Northern Ireland

Hot air balloon lands on Maghera street

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMaghera street wakes up to unexpected visitor

Residents on a street in Maghera, County Londonderry, awoke to an unlikely sight during the Sperrins Balloon Festival.

One hot air balloon ended up slightly off course and landed on a street in the Gortmore area of the town.

Owner Jeff Lawton admitted it was not exactly a scheduled stop, but he said there was never any sense of danger.

"The winds were light and we could see there was a big grassy area so we thought: 'Right, that'll work!'

Image copyright Michael Regan
Image caption Jeff Lawton, who lives in Gilford, was in County Londonderry for the Sperrins Balloon Festival

"There were no power lines so we knew it was safe enough."

Mr Lawton, who lives in Gilford, was in County Londonderry for the Sperrins Balloon Festival which runs once a year.

Image copyright Michael Regan
Image caption The conditions around the Sperrin Mountains were perfect for the festival

He said a number of bemused residents came out of their houses to see what was happening.

"I'm sure it was an unusual sight to wake up to, but they seemed happy enough."

Patrick Bradley was equally welcoming when a balloon landed on his property.

"They landed on a field near my house. We were having a barbeque so I invited them in for a drink and in return, they offered to take me up for a trip the following day.

Image copyright Michael Regan
Image caption The balloonists also landed at a house that featured in the BBC programme Grand Designs - and owner Patrick Bradley invited them in for a drink

"I'm actually not great with heights - to be honest, I accepted the offer after a few drinks - so I had to psyche myself up for it!

"But they're very experienced pilots so I was in good hands and really enjoyed it - the view was amazing."

Image copyright Michael Regan
Image caption The balloons were a beautiful sight as the sun went down on the Sperrins

Jeff Lawton said the conditions for this year's festival were much better than those of previous years.

"The festival has been running for years now, but sometimes it turns into a bit of a drinking holiday because of the weather. This year, we were very lucky - it was fantastic."