Wicklow Uplands Council warmly welcomes the recent announcement that County Wicklow’s growing trail network is to receive a funding allocation of €152,560 under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme. This considerable allocation will be used to interconnect and further develop new and established trails throughout the north and east of the county.
One of the key objectives of the project’s funding, is to connect a series of existing trails such as the Bray Head Loop, Belmont Way, Sugar Loaf Way and the Roundwood Reservoir Vartry Trails.
This network of trails forms part of Wicklow Uplands Council’s ambitious vision to develop and map a series of walks on designated trails that will offer visitors a scenic 60km route beginning at the Bray train and bus depot.
This extensive route will take in some of the most beautiful scenery found in Ireland and links to the villages of Kilmacanogue, Roundwood, Annamoe, Laragh and Rathdrum before finally finishing at Woodenbridge.
Once fully completed, the trails could be enjoyed in sections or in its entirety and offer endless choices through its connection to established trails such as the pilgrim path of St Kevin’s Way, the long-distance Wicklow Way and the planned Shillelagh to Arklow Greenway. A host of public and private transport services allows for greater access and the choice of starting and finishing points.
Following the announcement, Brian Dunne, Coordinator of Wicklow Uplands Council shared:
“News of this funding along with last year’s allocation for the construction of the Avonmore Way Link Bridge, brings the council’s overall vision of creating a new, long distance upland trail from Bray to Woodenbridge ever closer to becoming a reality”.
“We are delighted that the scheme recognises the valuable contribution that these trails make to opening up parts of our uplands and other natural settings for local communities and visitors to enjoy”.
County Wicklow continues to grow its international reputation as a leading centre for outdoor recreation, with its unique setting as Ireland’s largest continuous upland region, varied coastline and abundant rivers and lakes.
As well as the numerous health benefits associated with walking, County Wicklow Tourism’s ‘Wicklow Outdoors’ brand, which focuses on attracting national and international visitors keen to enjoy the many recreational activities on offer in the county, is proving to be hugely successful. According to official figures, 2018 saw 2.6 million overseas tourists engage in hiking or cross-country walking, spending an estimated €1.4 billion during their stay in Ireland.
Speaking about the project’s partnership approach, Mr. Dunne added,
“It is through close cooperation with all stakeholders including landowners and local communities, that has enabled over 500km of waymarked trails currently found in Wicklow, to be developed and maintained”.
Led by Wicklow County Council in conjunction with Wicklow Uplands Council, the funding is allocated under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme which is designed to provide funding for the development and maintenance of outdoor amenities such as trails, walkways, cycleways and blueways in rural areas across Ireland.
The scheme is a collaborative initiative between the Department of Rural and Community Development, Fáilte Ireland and the National Tourism Development Authority and this announcement sees a total of €8.4 million being allocated to 44 projects, on foot of applications made in 2019 under Measures 2 and 3 of the scheme.
According to Michael Nicholson, Director of Services at Wicklow County Council,
“Wicklow County Council are excited that Wicklow’s growing network of trails has received this important funding allocation under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme”.
“We have a spectacular landscape that deserves to be discovered and enjoyed by all, and our trails offer a perfect opportunity to attract visitors keen to experience Wicklow’s renowned beauty”.
County Wicklow Partnership and the Rural Recreation Officer, a post formerly held by Bryan Fennell, have collaborated extensively with this project.