Saturday 9 April 2016

An early wander along the the Deise Greenway

The Deise Greenway is a new project to convert the old Waterford to Dungarvan railway line into a walkway/cycleway amenity for locals and tourists and I got a lucky break in the weather today that allowed me to walk along the first 10km or so of the new section from Clonea Strand, over the Ballyvoyle Viaduct through the tunnel to Durrow and then up to a highpoint with a view over to the Comeraghs and Coumshingaun near Lemybrien. That’s only about a quarter of the final end to end path but it’s still a damn fine walk.

It’s great to see this sort of development catch on and I’m doubly chuffed to see it in my hometown. Waterford County Council have already put in and opened a new car park at the starting point of the Greenway on the approach to Clonea Strand which is very useful for tourists and those travelling from outside the area. You can also start the walk/cycle from Dungarvan itself as the existing walking and cycle path along the old railway line starts at the harbour itself on the Abbeyside side of the town but it’s very convenient to have a good parking spot at the start of the new section.

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Some of the new bridges on the slow rise from Clonea to Ballyvoyle as the greenway first dips under the coast road out to the Copper Coast and then rises up to the height needed to cross the valley.

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The rise coming up to Ballyvoyle delivers some really pretty panoramic views of Helvick and Ring back across Dungarvan Bay.

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The viaduct is surprisingly low key when you walk along it. It’s a lot more impressive looking at people crossing it from the road below.

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The greenway then rapidly burrows into the hillside and you get to hike through the tunnel. This is a lot darker, longer and wetter inside than you’d think. There are stalagmites inside those escape recesses all along the tunnel. The council are putting in lights as part of the development as they are definitely necessary but they are not working yet so if you are heading this way any time soon bring a good torch as you will need it and if you are cycling make 100% sure to take off your sunglasses when entering the tunnel. I saw one cyclist make that mistake and have to crash stop in a total panic as it is pitch black in there once you get any significant distance past either entrance.

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O’Mahony’s pub and then the old ruined Durrow station follow shortly after the tunnel. There’s a nice new car park going in near the pub too which will make this part of the Greenway much more accessible for walkers and provide a useful stopping off point for some refreshments.

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At the moment the development works taper off about 11 or 12km outside of Dungarvan. The clearing tasks appear to be complete all the way to Kilmacthomas, and probably even all the way to the existing cycle path/walkway from Waterford to Portlaw but the final surfacing and all the rest of the tidying up hasn’t been completed yet. There is also a fairly spectacular new pedestrian bridge over the N25 on the Waterford side of Kilmacthomas that is being put in right now so I have a lot more of this walk to cover over the next couple of months.

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