Bray Head Loop, Belmont Way, Sugar Loaf Way and the Roundwood Reservoir Vartry trails will be connected using a funding allocation of €152,560 under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme.
This allocation will be used to interconnect and further develop new and established trails throughout the north and east of the county. One of the key objectives of the project's funding, is to connect a series of existing trails.
This network forms part of Wicklow Uplands Council's ambitious vision to develop and map a series of walks on designated trails that will offer visitors a scenic 60 km route beginning at the Bray train and bus depot. This extensive route will take in some of the most beautiful scenery found in Ireland and links to the villages of Kilmacanogue, Roundwood, Annamoe, Laragh, and Rathdrum, before finally finishing at Woodenbridge.
Once fully completed, the trails could be enjoyed in sections or in its entirety and offer endless choices through its connection to established trails such as the pilgrim path of St Kevin's Way, the long-distance Wicklow Way and the planned Shillelagh to Arklow Greenway. A host of public and private transport services allows for greater access and the choice of starting and finishing points.
News of this funding along with last year's allocation for the construction of the Avonmore Way Link Bridge, brings the council's overall vision ever closer to becoming a reality.
'The council is delighted that the scheme recognises the valuable contribution that these trails make to opening up parts of our uplands and other natural settings for local communities and visitors to enjoy,' it announced in a statement.
'County Wicklow continues to grow its international reputation as a leading centre for outdoor recreation, with its unique setting as Ireland's largest continuous upland region, varied coastline and abundant rivers and lakes.'
As well as the numerous health benefits associated with walking, County Wicklow Tourism's 'Wickow Outdoors' brand, which focuses on attracting national and international visitors keen to enjoy the many recreational activities on offer in the county, is proving to be hugely successful. According to official figures, 2018 saw 2.6 million overseas tourists engage in hiking or cross-country walking, spending an estimated €1.4 billion during their stay in Ireland.
It is through close cooperation with all stakeholders including landowners and local communities, that has enabled the development and maintenance of over 500 km of way-marked trails currently found in Wicklow.
Led by Wicklow County Council in conjunction with Wicklow Uplands Council, the funding is allocated under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme which is designed to provide funding for the development and maintenance of outdoor amenities such as trails, walkways, cycleways and blue-ways in rural areas across Ireland.
The scheme is a collaborative initiative between the Department of Rural and Community Development, Fáilte Ireland and the National Tourism Development Authority and this announcement sees a total of €8.4 million being allocated to 44 projects, on foot of applications made in 2019 under Measures 2 and 3 of the scheme.
County Wicklow Partnership and the Rural Recreation Officer, a post formerly held by Bryan Fennell, have collaborated extensively with this project.