- Major expansion of ‘Walks Scheme’ to boost outdoor recreation and rural tourism
- Number of trails to increase from 80 to 150 over next two years
- Department to work with over 2,500 farmers to open up the countrywide to walkers, hikers, cyclists and tourists
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, has announced funding of €2.4 million to develop 70 new walking trails across the country.
The major expansion of the Department’s Walks Scheme will see the number of outdoor trails increase from 80 to 150 over the next two years.
The initiative is designed to boost outdoor recreation and rural tourism and will see the Scheme work with over 2,500 farmers to open up the countryside to walkers, hikers cyclists and tourists.
Under the Walks Scheme, funding is provided to farmers and other landowners to maintain the trails that travel through their holdings.
At present, 2,200 farmers or landowners are participating – with Minister Humphreys today opening up a new call for expressions of interest.
The major expansion of the Scheme is a key commitment of the new National Outdoor Recreation Strategy, ‘Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors’.
Making the announcement on the Lung Lough Gara Way in Castlerea, Co. Roscommon, Minister Humphreys stated:
Our walkways and outdoor trails showcase the unique beauty of our rural towns and villages.
They attract millions of visitors every single year and provide people of all ages with the opportunity to get out for some exercise and fresh air.
So today, I’m delighted to announce a major expansion of my Department’s ‘Walks Scheme’ – which we expect will see an additional 70 trails brought on board.
This is all about partnering with farmers and landowners to open up the countrywide – benefitting our walkers, hikers, cyclists and tourists alike.
There are already 2,200 farmers and landowners involved in the scheme and I want to thank them for facilitating access to these fantastic trails.
The scheme’s expansion, underpinned by an investment of €2.4 million, will see the number of trails increase to 150 over the next two years.”
The Minister concluded:
Today, I am formally launching a call for expressions of interest as part of this initiative.
I want this expansion to focus on counties which have few or no trails approved under the Walks Scheme.
We need to balance development and ensure that all counties have high quality trails for tourists and local communities alike.
I am also committed to reviewing the number of Rural Recreation Officers currently funded by my Department to deliver the Walks Scheme, particularly where a county is approved a trail under the Scheme and where there is currently no Rural Recreation Officer in place.
I would therefore encourage potential applicants such as trail management committees, community groups or other similar entities to contact their nearest Local Development Company to make an expression of interest for inclusion in the scheme.