Looking across the slopes of Curraghchosaly towards Bessy Bell as storms pass by.
Around the end of January, I set out to get to the top of some of the smaller Sperrin hills in the west of counties Tyrone and Derry, hoping to get a few in, in one day. We’d had a good layer of snow recently, and these hills, close to main roads, would be easier to get to, than the bigger mountains, where the minor roads were impassable due to the snow. My first hill of the day was Curraghchosaly Mountain, 416m high, near the village of Gortin, Co. Tyrone. Driving out of Gortin, the roads were dodgy enough, but I pressed on, not having far to go. I stopped a couple of times to take photos of the snow covered drumlins in the area, before taking an even more dodgy minor road to the starting point for the walk.
Snow-covered Drumlins near Gortin.
Much of Curraghchosaly is covered in commercial forestry, and there are communications masts on top, The summit is reached on forestry/access roads, so it isn’t the wildest feeling walk, but the snow added a bit more interest. It was a fairly simple task to follow the track up to the top, having researched which branches to follow.
Setting out through the forest.
Looking back along my own tracks.
The track wound its way up through the coniferous forest, often with large areas which had been felled on one side or the other, which permitted views across the snowy west Tyrone landscape.
The neighbouring hill, Bessy Bell.
The wintry landscape below.
Another neighbouring hill, Mullaghcarn, also topped with communications masts.
The summit, marked by the mast.
Just as I reached the summit, the sunshine which I had been walking in, disappeared, as stormclouds passed between the sun and me, although the resulting hail storms were falling in other places, rather than where I was standing.
Gloomier conditions just as I reached the top.
I had read that the views were better a little way past the summit, than at the top itself, so after making a circuit of the fenced off mast to make sure I had stood on the highest point possible, I decided to explore a bit beyond it. Unfortunately, after a few steps, I plunged through the snow up to my waist. Initially, I thought it was just a snowdrift I was sinking into, but then I felt freezing cold water seeping into my boots and up my legs, and foul smelling mud assaulted my nostrils. I was deep in the mud, and actually had to lie down and crawl to get my legs out. To make things worse, the hail now passed directly overhead too, and I was in the middle of the storm. I gave up on further exploring and set off back down the hill.
Another look over to Mullaghcarn on the way down, as the storm passed.
Clouds obscuring the views on the way down.
As the storm clouds passed they did make for more dramatic skies as I made my way down.
Back at the bottom, I used snow to wipe off as much of the evil smelling mud from the summit as I could, and despite that mishap, I had enjoyed the snowy conditions on Curraghchosaly. And, it was a short walk, which meant I could now head off in search of another summit, with plenty of daylight left.