Over the last ten years, Wicklow Uplands Council has initiated and participated in a number of projects to improve and manage the recreational use of the Wicklow countryside including:
Wicklow Outdoor Recreation Strategy 2009-2013
Following the publication of the National Countryside Recreation Strategy in Autumn 2006 by Comhairle na Tuaithe a consultation process began in Wicklow to produce a countywide recreation strategy for Wicklow. The Wicklow Countryside Recreation Strategy 2009-2013 was developed through a local partnership led by County Wicklow Partnership and including Coillte, Fáilte Ireland, Irish Sports Council, the National Parks & Wildlife Service, Wicklow County Council, Wicklow IFA and Wicklow Uplands Council. The project was co-ordinated by Helen Lawless, then Access Officer for Wicklow Uplands Council.
The strategy identifies how we can increase local economic benefit and enhance the health and well-being of our local population, while respecting the spectacular natural environment which is the source of these opportunities. The strategy identified an overall vision for outdoor recreation in Co. Wicklow that by the year 2020:
‘County Wicklow has a vibrant sustainable outdoor recreation culture based on partnership, trust and mutual respect’
Wicklow Outdoor Recreation Committee
The Wicklow Outdoor Recreation Committee was established to oversee implementation of the strategy. Actions to achieve these objectives were agreed by the project partners and implementation of the strategy is ongoing. Wicklow Uplands Council participates on this committee representing the non-statutory interests in outdoor recreation.
Wicklow Countryside Access Service
The Countryside Access Service was a joint Wicklow Rural Partnership/Wicklow Uplands Council project which commenced in July 2005 with the aim of establishing a network of access routes, on private lands in the Wicklow uplands by means of voluntary agreements with landowners.The project successfully developed four access routes at Glenmalure, Lough Dan, Little Sugar Loaf and Pound Lane, Lacken. The Glenmalure access route was developed in partnership with Mountain Meitheal volunteers. The project supported and complemented the aims of the National Countryside Recreation Strategy and was supported financially by Comhairle na Tuaithe, Wicklow County Council, Wicklow Rural Partnership and Wicklow Uplands Council.
Wicklow Rural Recreation Officer
The Access Project was superseded nationally by the ‘Walks Scheme’ and the appointment of a Rural Recreation Officer for County Wicklow with the following remit:
To implement the Walks Scheme in County Wicklow
To coordinate and oversee the management and enhancement of trails in the county
To assist local communities developing new routes
To assist in the marketing and promotion of other trails in the region
This position is funded by the by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs and Wicklow County Council.
This is a national scheme through which landowners are paid to maintain and upgrade nationally approved walks on private land. If you would like to develop a walk in your local area, contact Patrick Mellon, the Rural Recreation Officer for County Wicklow at County Wicklow Partnership.
The Wicklow Sustainable Trails Network Project was established to co-ordinate management of the Wicklow Way, St Kevin’s Way and other trails in the Wicklow region. The project resulted in a marked improvement on the long distance walking routes in County Wicklow.
This partnership project involved key stakeholders and major landowners along the Wicklow Way and was managed by Wicklow Uplands Council. The project commenced in July, 2004 and was completed in February 2007. The total budget for the project was €235,000, 50% granted by Fáilte Ireland and 50% contributed by the project partners.
The project delivered a five year development, management and promotional plan for a new ‘Wicklow Trails Network’ with a focus on the Wicklow Way and St Kevin’s Way. It focused on developing sustainable rural tourism, encouraging a healthy local population in County Wicklow and managing visitor pressure from Dublin on the Wicklow countryside. A step-by-step guide to developing a new walking trail was produced as part of the project. It is a useful aid to community groups interested in trail development.
The Avonmore Way
The Avonmore Way is an important and strategic route in Wicklow as it provides a pedestrian link with train and bus services in Rathdrum to Laragh. The development of the trail has been undertaken by Wicklow Uplands Council in partnership with Coillte, NPWS, County Wicklow Partnership, private landowner Lucy Morgan, Rathdrum Parish and St Lawrence O'Toole Diocesan Trust, the Parish Committee for Clara Vale Church, Laragh Development Association and Rathdrum Tidy Towns Association.
The Avonmore Way is a 12km trail which follows a mixture of minor roads, forest roads and tracks. It provides stunning views of the Wicklow Mountains as it skirts around Trooperstown Hill before winding its way through the beautiful Clara Vale Nature Reserve alongside the Avonmore River. The trail is durable underfoot and suitable for all fitness levels. There is trail head signage at the beginning of the walk and the route is marked with yellow arrows on a black background along the way. The walk starts from the Laragh side at Trooperstown Forest Carpark and from the Rathdrum side at Stump of the Castle Forest Entrance.
Due to Wicklow's proximity to Dublin, tourism in the county is dominated by day visitors. The development of this trail will promote independent visitors to the area who can stay longer and boost the local economy. This important link will also enable hikers to join the network of trails in the Wicklow uplands including, the Wicklow Way and the St Kevin's Way. And of course visitors in the Laragh area will have the opportunity to walk to Rathdrum and Avondale House. Therefore, this is a very important link for Wicklow tourism and the local communities.
Wicklow Uplands Council plans to develop further links from ends of the trail with the local towns. The long term vision is to realise a long distance off road route that will link Kilmacanogue to Woodenbridge.
An Aerial Tour of the Avonmore Way. Credit to John Heraty