WALKING DAVAGH FOREST
WALKING DAVAGH FOREST
Davagh Forest did not disappoint - trails to suit everyone from little explorers and chilled out walking, to fast-paced biking.
Heard about these already? Then click here to skip straight to Kelly’s adventure!
If it’s your first time reading, let us quickly explain. Each week we’re sent and tagged in SO many brilliant photos on social media, from your travels around Northern Ireland.
We try to feature as many locations as possible in our Fan Pic Friday feature each week, to give you lots of ideas for places to visit.
But we’ve also spotted some like-minded people who we really want you to know about. Their photos, videos and stories pop up each week, instantly making us want to stop what we’re doing… and go join them on an adventure.
And some day we will. But for now, we’re inviting them to takeover our channels.
Hi, I'm Kelly
founder of Soul Girls Adventure
…and a little country girl from County Tyrone who has grown a mad passion for hiking and exploring.
With my boots always handy and the car filled with diesel, you’ll find me anywhere; from the isolated hills of Donegal to the peaks of the Mournes.
It was two years ago when my love for hiking started. I was dragged up Mount Errigle for a charity event with friends. It was the most pain-inducing thing I’ve ever done but for some bizarre reason, I loved it.
Reaching that summit and having a beer with friends was so rewarding and completely refreshing. Every spare minute thereafter, I was chasing that thrill and excitement.
Depression has played a huge part of my life for years. I've had many therapies and treatments but nothing came close to the medicine mother nature supplies.
Hiking gives me a sense of freedom, where my mind is clear and all I'm concerned with is one foot in front of the other, pushing myself up the next hill and being completely engulfed with my surroundings.
There’s nothing that can beat it.
Having grown up in a little village of Gortin, County Tyrone, the Sperrin mountain range was my front garden. Filled with miles upon miles of sweeping countryside, rivers, mountains and forests at every junction, it truly is a place of natural beauty.
It was only recently that I discovered Davagh Forest. Why? I’ve no idea. But nestled deep within the Sperrins, lies this amazing place waiting to be explored. Situated about 12 miles from Cookstown and 15 miles from Gortin, Davagh Forest has it all.
I always plan my route before hiking and arrive well prepared. Some of my essentials include good waterproof (because well, we don’t always have an Indian summer) - rain jacket and a sturdy pair of boots. I use boots with a Vibram soul for that extra grip - plus they last longer.
Poles are not always needed, but useful for those more challenging routes. And finally, food and water, because hiking is hard work, and there’s nothing more satisfying than having a mushy sandwich at the summit.
Komoot app is my go-to planner. It’s easy to use, plan your hike and you can share your hikes with others, which is a great way of finding new routes to explore.
So back to Davagh forest
With some of the best trails in the country, covering an impressive 16km, Davagh is well-known already in the world of mountain biking. Trails are clearly marked blue, green and red for difficulty ratings - it's easy to find a trail to suit your needs.
There are also facilities to hire bikes if you’re new to the game and want a try your hand at some of the trails. Great fun for all the family.
With changing facilities, a superb play park and picnic areas dotted all round the forest, there’s certainly plenty to keep the family entertained, including a bike wash for those muddy bikes after the trails.
Because the mountain biking is well advertised for this forest, I wasn’t sure if I had the freedom of the tracks to hike on. Thankfully there’s a site map at the car park where you can plan your route – the tracks that are for bikes only are well marked.
So route planned, bag packed and my excited head on, I started off following the trail from the car park, clearly marked for walkers.
The trail swooped through the forest, passing rivers, bridges, picnic areas and never-ending greenery. My hike followed the red bike route to the summit, known as ‘The Widowmaker’.
At no point on this route did I wander onto a bike trail – as said it was all very well marked.
Heading deep into the forest, I was all alone. I never met another single soul on the track, so if you get a little intimidated by the isolation of the outdoors, I suggest bringing company.
I covered 8 miles on this hike - it was a steady incline but with plenty of stops to take in the scenery, I found it quite chilled.
On the descent, I completed a loop and returned to the smaller forest trails - back along the river to the carpark where I enjoyed a warm cuppa, chatting to some lovely folk about their experience of the forest.
Davagh Forest did not disappoint with trails to suit everyone - from little explorers and chilled out walking to fast-paced biking - every angle is covered.
At the minute, there’s some construction happening - it didn’t interfere with my hike though.
So to sum it up, Davagh kicks ass.
I will certainly be back, and I might even throw in the bike the next time.
Hi, I'm Kelly, from County Tyrone and founder of Soul Girls Adventure.
Being someone who has struggled with depression; hiking has been my therapy - it has given me freedom unlike anything else. I know the importance of looking after your mental health, and that's why you’ll now find me taking groups of women out on adventures - we hike, have yoga in the forest and support and encourage each other, building friendships in the wild.
If you would like to become part of the next Soul Girls Adventure, then see more on:
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