frontier.
Stay over and relax
Visitors to the town of Ballygawley should take some time out at Lavender Day Spa which is perfect for a relaxing day out with friends or family and offers a wide range of soothing treatments from facials to massages and reflexology. Corick House Hotel and Spa in Clogher is also a great destination for those looking for complete relaxation and a special treat and with eight luxurious treatment rooms including a couples room, visitors will go away feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Corick House also offers luxurious accommodation and guests can relax in one of the forty three Georgian style bedrooms.
Shop ‘til you drop
For a little seasonal shopping, Co Tyrone is full to the brim with busy streets offering varieties of shops ranging from cutting edge designer to high street. The Linen Green Designer Village in Dungannon is perfect for those looking for a day of shopping with everything they need in the one place and both Cookstown and Dungannon town centres are known for their variety of places to shop, relax and unwind and are perfect for shopaholics.
If local craft or something homemade is what you’re after Carol Kinloch Beaded Designs is situated just outside Omagh and produces unique hand stitched beaded jewellery from her workshop.
Other craft shops available include Dasalee Textile Art which is based in Dungannon and offers a unique array of mounted or framed artwork and Michelle Butler Ceramics in Omagh which hosts a range of handcrafted ceramic items from large pots to jewellery.
Food glorious food
Foodies will delight in the range of delicious restaurants that Co.Tyrone has to offer including The Brewers House in Donaghmore,Viscounts in Dungannon, Tullylagan Country House in Cookstown and the award winning Oysters in Strabane. Food enthusiasts will also enjoy the Tyrone Food Trail which showcases food producers, restaurants accommodation providers and tourist attractions across the Tyrone region. The Deli on the Green in the Linen Green Designer Village in Dungannon is renowned for its delicious food and is perfect for shoppers who want to take a break after a hard day of retail therapy.
For an abundance of local seasonal produce Dungannon and Omagh both have Farmers Markets which host a wide variety of delicious food including vegetable stalls, bakery goods, farm quality pork, beef and lamb as well as stalls from local bakerys.
For information and for your chance to win a weekend break at Corick House Hotel and Spa log onto http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/sperrins/