Leafy Loop Walk
The profile of the scenic Leafy Loop walk in Durrow is set to be raised with more visitors likely to follow following its inclusion in the National Walks Scheme by the Government.
It is among 31 new trails added to the scheme by Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys which it is hoped will boost outdoor recreation and rural tourism.
Under the scheme, funding is provided to farmers and other landowners to maintain the trails that travel through their holdings.
The announcement will see three landowners in the Durrow area being supported to ensure that walk is accessible to people who want to use the 23 km trail.
The Leafy Loop around Durrow is described a glorious walk through forests, by rivers, up hills to oversee the valley, and down into the charming village itself.
The Leafy Loop is said a longer version of the Dunmore Loop walk which follows the same route until a divergence just before Clonageera House on the other side of the village.
While described as moderate, it can take up to six hours to complete the trail which can also be enjoyed in shorter sections.
The scheme is administered by 16 Local Development Companies (LDCs) who deliver the scheme in their area on behalf of the Department. Laois Partnership Company oversees the scheme in Laois where the Rural Recreation Officer is Conor Browne. The other two Laois approved schemes are the Slieve Bloom Way, Offaly Way.
Laois Offaly TD and Minister of State Seán Fleming welcomed the inclusion.
"Laois Partnership will work with all involved in Durrow Leafy Loop to ensure the walkway is maintained to the highest standard.
"Durrow Leafy Loop offers beautiful views of Laois countryside and inclusion now in the Walks Scheme will mean it can be enjoyed and experienced by even more families, local walkers and tourists.
"These additional trails being added today are part of Phase 2 and were drawn from the Expressions of Interest previously submitted. I would like to congratulate all involved in this process and their success in their application," he said.
Minister Humphreys also today published a review of the Walks Scheme, which sets out a number of recommendations aimed at enhancing the Walks Scheme and the role of Rural Recreation Officers, and will be implemented in consultation with key stakeholders.
The Minister made the announcements during a visit to officially open St Declan’s Way in Co. Waterford, a 115km trail involving 45 farmers and landowners which is amongst the trails being added to the scheme.
“Our walkways, trails, greenways, blueways and cycleways are a defining feature of Rural Ireland," said Minister Humphreys.
“They have been a godsend throughout the Covid-19 Pandemic – providing so many of us with the opportunity to get out for some exercise and to meet up with family and friends.
“Over the past number of months, we have seen unprecedented investment in our outdoor amenities, underpinned by the most ambitious ever policy for Rural Ireland, ‘Our Rural Future’.
“Today’s announcement is further action behind that policy. By adding 31 new trails to the Walks Scheme, we are opening up our rural countryside further to walkers, hikers, adventurists, cyclists, as well as domestic and international tourists.
“And it means we are investing in some of the most picturesque locations in the country, so that they can be enjoyed and experienced by millions of people every year.”
The Minister added:
“In rolling out the Walks Scheme, my Department works closely with our Local Development Companies, community groups and rural farmers and landowners. We are indebted to our farmers and other landowners throughout the country that facilitate access to these wonderful trails and who now, through this scheme, are being funded to maintain the walks to the high standard we have all come to expect.
“Another important part of today’s announcement is the decision to appoint up to 8 new Rural Recreation Officers, as well as improving the salaries of the Rural Recreation Officers that are already carrying out great work across the country. These individuals are crucial in implementing the Walks Scheme and working with all stakeholders to enhance our outdoor amenities.
“As Minister, I am committed to expanding the Walks Scheme so that more communities can reap the benefits.
“I am also committed to looking at further increasing the number of RROs nationwide based on the outcome of our new National Outdoor Recreation Strategy, which is currently being developed and which will make Rural Ireland an even better place to live, visit and raise a family.”
Minister Humphreys concluded:
“I am also today publishing a review of the Walks Scheme, which was carried out by Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI).
“The recommendations in the review are extensive, covering every aspect of scheme delivery and impacting across a range of stakeholders.
“Given the breadth of issues covered and that many impact beyond my Department, I intend to establish a stakeholder consultation group to explore the recommendations and how they could be implemented at a local level.
“Finally, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the Local Development Companies, Trail management groups and especially the farmers and landowners for their excellent cooperation with my Department.”
The report on the review of the Walks Scheme can be on gov.ie here:
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