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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 and in Derry/ Tyrone Counties in NI and in Ulster Province, in County Highpoint, Arderin, Vandeleur-Lynam, Irish Highest Hundred Lists, Psammite & semipellite Bedrock

Height: 678m OS 1:50k Mapsheet: 13 Grid Reference: H61796 97305
Place visited by 375 members. Recently by: nolo, marcel, John.geary, RockyCaver, DavidHoy, N.Dillon, Kilcoobin, Kilcubbin, IndyMan, fellrunner, eeimly, Paddym99, garybuz, Jimmy600leavey, Hjonna
I have visited this place: NO (You need to be a logged-in member to change this.)

Longitude: -7.039464, Latitude: 54.819745 , Easting: 261796, Northing: 397305 Prominence: 657m,  Isolation: 1.8km,   Has trig pillar
ITM: 661731 897294,   GPS IDs, 6 char: Sawel, 10 char: Sawel
Bedrock type: Psammite & semipellite, (Dart Formation)

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 145th highest in Ireland. Sawel is the highest point in county Derry and also the highest in Tyrone.

COMMENTS for Sawel 1 2 3 Next page >>  
Follow this place's comments Picture about mountain Sawel in area Sperrin Mountains, Ireland
Picture: Summit of Sawel looking NE
Lording it over Derry and Tyrone
Short Summary created by Harry Goodman, gerrym  12 Sep 2010
Two popular start points for Sawel are (1) from the E on the high pass on the Sperrin Road at H639975 A. A fenceline goes up W and provides a sure guide to the summit area. At H618972 B, a fence junction, go right up to the trig pillar. (2) From the W on the Cranagh to Park road at H589969 C with ample of road parking near a cattle grid. Just N along the road a fence can be followed up ESE to Dart Mt. From the top head NE down a rocky slope to a wide saddle H611967 D and then up along a fence to a junction. The summit lies a short distance NE on the other side H6179797303 E. With two cars these two routes can be combined to make a fine linear walk. Longer alternatives allow approaches on foot from the B47 in the Glenelly Valley and give increased opportunities to savour the delights to come but add considerably to the distance walked. These include starting at the Sperrin Heritage Centre at H607935 F. Sawel has the honour of being the County Top for both Derry and Tyrone. While the accepted view in the past has been a shared summit alternative views posted on the site now suggest that the high point of Tyrone may lie either some 30/40 metres S of the trig pillar or within 3 metres from it. The debate continues! Walking here is usually done without meeting others and the weather can be pretty bad on occasion so come well prepared for sudden changes in weather. The views are stunning on a good day, from one side of Ireland to the other! Linkback: Picture about mountain Sawel in area Sperrin Mountains, Ireland
Picture: Summit of Sawel at 9am on Tuesday morning last
wicklore on Sawel, 2008
by wicklore  31 Oct 2008
At 6:50am on Tuesday morning last I sat in my car on the lonely Barnes Road to the east of Sawel at H639 974 G. I was parked at a double gate, but careful not to block it. The outside temperature gauge read -1 Celsius and it was dark. Terrible weather was predicted but so far it had just rained. I spent some time getting my full winter gear on as I waited for the sun to rise. At 7:20 when it was light I headed up along the fence which led from the road up the eastern side of Sawel. It was soon joined by another fence and I continued to follow it east for the next 1.5 hours. Gerrym’s comment on the fence leading almost to the summit provided comfort as a shocking hail and snow storm unleashed itself upon me. Soon the ground was covered in icy snow and the going got much tougher. Visibility was down to maybe 30 feet at times but following the fence made navigation easy. However both gps and compass were constantly checked. At point H619 973 H the fence veered SW and I struck off to follow the slope uphill into the freezing fog and snow. This would be the only real navigation challenge of the day, and it turned out not to be a challenge as within a few minutes I came to the summit pillar. The contrast of black and white as the pillar rose out of the frozen ground made it look like a pencil drawing. Experience told me not to leave my gloves off for more than half a minute when taking photos. Even at that my hands were freezing and made putting my gloves back on difficult. While I did not benefit from any views I had bagged two County Tops with one mountain. The severe weather and the fact I was alone meant an extension to Dart Mountain was out of the question. I simply retraced my route back to the fence and followed it down to the road just over 2 kms away. While the fence made this route a straightforward handrail to the summit, it provided a great safe route to test winter gear in such weather. One thing that surprised me was that large balls of compact ice formed under my boots, providing me with ‘stilts’. Possibly the snow was getting caught in my gaiter straps underfoot, and then forming into lumps. Walking poles were used to knock these off every so often, but it was the first time I had experienced this. Linkback:
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Derry / Tyrone County Top
by Gribster  23 Aug 2010
As I near the completion of my 2010 County Tops challenge, I would like to inform my fellow County Toppers about something I've recently learned about Sawel Mountain. A few weeks ago, I followed the “county boundary” fence to the summit from Sperrin Road. The fence passes about 10m west of the summit trig pillar which supposedly marks the County Top of Derry. I walked westwards from it to the highest point along the fence about 10m west. There were two small boulders - one each side of the fence - which served nicely as a stile. The boulder on the west side of the fence seemed the most likely location of the County Top of Tyrone, so I felt a need to stand on it. I realise there can be a lack of precision associated with certain County Tops (see my MV entry for Seltannasaggart SE Slope), and I wanted to be absolutely sure about this one too. OSNI 1:50,000 Sheet 13 and 1:25,000 Sperrins Activity Map both show the county boundary passing very close to the Sawel Mountain trig pillar. In fact, the Sperrins Activity Map clearly shows the boundary deviating away from the fence to possibly pass through the pillar. I checked with OSNI, and they've informed me that the county boundary is an "undefined" boundary (i.e. one which is not coincident with any feature). If the fence had marked the boundary, it would have been a "defined" boundary. This confirms that the fence, used by many people as a navigational guide to the summit, doesn’t mark the county boundary. OSNI also checked the location of the trig pillar and the county boundary on their digital mapping. From this, they measured that the trig pillar lies 0.8m on the Tyrone side of the county boundary. However, they could only confirm an accuracy of 2m - in other words, the trig pillar could be 2.8m into Tyrone or it could just as easily be 1.2m into Derry. A townland boundary also crosses the summit, intersecting the county boundary within 2m of the trig pillar. The proximity of these two boundaries to the trig pillar and the 2m accuracy of the mapping leads me to believe that the trig pillar marks the point where the county and townland boundaries intersect. While it’s not possible to pinpoint the County Top of either Derry or Tyrone based on the most accurate large-scale mapping available, there appears to be a strong possibility that the Sawel Mountain trig pillar marks the top of both counties. It certainly marks the top of at least one. If it marks the top of Derry only, then the top of Tyrone is up to 1.2m to the south of it. If it marks the top of Tyrone only, then the top of Derry is up to 2.8m to the north of it. Based on the high level of uncertainty and the tiny distances involved, it is best to assume that the trig pillar is located directly on the county boundary and marks the County Top of both Derry and Tyrone. To be absolutely sure you get both counties, walk a tight circle around the trig pillar and then spiral out gradually until you are 2.8m from it. It's the only way to be sure. Linkback:
Your Score: Very useful <<  >>Average Picture about mountain Sawel in area Sperrin Mountains, Ireland
Picture: Sawel
A 'very' Shapely Top
by gerrym  11 Feb 2014

Sawel may not be as exciting or as impressive as some hills in other parts of the country, but it is a special hill among a special range of hills. The fact that it is named after a part of the female anatomy (and indeed looks the part if you see the pic) can only add to the charm!

The best approach is along the high and lonely Sperrin road which heads upward out of the hamlet (even this is over descriptive) of Sperrin. Parking is available at an extensive layby at 639944 I. The road rises alongside Oughtnamwella Burn and brings increasingly impressive views over the Glenelly valley. It is most definitely worth the walk but there is also room to park at the high pass at over 1000ft - think of the exercise!

From the pass take the fenceline rising up the long E shoulder of Sawel, the going is steady with steeper sections but it is not too challenging and the fence is reassuring in poor weather - it is only near to the summit that need to leave its side and head off a short distance to the rare sight of a trig pillar in the Sperrins.

I would challenge anyone (in a duel to near death, preferably with pillows) to tell me that the views from here on a clear day can be beaten by another mountain in Ireland. Basically every county in Ulster is within sight of glazed eyes - at the amazingness of it all and in no way to do with drug use. Where else could you see nearly all of the hills of Donegal and all the way across to the hills of Antrim at the other side of Ireland? The whole of the Sperrin range is visible in all its glory, and as i have said in another comment this hill could on occasion make me briefly turn away from my steadfast atheism.

Sawel carries stature in being the highest point of the large Sperrin range and holds the weight of two county tops. For all this it is still a rare sight to see someone else on the mountain, even at the weekend, something that adds to its appeal i feel.

Return is by the same route but as you have come this far it is well worth travelling across the broad col and up to the summit of neighbouring Dart, which is different in character. Wait for a clear day, preferably one of those with a northerly breeze and the clear air that extends views and sharpness to truly experience the magic of the Sperrins - I know! Linkback:
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Picture: Looking east from the highest point in Tyrone
slemish on Sawel, 2009
by slemish  20 Nov 2009
This was my first venture into the Sperrins and where better to start than the daddy of them all? Sawel looked majestic in the afternoon sunshine as I approached it via the road from Sperrin. Wanting a quick up and down, I parked at the second cattle grid as others suggested from here it is the easiest route up (639974 G). It's a long climb but not too steep, only in a couple of places did I find the going tough. The summit looks incredibly far away on the initial stages so I didn't stray too far from the fence, just to avoid boggy sections. It was amazingly sunny for late November and I was enjoying the weather, but nothing prepared me for the force of the wind coming up from Dart as I approached the 678m summit. I couldn't stand at the trig pillar for more than about a minute. The trig pillar looked very weather-beaten and no wonder. The only comparable wind I had experienced before was on Trostan but this was definitely worse. Excellent views however down the ridge to Dart and Mullaghclogha, north to Sleve Snaght and Binevenagh and round to Benbradagh and the lower Sperrins. It's only up here you get a sense of the scale and indeed the wilderness of the Sperrins. To the east I could just make out the outlines of Knocklayd, Slievenanee and Slemish through the haze. I made a hurried sortie over the fence to bag the county top of Tyrone as well, then descended quickly to get out of the wind. Job done - the highest mountain I've climbed so far and the first over 2000ft. Total trip - about 1.5 hours. Linkback:
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Picture: The sight of a near full moon rounded off a fabulous afternoon on Sawel
kernowclimber on Sawel, 2010
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 J 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. Linkback:
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Open Street Map
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British summit data courtesy:
Database of British & Irish Hills
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