A great circuit around the horseshoe of hills enclosing the Goles River in the heart of the Sperrins.
Starting point is the carpark at Goles Forest where there is ample parking and have always found to be quiet and safe. Walk east along the B536 (which travels the length of the magnificent Glenelly valley)for a short distance to access the stand of Goles forest on the other side of the road.
The forest track rises steadily to over 300m, giving great views south to the forested slopes of Carnanelly, though with little trees until a sharp right turn alongside some mature pines. Follow this level track until its end and a ride opens up through the trees. A walk on a carpet of sponge with towering trees overhead until a fence and the boundary with open hillside.
The ground on the hill is wet and tussocky but as climb up from the forest the views really open down the length of Glenelly with the hills either side, also east to the outlier of Slieve Gallion and the lowlands of the Lough Neagh basin. The first 'top' is a lower part of Mullaghsallgh at 437m where the ubiquitous Sperrin fencline is picked up. This is followed down and up to the top of Mullaghsallagh itself, where a number of fences meet and greet.
A couple of km of walking lies ahead as drop and ascend fairly gently before the steeper climb to the top of Oughtmore at 559m. This walking is over fairly good ground though are some wetter parts. Nice views extend east past Crockbrack to the Antrim and Belfast Hills. Some new fencing has been erected and a funeral pyre for the old lies to the side after many years of service i am sure. The fence is left as continue northward to the final pull up Oughtmore which is short and steep.
Oughtmore is a long gently undulating top and yes there is a fenceline running across its back which is followed NW. Pass old stone county boundary markers as drop genlty and then finally more steeply to the col with Mullaghaneany. Scrambler tracks unfortunately made there presence here churning up the ground. This is a good spot for a break and there are some nice perches on rocks. High above a kestrel perched on the fencline i had earlier passed, popping up and hovering before dropping down again. Fed and watered the 1km and nearly 200m climb up Mullaghaneany beckoned. Last patches of sunlight touched Mullaghmore to the east as frontal cloud brought its dark shadow, a singular paraglider hanging in the air above its slopes. A chill wind gained strength and cloud touched the southern shoulder of Meenard to the west.
The fenceline brought the summit at 627m and views to the N along the Roe valley to Lough Foyle and the mountains of Inishowen, with Lough Swilly visible beyond. The long line of the Sperrins stretched westward towards Donegal with cloud randomly touching down on some of the tops. A short drop along the fenceline brought the col over 500m and a short climb to the the top of Meenard at 626m. Cloud had won the day and visibility had dropped to a mistiness as the makeshift cairn appeared - not may marks out of 10 for style or appearance!
Drop S towards the two streams flowing off the hillside. In the mist i ended up descending between the two but it is much better to follow the more westerly down and to savour its waterfalls. Though i still had a great experience with my route and had plenty of other waterfalls to pass as i followed the stream along the valley until reaching sheep pens and a rough track. This passes a number of long abandoned farm buildings in the remote valley (If winning the Lottery it would be an amazing place to renovate!) as the track improves and follows alongside the Goles river. Tarmac is reached and followed, with only sheep, cows and horses for company, to the B536 again. It is then about 20 minutes walk back to the carpark at Goles Forest.
A fantastic circular walk where i met not another soul on a weekend with pretty decent weather, good for clearing the cobwebs from the head and soul.