Wednesday 18 September 2019

Council slammed for closing popular walk

The Cliff Walk in Wicklow.
The Cliff Walk in Wicklow.

Myles Buchanan

Wicklow County Council has been condemned for closing off a cliff path popular with local walkers and tourists alike.

Last week, the council erected a fence blocking off the picturesque cliff walk from the Glen Turn entrance, with a 'Do Not Enter' warning sign, informing visitors 'Extreme Caution - This section of the coastal path is closed due to erosion and is unsafe for walkers.'

Regular users of the walk have criticised the council for failing to carry out any restoration works after an attempt to close the same route in 2001 was ignored by the public.

Ned Cussen, Friends of the Murrough Chairperson, said 'What next? Will this path be allowed to further deteriorate like the many empty shops along the Main Street? Will another fabulous asset be left empty and deserted for the lack of just a bit of attention? Friends of the Murrough have done much of the preparatory work and we now need the council to sit down and work out the logistics of how we can get this done before word gets out that Wicklow just doesn't care.'

Friends of the Murrough had planned to use the cliff walk over the weekend as part of an organised Heritage Week event but instead had to reroute their annual walk from Glen Turn Beach to Lime Kiln Bay.

In 2001, warning signs were placed on the car park overlooking Glen Turn, warning that the route was unsafe, however, the locations still remains a popular spot for walkers and fishermen and attracts a fair number of tourists as well.

'It has been 13 years since the council put up the signage in the car park, yet they have done nothing to improve the situation. We costed some engineering works that might be required and it wouldn't cost anymore than €25,000 to bring the path inwards and place some railings along the cliff walk. Closing off the walk also has to be bad for business in Wicklow. You would be surprised at the number of visitors who, after enjoying the walk, stop off in Wicklow town for some refreshments and a bite to eat,' said Ned.

Charlie Kavanagh has been a regular user of the walk for the past 25 years. While he appreciates erosion is a problem and could present a serious threat to walkers, he can't believe the council has closed off the whole route without providing any alternative options.

'Immediately above the dangerous section is an alternative route on a rough rocky section that would be perfectly safe for walkers to use. A new path has already been beaten down into the dense fern growth beyond it, so there should be no need to deprive tourists and townspeople of the wonderful pleasure that is the Brides Head/Wicklow Head cliff walk. Instead of the fence blocking access to the beautiful walk, it should be realigned to protect the dangerous section from walkers and allow their safe passage.'

He added that it is important that Wicklow County Council acts to keep walkers safe, but doesn't feel blocking access with 'ugly barriers when no alternative options exist' is helpful.

'Health and safety is a concept we all agree is important for the protection of the general public, but this unnecessary belt and braces blockage on a coarse walking route when a perfectly feasible solution works, is nonsense. Somebody in Wicklow County Council needs to get a grip and see the damage they are really doing to our 'wild' heritage, one of Wicklow's jewels. Depriving Wicklow residents and our visitors of a fantastic experience is not in anyone's interest.'

Wicklow People