The Sligo Champion - - NEWS -

IT’S of­fi­cial. Sligo has some of the best tracks and trails in the coun­try ac­cord­ing to those in the know.

Deirdre Kennedy who works with Sligo Leader has helped to de­velop the mul­ti­tude of stun­ning walks across Yeats county. She says we are lead­ing the way ‘in terms of ru­ral re­cre­ation.’

Of course most of you al­ready knew this too. Our pop­u­lar walks have al­ways been utilised by lo­cals who avail of the nat­u­ral beauty and breath­tak­ing scenery on their doorstep. And within weeks of a new trail open­ing, peo­ple from all over the county have a well worn track beaten along its path.

But the de­vel­op­ment of the many beau­ti­ful walks in Sligo has taken years of plan­ning, in­vest­ment and labour, not to men­tion co-op­er­a­tion and good­will in­volv­ing lo­cal and na­tional agen­cies, landown­ers and of course the walk­ing com­mu­ni­ties them­selves.

Sligo Leader has been in­stru­men­tal in de­vel­op­ing the walks and trails of Sligo.

In 2008 Sligo was one of 12 ar­eas cho­sen to op­er­ate a scheme to de­velop Ru­ral Rec- reation. A Ru­ral Re­cre­ation Of­fi­cer from Leader, Deirdre Kennedy was ap­pointed to over­see the roll out of the Walks Scheme.

Deirdre has worked to sup­port all stake­hold­ers in the de­vel­op­ment, main­te­nance and pro­mo­tion of trail based out­door re­cre­ation across Sligo.

While at first the main fo­cus was the de­vel­op­ment of walk­ing trails, the brief then changed to place a greater em­pha­sis on the de­vel­op­ment, co-or­di­na­tion and pro­mo­tion of the broader re­cre­ation prod­uct.

Deirdre works with Sligo County Coun­cil as part of the Sligo Walks team to sup­port and as­sist com­mu­ni­ties to de­velop trails from short loop to long dis­tance walks and to pro­vide walk­ing tourists with sup­port and ad­vice.

Deirdre also works with com­mu­nity groups and small busi­ness en­ter­prises who want to ac­cess ad­vice, sup­port and fund­ing for the de­vel­op­ment and im­prove­ment of recre­ational projects and ac­tiv­ity tourism.

An­other el­e­ment of the role is to li­aise with both landown­ers and main­te­nance teams on the up­keep of trails and to as­sist with ne­go­ti­a­tions to re­solve ac­cess dis­putes.

Deirdre ex­plains: “With­out the good­will of the landown­ers who through per­mis­sive ac­cess al­low for the de­vel­op­ment of these walks and other recre­ational infrastructure this would not be pos­si­ble. It is im­por­tant that the con­cerns of landown­ers are ad­dressed and that good­will is main­tained.”

She adds: “Con­sid­er­able labour and ex­pen­di­ture has been in­vested in the de­vel­op­ment of new and ex­ist­ing walk­ing trails in re­cent years in Sligo. How­ever, as the pop­u­lar­ity of walk­ing con­tin­ues to in­crease, so too does the on­go­ing main­te­nance along the var­i­ous trails.

“The Ru­ral So­cial Scheme op­er­ated by Sligo LEADER Part­ner­ship has been in­valu­able. It’s aimed at lo­cal in­come farm­ers and an­glers and pro­vides sup­port to them.”

Ru­ral Recre­ational Of­fi­cer with Sligo Leader Deirdre Kennedy who over­sees the roll out of the walks scheme across County Sligo.

Main­te­nance work­ers from the ru­ral so­cial scheme main­tain­ing walk­ways in Sligo

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