Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sawel - My 10th 'Dillon' In A Gale Force Wind

Trig Pillar on Sawel

Date First Walked: October 3rd 2009
Range: Sperrin Mountains
Mapsheet: 13
Distance: ????
Classification: Dillon, Hewitt, Mailyn, 2 County Tops (Derry and Donegal)
Height: 678 metres
County: Derry/Tyrone
My Dillon Count: 10

Something of a very minor milestone - my 10th Dillon!

Another quick up and down as I done Sawel as part of an effort to get to the highest point in each county in Ireland. Despite forecasts of high and gusty winds, I decided to take my chances and made an early start and headed for the Sperrin Mountains.

Sawel can be included as part of a long walk of the Sperrins but its summit can be easily reached by climbing the East shoulder from the road between Sperrin and Port. Travelling the narrow road from the Sperrin direction, park up at the layby on the right after the second cattle grid. Cross the road and follow the fence uphill which acts as a guide most of the way to the summit of Sawel. The lower parts of the mountain are boggy in places with numerous peat hags and wet areas to be encountered. As you gain height, the boggy ground gives way to a nice covering of grass more akin a country field than the upper reaches of a mountain.

My walk to the top was done with the rising sun on my back and it lit up and painted the Eastern slopes of Sawel in bright and vivid colours. I was sheltered most of the way to the top but as I got within 200 metres of the summit, I could hear the wind howling across from the direction of Dart Mountain to the West. Crossing the crest of the hill, I was nearly blown off my feet and my plans to cross over to Dart were quickly cancelled for another day. The summit proper is just a short distance to the right of the fence which marks the county boundary between Derry and Tyrone and consists of a raised mound of rocks topped by a trig pillar. On the other side of the fence were a dishevelled looking group of sheep desperately huddled on the eastern side of a large peat hag in a vain effort to avoid the worst of the winds. The sheep seemed to look at me jealously knowing that I could gain shelter by heading back down the east side of the mountain from which they were denied access by the fence - their options were limited to staying put and sitting out the gale or heading back towards Dart running the high risk of having the wool blown off their backs. Such was the strength of the wind that I was blown off the crest containing the trig pillar on a couple of ocassions so I quickly retreated back to a more sheltered area.

For anyone gathering county tops, the summit proper of Sawel is actually in County Derry with the highest point in county Tyrone lyning some 30 or 40 metres away just across the fence down the southern slope of the mountain. To date, nothing marks this very important spot so perhaps someone will take it upon themselves to construct a small cairn there!

Sperrin Sunrise
Sunrise over the Sperrin Mountains

On Top of Derry (Hold on to your hat!)

Me on the summit of Sawel holding onto my hat!

On Top of Tyrone

The highest point in Tyrone on the southern slopes of Sawel

Sawel Peat Hag

Peat Hag on the slopes of Sawel

Early morning on Sawel
Early morning on Sawel

First Light on Sawel
Sawel from it's lower slopes

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