Saturday 21 October 2017

Waterford Greenway: 10 tips for Ireland's longest off-road cycling route

Cycling the new Waterford Greenway? Try these tips before hitting the saddle...

Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

Greenways are inspiring a whole new wave of casual cyclists — with Waterford’s stunning 46km trail just the latest example.

Here’s my checklist from a recent trip.

1. Hire a bike

Unless you live locally, or make a habit of packing bikes, don’t bother bringing yours. A €20/€10 hire includes helmets and locks. For €45, electric bikes are an option for the less fit or able (or lazy). Shuttles can drop and collect riders along the route, too. See waterfordgreenwaybikehire.com and thegreenwayman.com for hire.

2. Pack smart

A helmet, water, snacks and fully charged phone are essential. Bring a light backpack, rain jacket and layers to whip on and off as you go.

Cyclists on the Waterford Greenway
Cyclists on the Waterford Greenway
Waterford Greenway. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Coach House Coffee, Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
A viaduct along the Waterford Greenway, Ireland's longest off-road walking and cycling experience.
Tom and Helen O'Mahony in An Siopa Beag, Durrow, Co. Waterford. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
A cyclist on the Waterford Greenway.
Leah Moran-Saunders (5), Joshua Moran-Davy (10) and Reuben Moran-Davy (7) from Passage East, Co Waterford. Picture: Patrick Browne

3. Wear padded shorts

Fair-weather cyclist? Double up with a padded saddle. You’ll thank me later.

4. And sunscreen...

As with Mayo’s Great Western Greenway, the wind is deceptive. Don’t be the eejit with a face like smoked salmon at dinner.

Waterford Greenway. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Waterford Greenway. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
A viaduct along the Waterford Greenway, Ireland's longest off-road walking and cycling experience.

5. Pace yourself

46km is a fair old cycle for anyone who doesn’t spend Saturdays in Lycra. Be realistic about your fitness and ability — and your children’s too. Instead of the full greenway, why not try a section? The 10km from Dungarvan to Durrow is a stunner.

6. Cycle smart

As a general rule, cycle on the left, pass on the right, and don’t be shy about using your bell. (it's hard to hear cyclists approaching from behind).

7. Plan your stops

The Waterford & Suir Valley Railway (wsvrailway.ie), Mount Congreve Gardens (mountcongreve.com), Coach House Coffee and O’Mahony’s pub (see below) are possibilities. Think of a greenway cycle as touring, not a training spin.

8. Refuel at this coaching ticket

Coach House, kilmacthomas.jpg
Coach House Coffee, Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

“Kilmacthomas is on a high,” Stephen Lynch, one of the local owners of Coach House Coffee (coachhousecoffee.ie), told me.

Set in a historic Famine workhouse blooming with flowers, the café opened in March and features heaps of Waterford goodies on its menus — from floury blaas and Barron’s Bakery bread to O’Reilly’s sausages (the locals’ choice) and Flahavan’s porridge and flapjacks.

First to vanish from the daily dessert cabinet? The homemade gluten-free brownies and carrot cake... make sure you beat the peloton to it!

9. Don't miss this sweet shop...

iwTom 1 Helen1 (Read-Only).jpg
Tom and Helen O'Mahony in An Siopa Beag, Durrow, Co. Waterford. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

O’Mahony’s is a haiku of a hostelry in Durrow.

Run by Tom and Helen O’Mahony (above), who have become unlikely Greenway celebs, it’s a pub dripping in nostalgia — from black and white railway photos to the old-school welcome (“When you’re here, you’re home,” they told me).

Tom once took the Great Southern and Western Railway trains to school (they ceased operation in 1967), providing a living link with the Victorian tunnel and Ballyvoyle viaduct nearby. If you stop off, pop into the adjoining Siopa Beag... time travel never tasted so sweet.

10. Linger longer

Kilmurrin Beach, Copper Coast, Waterford (3).JPG
Kilmurrin Beach, Copper Coast, Co. Waterford

Don't stop at the greenway. Waterford may not feature on the Wild Atlantic Greenway (it starts/ends at Kinsale), but the Copper Coast (coppercoastgeopark.com) is one of the sweetest stretches of coastline in Ireland.

Drive from Dungarvan to Tramore, soaking up the sea stacks, old copper mining husks and pretty villages like Annestown and Stradbally along the way.

See visitwaterfordgreenway.com for more.

Online Editors

Editors Choice

Also in Life