Route can be seen here on Youtube
The drive up the Glenelly Valley never ceases to impress with rolling hills stretching out into the distance either side of the valley. Long fingers of high ground reach down from these hills with river valleys in between, giving a roller coaster ride in the car.
Starting point is at a large layby just before the hamlet of Sperrin, giving a short 5 minute walk on this not at all busy main road through Glenelly. Turn right up the narrow Sperrin Road which rises steeply alongside the Oughtnamwella Burn. There is parking at the high pass for several cars but i have only used this once (on a night camp) in all the times i have climbed Sawel - giving a clear view that there is much added value to starting from a much lower position.
The sound of the running water is soon dissapated as the road climbs higher above the ever deeper and wider course of the river. Sheep keep company along with the very odd vehicle taking this high pass. Distance comes quickly on the sound footing of the tarmac and with it views back to the southern line of Sperrin Hills and across to Sawel and Dart, connected as twins.
Pass a cattle grid and take to the hillside at a farm building on the left soon after (there are none other at this height), where a fencline can be followed for a good distance and height. Continue uphill NW and will reach the fenceline that goes up like a conveyor belt to the summit area. Views really open out on this shoulder of Sawel to the line of Sperrin Hills running north along the Roe Valley to end at the cliffs of Benevenagh. Steady climbing alongside the safey of the fence, where it turns sharply left at the summit area continue ahead to reach the trig pillar in a few minutes.
Have stood here in all sorts of conditions and it has been a rare occasion that the views have not taken a breath away. From its central position Sawel commands a view over most of Ulster and its mountains - Inishowen, Derryveaghs, Bluestacks, Cuilcaigh, Cooleys, Mournes, Belfast and Antrim Hills and on really good days parts of Scotland.
Descend SW, crossing the fence by way of 2 well placed stones, again following the fenceline with the short and stocky Dart some 2 km in the distance. The descent is none too taxing and the walk across the broad col neither. Old telegraph poles have been recycled to act as monster fence posts at intervals which would make one wonder is there more than sheep in these here parts! Follow the fence to the right at a junction and this goes all the way to the top of Dart. Old makers for the Sperrin Challenge Walk still adorned the fence in places.
A short climb brings the cairn on Dart which is usually a good spot to stop for a bit of lunch. Views are dominated by the big wall of hill that is Mullaghclogha to the west but much of that visible from Sawel is here too. A large sign informs that private land is to the west but that responsible walkers are welcome - a change from past times when there were worries over access from this end.
Drop back to the col and instead of going back up over Sawel, though have done in past, contour around and head for the large shoulder dropping down into Glenelly. This has a fencline along its spine and as it levells off is somewhat wetter. From here drop off towards Oughtnamwella Burn at whatever stage suits - can aim for an isolated stand of pine trees. When reach the river can follow for a distance and then cross and head up the other side of the vally to reach Sperrin Road again - this time with a short drop off to reach the main road and the parking area.
A cracking walk in all weathers and well worth it for th big views that come from the two hills. Not met other walkers on these hills all that often but it is nice to have a passing conversation when do!