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65km (40 miles) E to W along the Derry-Tyrone border

The beautiful Sperrin Mountains, a short drive southeast of Derry in County Tyrone, are filled with beautiful walks, national parks, and extraordinary views, plus one really must-see site: The Ulster American Folk Park. This is splendid, wide-open walking country, home to golden plover, red grouse, and thousands upon thousands of fluffy white sheep. 

If you've come for popular sites, however, you won't be likely to find the tallest, oldest, or most famous anything. Even the highest peak in the range -- Sawel, at 661m (2,168 ft.) -- is an easy climb. This is Ireland in a minor key. It is a corner of Ireland largely unsung, but also unspoiled. You'll see mostly wildflowers here, rather than formal gardens, and cottages rather than castles. All the same, gold has been found in these mountains. Poetry, too. The Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney grew up on the edge of the Sperrins and found words to suit their subtle splendor.

Unless you've come to farm or to fish the Foyle's plentiful salmon, chances are you'll spend your time exploring the dark-russet blanket bogs and purple heathland, the gorse-covered hillsides, and the forest parks. Whether you’re on foot, wheels, or horseback, be sure to traverse the Glenshane Pass between Mullaghmore (545m/1,788 feet) and Carntogher (455m/1,492 feet), and the Sawel Mountain Drive along the east face of the mountain. The vistas along these routes through the Sperrins will remind you why you’ve gone out of your way to spend time in Tyrone.