COMMENT & ANALYSIS: A substantial section of the new Waterford Greenway opened to the public last month. The section, which stretches 23km from Dungarvan to Kilmacthomas Workhouse, is open to pedestrians and cyclists and follows the route of the old Waterford-Dungarvan railway, which last operated as a commercial railway in 1987.
The remaining section of the Waterford Greenway, from Kilmacthomas to Waterford, is expected to open in early 2017, resulting in an unbroken 46km route from Dungarvan all the way to Waterford City.
The Waterford Greenway boasts some excellent facilities, not least of which is the 3 metre wide surface which varies in different sections from a chip-and-tar to smooth tarmacadam finish. The use of the old railway line means that there are no significant gradients to tackle anywhere along the greenway and this, combined with the absence of motor traffic, means it is suitable for cyclists of any age, ability, or fitness level. Indeed, many of the people that we encountered were cycling in large family groups, with kids ranging from toddlers to teens.
The many highlights along the greenway include the viaducts at Kilmacthomas and Durrow, the 418-foot long tunnel at Ballyvoyle, and the spectacular panorama from high above Ballyclamper Beach. There are no lowlights on the route, with the scenery changing constantly and old railway stations revealing themselves at regular intervals along the quiet, peaceful track.
There are numerous dedicated free car parks along the greenway. Private bike hire companies are operating from each end of the greenway, offering a range of adult and childrens’ bikes as well as trailers for babies and toddlers. As the greenway is still quite new there are not yet any obvious places to stop for tea & coffee or something to eat, but it probably won’t be long too before those commercial opportunities are grasped.
We parked at Kilmacthomas Workhouse, which has free parking and toilet facilities, and cycled towards Dungarvan. A leisurely cycle, with frequent stops for photos and to take in the views, took us just under two hours to get to Dungarvan. We stopped there for a bite to eat before cycling back along the greenway to Kilmacthomas, with the entire 46km trip taking us a little longer than four hours, including stops.
IMAGES: Kieran Ryan