Glenlark (Glen of the Fork or Glen of the Slope) is an isolated, lonely and hauntingly beautiful glaciated valley in the Sperrins. The area is known for gold deposits. The most significant find was in the townland of Curraghinalt quite close to Glenlark Bridge in the early 1980s,. Since then, gold has been located in bedrock in a number of locations across the region. The area has a history of emigration. Quilting, home-spun wool, traditional music and Irish speaking are other important local activities.
The rocks in this part of the Sperrins are ancient .Originally silts and muds were deposited on an ocean floor some 600 million years ago. The ocean gradually disappeared as the continental plates moved towards eachother. The plates collided, sediments were sub-ducted and subjected to heat and pressure (metamorphosed) altering into schists and pelites.
Some 20,000 years ago the area was covered by ice sheets. The Sperrin Mountains were buried, along with much of the rest of Ireland, below an ice sheet up to half a mile thick, which advanced and retreated several times. The ice cap picked up large quantities of rock, grinding it into sand and gravel.
As the climate warmed, and the ice sheets retreated, melt-water rivers, full of sand and gravel ,flowed out of the melting glaciers depositing the sediments downstream.
Large amounts of sand and gravel are found throughout the Sperrins indicating the retreat of the ice sheets.
The starting point for the walk is beside Gorticashel Post Office (IH564 874) on the northern side of the Owenkillew Valley some 8km east of Gortin.
Walk northeast and slightly upwards along the Gorticashel road for 2 miles or so. Below lies the valley of Glenlark. Continue along this road until you meet another tarred road running downhill to the right.
Turn right at the “Stop” sign (IH593 895), walk south and downhill, cross a bridge over Glenlark River (IH991 889).
Beyond the bridge, walk steadily uphill until the road levels out. Note the hill to the south Crocknamoghil (335m). At the base of this hill and just above the valley floor is the district of Curraghinalt,important because deposits of gold have recently been found there.
Continue straight on and eventually downhill to a junction with a “Give Way” sign (IH 578 873), Turn right into Glencullin Rd and walk alongside the Owenkillew river. After less than a mile, turn right again at the “Give Way” junction (IH563 874) into Gorticashel road. An uphill walk returns you to Gorticashel Post Office (IH564 874).
From Cookstown via the Omagh Road (A505),drive for twelve miles or so. Immediately before “An Creagan” Centre turn right and continue to Greencastle village. Turn right in Greencastle village, keep on for five miles or so then bear right at a fork, keeping to the main road, . Soon cross the Owenkillew river at Glenhull bridge. Take left and drive along the Owenkillew valley. A short distance after crossing the newGlenlark bridge,turn right into Gorticashel road. Gorticashel P.O. Is a few hundred yards along this road-a good starting point with limited parking.
The walk is approximately 5.5 miles long and should take around 2 or 3 hours to complete. It is along quiet country roads, requiring around 750 ft. of climbing and descent. The route follows the valley shoulder into the interior of the hauntingly beautiful glen, crosses Glenlark river, climbs to the far side and follows the other shoulder back out. The Owenkillew valley is followed along Glencullin Rd. for a short distance before taking a right turn upwards and back to Gorticashel Post Office.