Slieve Gallion is the most easterly of the Sperrins giving definition to what is beyond for all those who gaze across Lough Neagh from the populous east. A dusting of snow on its top heralds the joys of winter there and beyond. It is a very accessible hill and one which has proved to be worth going back to time and again.
Park at entrance to Iniscarn Forest (C (H833 907)
) where there is room for several cars. Follow the forest track for a short distance and then the marked walk (right) through broadleaved trees, mainly beech and holly. This rejoins the forest track where an eye needs to be kept for a crossing point over stream on right. This leads to the forest boundary and a concrete water tank. Cross the fence and the steep NE flank of Slieve Gallion is straight ahead.
A fence heads straight for the top, initially with forest for company. There is a good 600 ft of steep climbing and the views grow with every footstep! This slope has given me great pleasure in kicking steps in deep drifts and in sliding on my bum for 200 feet for a quick descent.
The fence is crossed just before a large cairn on the NE top. Views stretch out over Lough Neagh to the Antrim Hills, Belfast Hills and the Mournes. Make way down past communication masts and along their service road. Most days there is no other soul up here but on some it is full of paragilders or sunday drivers - either day is good.
Follow the road for 10 minutes and then take the track off to the R which heads for the main summit. Views are dominated by the higher hills of the Sperrins to the W. Yellow topped marker poles guide the way at even intervals but not too obtrusively. The track is quite wet in places and eventually peters out at an old aluminium shipping container marked with "Belfast Steamship Co Container Service". This is a great place for lunch, especially on days with howling winds, rain or snow.
A fence is crossed courtesy of a milk crate either side and a sign welcomes walkers but promotes responsibility. Further makers bring the trig point in short time, 1.75 hours after starting. A memorial is erected here to Ronnie Magwood - I suppose there is no more fitting a place with vast views in all directions, the Bluestacks and Culcaigh being added to those already mentioned - the whole of Ulster basically.
The waymakers continue to Lough Fea, this would be a good traverse of the entire mountain for those with additional transport. There are a number of options for returning to Iniscarn. A straightforward retracing of steps is very satisying, especially if there is snow on the steep slopes. Following the service road further downhill and taking a series of beautiful and peaceful farmtracks. I have also followed the way to Lough Fea for a distance to reach the high and lonely road going through the 'Gap' which i walked back to the forest. Linkback: mountainviews.ie/summit/398/comment/2480/