Sperrins Photo Blog: Vinegar Hill Loop

Once again I stayed relatively close to home for this hike, which happened to fall on my birthday.

The Vinegar Hill Loop in County Tyrone is one of a small number of waymarked routes in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains. It’s largely on farm tracks with sections on public but quiet roads.

I hadn’t walked it before but had done most of the longer (and excellent) Craignamaddy Circuit, which it overlaps with. 

Our start point was the scenic parking facility just to the north of Barnes Gap. This ‘deeply incised, north-south, glacial overflow channel’ cuts through the ridge of hills to the south of the Glenelly Valley, and is one of the most dramatic sights in the range.

A full route description and map are available from the Walk NI website so I won’t go into details here. While a mild day for January, the views were hazy but hopefully the below photos give a feel for what to expect. 

Looking north across the Glenelley Valley to ‘the Mullaghs’, taken on the higher of the two roads through Barnes Gap

My first time seeing signs for the International Appalachian Trail (Sentier international des Appalaches in French). The Ulster~Ireland section connects the Donegal and Antrim coasts.

The tranquil farm track which contours around Mullaghbolig on the eastern side of the loop

Our company for a while

Enjoying the views from the track

Heading downhill towards the end of the track

An excellent birthday surprise on our lunch stop 

The second section of track on our way back to Barnes Gap, as the sun began to set

Mullaghcarn which dominates the view to the south of the route. It rises above Gortin Glen Forest Park.

Back at Barnes Gap as dusk approaches. I like this view of the criss-crossing roads; we returned by the lower one but they both lead back to the parking spot.

Total distance: 11.9km / 7.4 miles 
Map: OSNI 13 or Sperrins Activity Map

More info: Vinegar Hill Loop and Craignamaddy Circuit listings on Walk NI website; International Appalachian Trail

Earlier posts on hiking in the Sperrins: 
Sperrins: Lough Ouske to Lough Lark |
Sperrins in the Snow: Carnanelly |
Crockbrack Way (and a bit of Hudy’s Way)

17 thoughts on “Sperrins Photo Blog: Vinegar Hill Loop

  1. Fantastic Martin. Brings back memories as I walked a bit of that route when bagging Mullaghbolig. Great photos for those conditions – I always think its good to show the landscape in all its moods to give a true impression. A belated (?) happy birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love Barnes, a very special walk for me because that’s where it all started almost 20yrs ago now. Enjoyed the walk, the views and the random lunch-stop/impromptu birthday celebration on a random bridge!!

    Liked by 1 person

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