Heading out of Cullohill. Picture: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie
Interconnected scenic walks on the Laois Kilkenny border walk are set to be listed on a national atlas of rural walking routes after the striking of agreements with landowners.
The Binninea Walk in Cullahill, also known as the Cullohill Mountain loop, is to be listed on the Walks Scheme alongside the Gathabawn Walk which is just over the border in Co Kilkenny.
The scheme will see 14 landowners compensated in Laois and Kilkenny to allow walkers access their properties. Apart from creating a local amenity, the initiative aims to attract visitors from home and abroad off the path well beaten by many tourists.
Laois TD and Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan welcomed the announcement by Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development,
“The inclusion of Binninea Walk in the first phase of the expanded Walks Scheme is good news for local landowners and hikers, and will be a real boost to tourism in our area.
“Walking tourism has huge potential and can deliver real dividends to local hotels, BBs, restaurants, pubs and shops.
“Last year alone, almost 2.7 million overseas visitors to Ireland engaged in some form of cross-country walking or hiking. One in four of people doing a ‘staycation’ here in Ireland included walking or hiking as part of their holiday.
“The inclusion of Binninea Walk in this scheme is great news for local tourism and economic development,” he said.
The Scheme contracts the landowners and farmers, or their nominees, to undertake maintenance work on sections of National Waymarked Ways and other priority walks that traverse their lands. The scheme is administered at a local level by Local Development Companies (LDCs).
Minister Rings Department said the Wallks Scheme was launched in 2008 to facilitate the development and maintenance of key walking trails by private landholders. It said 12 of the LDCs employ Rural Recreation Officers (RROs) to assist with the delivery of the Scheme. These are funded by the Department of Rural & Community Development with a contribution from Fáilte Ireland.
At present, the Walks Scheme covers 39 trails around Ireland, involving 1,962 participant landowners and farmers and it is operated by the Department of Rural and Community Development. The Laois and Kilkenny walks were among 10 added to the scheme.