Monday 19 November 2018

Vartry walks project is helping young and old to enjoy nature

Peggy Kearney and Tara Power from St Catherine's who have been making good use of the newly accessible walks
Peggy Kearney and Tara Power from St Catherine's who have been making good use of the newly accessible walks
Terry Kavanagh, Charlie Kelly, Cllr Shay Cullen, Grace Cullen, Leah Byrne, Ella McAulay, Monica Byrne and Tracey Byrne enjoying a stroll

Mary Fogarty

A network of walks at the Vartry Reservoirs in Roundwood has opened up the amenity to the whole community, and work is constantly being done behind the scenes by members of the Roundwood and District Community Council.

Since 2015, the voluntary organisation has worked to restore over 10km of the trails around Vartry, many of which were overgrown and in need of maintenance.

Paths have been cleared, thousands of tonnes of stone laid and plans continue to be made for even more work to come.

A walker of a myriad of trails amongst the generations-old trees can expect to spot rabbits, herons, other small birds and animals and even deer.

'The overall goal is to have three loop walks completed,' said spokeswoman for Roundwood and District Community Council Monica Byrne.

'We have two out of the three completely finished and have one small section to do, two small bridges.'

They have an application in for rural development funding and hope to be awarded €30,000 to complete the project.

The organisation has €10,000 and is hopeful that the remaining funds will be forthcoming.

They got funding last September as part of the 'NeighbourWood' scheme and have achieved a huge amount since then.

The aim of the Roundwood NeighbourWood Project is to enhance the variety of walks within this woodland for all users and to provide greater linkages between the village of Roundwood and the network of walking trails that surround the reservoirs.

The new community woodland is located just outside the village and includes surfaced trails, signs, the removal of dead trees and undergrowth and maintenance.

Monica said that a forester came in to do a review of the woodland area before the work was done.

Fortunately, as dead trees and dangerous branches had been removed, the Vartry project didn't suffer any major damage during recent stormy weather.

Monica said that a new walk, the 'Woodpecker Walk', is just 2km, making it perfect for children and beginners.

They are currently waiting for interpretive map boards to be installed, hopefully by the end of February, covering the history of the reservoir, wildlife and ecology of the area.

Monica said that the Roundwood and District Community Council has held events at the walks in order to raise awareness, as well as funds.

A candlelight walk at Halloween yielded €700, shared with the soccer club, and more importantly introduced people to a fantastic resource.

They held a 'duathlon' on December 27, putting to good use all the bikes Santa brought to households around Roundwood.

The environment was safe for children, and one lady of 60 told Monica she had never had the pleasure of walking in that area before.

The efforts of the volunteers have not been wasted. Walkers have taken to the trails in large numbers to enjoy the idyllic environment and fresh air. The local economy in the village has also seen some benefits, with visitors popping into town for a bite to eat, cup of tea or to call into a shop.

Wicklow People