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Sawel Mountain Samhail Phite Méabha A name in Irish
(Ir. 'Samhail Phite Méabha' [DUPN], 'resemblance of Maeve’s vulva') County Highpoint of Derry & Tyrone In County Highpoint, Arderin, Vandeleur-Lynam, Irish Highest Hundred Lists

Height: 678m OS 1:50k Mapsheet: 13 Grid Reference: H61796 97305 This summit has been logged as climbed by 238 members. Recently by: pmeldrum, chalky, conorc57, hugh_oc, guestuser, newpark-cc, douginireland, Fergalh, vince_curran, pavelbodi, DenisMc, JoannaS, megantaggart, Rob_Lee, Glanman2
I have climbed this summit: YES (You need to be a logged-in member to change this.)

Longitude: -7.039496, Latitude: 54.819727 Prominence: 657m,   Isolation: 1.8km,   Has trig pillar
ITM: 661729 897292,   GPS IDs, 6 char: Sawel, 10 char: Sawel

This rather colourful name seems to derive from the appearance of the glen on the S side of Sawel.   Sawel is the highest mountain in the Sperrin Mountains area and the 144th highest in Ireland. Sawel is the highest point in county Derry and also the highest in Tyrone.

Trackback: http://mountainviews.ie/summit/144/
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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain Sawel in area Sperrin Mountains, Ireland
Picture: The sight of a near full moon rounded off a fabulous afternoon on Sawel
 
by kernowclimber  1 Mar 2010 After following the weather forecast to see where we might get in a good winter climb, we settled on the Sperrins which, if the Met Office was to be believed, had apparently received some snow the day before (Fri 26th). Driving into Cookstown we caught our first real views of the Sperrins; they had indeed gotten a huge dump of snow that far exceeded our expectation. We took the first road right on the B 47 after Glenerin Bridge and just before the hamlet of Sperrin. This mountain track leads up towards the foothills of Sawel that was to be our objective for the day.

We were almost thwarted in our endeavour by the accumulation of snow on the road and not having a 4X4 and a car without its winter tyres meant it was difficult to find a place to park alongside the road where we wouldn’t get stuck. We found a turning about a kilometre up the road to park safely and walked parallel to Oughtnamwella Burn to 633 952 (Point A) where a gate leads into a field that is bordered by a fence. This fence that runs up towards the summit can be used as an aid to navigation in inclement conditions.

The snow was much deeper than we had thought it would be and we regretted not having our snowshoes with us, which had propelled us rapidly up Lugnaquillia last month. The snow was well over a foot deep and on the lower slopes was quite loose and mushy. Between the peat hags, it had drifted and was waist deep making it hard going to maintain upward progress.

As we ascended the snow became more compact and easier to walk on, but the temperature began to plummet. Close to the summit the cloud closed in and the wind picked up, creating poor visibility in sub-zero conditions. We located the trig point, misshapen and contorted by ice, with the aid of our GPS. As we hopped the ice laden fence to bag the highest point in Tyrone, the sinking sun appeared through the swirling cloud as a watery orb, casting an eerie, pale apricot other-worldly hue over everything. It reminded me of the planet LV-426 in Alien!

As we were being severely buffeted by icy winds at this point and thankful that our winter kit was repaying the money we had dished out on it in spadefuls, we decided to make our descent. As we came through the cloud we were greeted by the sight of the rolling landscape bathed in the rose-coloured glow of the setting sun. As we feasted our eyes on this spectacle, the near full moon drifted up from behind Oughtmore and Mullaghsallagh.

Four hours later we arrived back to our car in the twilight. We might not have had the extensive views of the north of our island so eloquently described by other members of Mountain Views, but the winter and atmospheric conditions we experienced made this climb truly memorable.
Point A: H633 952
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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain Sawel in area Sperrin Mountains, Ireland
Picture: MountainViews Exclusive... The County Top of Tyrone
by paulocon  5 Oct 2009 Poor Tyrone... not only did they relinquish their All-Ireland title this year but after exhaustive investigations on behalf of MountainViews, I can now somewhat exclusively reveal that the county high-point doesn't actually lie on the summit of any mountain nor is it adorned by a splendid trig pillar or cairn offering panoramic 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside. The County doesn't even find itself in a cosy arrangement where it shares it's summit with a neighbour in the way that Carlow/Wexford and Tipp/Limerick among others so happily do. Instead, Tyrone finds itself in the same rather unfortunate and embarassing position as Monaghan, Leitrim and Roscommon of having a County Top that lies on the slopes of a mountain which peaks in adifferent County.



It had been speculated that the summit of Tyrone was Mullaghclogha - indeed, this is the top visited by Paul Clements in his book 'The Height of Nonsense'. Recently, the popular opinion swayed towards the notion that there was some sort of magical imaginary line that ran through the trig pillar at the summit of Sawel demarking the border between the two counties.

However after exhaustive investigation, we can now reveal the location of the highest point in County Tryone. Speaking with the Strabane District Council Countryside Officer, we were told that 'Sawel`s highest point is actually just in Co. Derry but the highest point in Tyrone is only 30 or 40 metres away from the trig point. If you cross the fence to the south of the trig point, you will be standing on the highest point in Tyrone'.

On Saturday morning in windy conditions, I made my way to the summit of Sawel, took a bearing South, walked 30 or 40 metres, crossed the fence and claimed the County Top of Tyrone in the good name of MountainViews. Being far too tight to own a GPS or any sort of a fancy watch that would give the elevation, I simply shuffled along the fence and located what looked to be the highest point and made a rather memorable yet simple pronouncement. I was also far too lazy and wind-battered to go off and find a couple of stones to construct a cairn at this location for future generations to gaze at in awe and reverential respect.



This news has come as a shock to many among the peak-bagging community. I can only apologise to those collecting County Tops who share the same obsessive gene as me in having to stand at the exact high-point of each County in order to get to that great Trig Pillar in the sky.

For the MountainViews investigative team, this messy work continues with the next task being to debunk the myths regarding the high points of Counties Roscommon and Leitrim.
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by Bleck Cra  29 Sep 2004 The Sperrins. Four words, excepting my stoppage, describe these burst teabags. “Completely beautiful” and “duelling bbbbbanjos”.

The Sperrins could start from Goles Bridge or anywhere else through the worm hole.
First, come out of Draperstown and take the delightful Plumbridge Road.

I followed a fence made of razor wire, itself following a gurgling stream and both briefly followed by a farmer from Gortin. Frightening enough.

Half an hour of orange (history) bog and a conviction that nothing survives here.
At 2000’. “Hello now” I said. “Hello back,” he said. “Cutting the turf?” said I. “Sure that I am,” said he.
A dog (or similar) was welded to a post, buried in said bog. The first sniff of me and the land cracked and retched as damned Spot tried to uproot the mountain and swallow me.
“Sure he won’t touch you”. Sure he’ll just inhale me.

When you’ve seen all the bog there is, comes the summit of Sawel and what true bog is, to Derry, Donegal and Greenland.

On a good day (Ha) you can see to McGilligan and that breathtaking black blue texture of ocean kissing Tir nan Og, and also back into the bitter glens of the lower Sperrins: green, beautiful and uneasy.

My route was Mullaghsallagh, Oughtmore, Mullaghaneany, Meenard, and Oughtvabeg.

A hill can be looked from as well as looked at and the dullest hill can present the prettiest views. The Sperrins teach us the converse.
Go amongst them and love them. Go up them and hate them forever.

Here’s an incentive - on another occasion, I said to the wummin in the Sperrin Centre “what about if I go West of the Burn?” “Oh yyyyyes” she said: “the farmer will shoot you”. “In what way?” said I. “Ddddead,” said she.
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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain Sawel in area Sperrin Mountains, Ireland
Picture: Frozen fence leading into the freezing fog
 
by wicklore  31 Oct 2008 Photo of the fence that leads almost to the summit of Sawel from the Barnes Road. Except for the fact that some photos showed the colour of my walking poles I would have thought the camera was in black and white mode. Some steep sections on this approach needed to be negotiated with care as a simple stumble could have resulted in a slippery slide!
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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain Sawel in area Sperrin Mountains, Ireland
Picture: Sawel from the approach to the start point coming from the Glenelly Valley
by dr_banuska  1 Jul 2009 Gave this one another stab with my trusty dog Susie after not even being able to find the start point a year ago. Began at the usual start point: coming from the Glenelly Valley, travel a couple of miles up Sperrin Rd, park at the fence just past the second cattle grid, shortly after passing a large shed on the left. As others have said, the County Rock is a little way up the hill on the other side of the road if you cross the gate, and is well worth a look, if only for photo opps where you can mark out Tyrone and Derry!

The fence leading up the long eastern shoulder is reassuring and I tended not to wander too far from it. This was a steady ascent although a number of jumps were needed to avoid boggier parts - added to the experience though. The summit does look very far away from the lower heights though it came upon me very suddenly in the end. The ever widening views are excellent and as this was my highest peak to date, I had that 'on top of the world' feeling nearing the summit. Great views east along the range: Slieve Gallion with its transmitter, and Lough Neagh narrowly visible behind it, could be seen to the south east. Looking north, I could see the village of Park (?), a couple of wind farms and the distinctive profile of Benbradagh beyond Dungiven. Further up I could see the distinctive profile of Binevenagh, with Lough Foyle and Inishowen to the west.

At the summit there were good views west along the range to Dart and what I assumed was Mullaghclogha beyond (which actually looked higher than Sawel). My preconceptions were jarred somewhat I must admit: for some reason I expected a short descent and a tightrope-esque ridge leading to the summit of Dart when in reality it was quite a steep drop and a very broad ridge (no danger of falling off then!), which made the neighbouring summit look further away than it was. But having come this far I couldn't resist and made my way downhill again (will cover Dart in more detail in a separate comment). I ended up descending the other side of Dart using the track others have mentioned, until I reached the Glenelly Valley again, then east along the main road past the Heritage Centre then up Sperrin Rd again. This meant a very long walk in total: as others have suggested it might be an idea to take two cars if possible.

For a relatively sunny and clear day, and considering Sawel's position as the highest in the range (and a county peak, if not two), I didn't meet one other walker, although there was another car parked at the start point when I set off.

Overall, a very enjoyable hike that took in two peaks I've wanted to bag for a long time. Just a shame there was a thunderstorm on the way down Dart and we got soaked to the skin, but that's all part of the experience.
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MountainViews.ie Picture about mountain Sawel in area Sperrin Mountains, Ireland
Picture: Looking back on the ascent
 
A Beginner's View
by Aidy  27 Aug 2013 Can't add much to previous comments, but as this is my first climb, I thought I'd give a beginner's perspective, This site, along with gerrym's videos on youtube inspired me to have a go, so maybe if someone is thinking of starting to hike, I can do the same.

Chose Sawel as its the highest point in my native Tyrone and within easy reach. I went up the East side following the fence from the second cattle grid on the Sperrin Road, in bright late afternoon sunshine. Not too steep or difficult although I needed a couple of breathers when the legs protested. The fence was a great security blanket and you can't miss the summit. The views are great but unfortunately it became very murky and hazy at the top, so no great photos. Dutifully hopped over the fence too, so I could claim Tyrone as well as Derry.

I found it to be a great mountain for a beginner. I had no specialist gear, just wellies and a fleece, and had no navigation to do. Great views from the top, not too demanding, up and down in 2 - 3 hours, and two county tops on my first climb! If you're hesitating, give it a go - I'm hooked now.
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OSi logo OSNI/LPS logo
British summit data courtesy:
Database of British & Irish Hills
(Creative Commons Licence)
"ASTER+": Hillshade and Contours
Courtesy of Tiles GIScience Research Group @ Heidelberg University More detail here