Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, announced on Wednesday, 4 December 2019, the addition of 10 new trails to the Walks Scheme operated by his Department. These are the first trails to be added as part of a phased expansion that will see the Walks Scheme doubling in size to 80 trails when all phases of the expansion are complete.
There are currently 39 trails covered by the Walks Scheme, involving 1,962 participant landowners and farmers. The Scheme contracts them, or their nominees, to undertake maintenance work on sections of National Waymarked Ways and other priority walks that traverse their lands. The Scheme is administered at a local level by Local Development Companies.
In announcing the expansion of the scheme, Minister Ring said:
"This expansion reflects the success of the Walks Scheme to-date in delivering high quality walking trails, and will help realise the Government’s commitment to double the number of trails in the scheme over time. Up to 40 new trails will be added when all phases of the expansion are complete.
Minister Ring continued:
“The expansion of the scheme follows a call for Expressions of Interest earlier this year which saw more than 50 applications being received.
“Up to 30 more walks will be added to the scheme over the next year, once my Department has completed a review of the Scheme and further trails are assessed to ensure that they meet the necessary standards to be included in the scheme."
Minister Ring concluded:
“This is good news for landowners and for the ever increasing number of people who want to get out and experience the beautiful outdoor areas that we have in such abundance. Investing in our trails also pays economic dividends. Thousands of tourists make walking, hiking, and other outdoor pursuits an important part of their stay in Ireland.”
Last year alone, almost 2.7 million overseas visitors engaged in some form of cross country walking or hiking. In addition, one in four of us included walking or hiking as part of our domestic holidays last year.
The 10 new trails included in the first phase of the expanded Walks Scheme are:
|County||Name of Trail||No of Landowners(approx.)||Length of Private Land (approx.)|
|Clare||East Clare Way||33||36.5 km|
|Galway||Hymany Way||40||60 km|
|Kilkenny||Gathabawn Loop Walk||4||2 km|
|Kilkenny||Kilmacoliver Loop Walk||3||3km|
|Laois||Binninea Walk Cullahill||10||4 km|
|Leitrim||Leitrim Way||120||24 km|
|Sligo||Keash Hill Trail||3||1.8 km|
|Tipperary||Ormond Way||49||31 km|
|Tipperary||Multeen Way||16||9.4 km|
|Wicklow||St Kevin's Way||5||2.5 km|