Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Andrew Doyle, says he’s very concerned about the possible negative implications for walking routes after a court award of €40,000 in damages to a hillwalker, who was injured when she fell on a boardwalk on the Wicklow Way.
“Here in Wicklow we have worked very hard to develop an open trails policy. Walking as a freely available recreational activity is one of the bedrocks of our tourism industry in the county and crucially important to the local economy.
“County Wicklow Partnership has a Trails Officer who has worked with landowners, the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Coillte to develop a range of great walking routes throughout the upland area.
“Just this morning I attended the launch of the Avonmore walk. It’s a strikingly beautiful route that links Laragh village to Rathdrum, along the sides of the Avonmore river. I have no doubt that this walking route will prove extremely popular and it’s planned to extend this trail, eventually linking from Kilmacanogue to Arklow and Shillelagh, utilising old railway lines on some parts of the route.
“A walk such as this has huge potential for the local economy. Part of the trails however pass over private lands and I would be very concerned if the court award to a hillwalker this week had any negative implications for the future of walks such as this in Wicklow. The Mountaineering Council of Ireland share my concern and have said they’re very disappointed by the award, which they’ve described as not helpful. They’ve also pointed out that it does not recognise that risk is inherent in hillwalking or the simple fact that accidents do happen.
“In this beautiful county our countryside is one of our greatest assets and it’s vital for both walkers and locals that the open trails policy continues and everyone is free to enjoy all that Wicklow has to offer.”