Vartry walks project is help­ing young and old to en­joy na­ture

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - NEWS - By 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.

Terry Ka­vanagh, Char­lie Kelly, Cllr Shay Cullen, Grace Cullen, Leah Byrne, Ella McAu­lay, Mon­ica Byrne and Tracey Byrne en­joy­ing a stroll.

Peggy Kear­ney and Tara Power from St Cather­ine’s, who have been mak­ing good use of the newly ac­ces­si­ble walks.

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