Cycling in Mullingar has just been given an added dimension with the development of the Westmeath Royal Canal Greenway. The new Greenway extends along a 32km stretch of the Royal Canal from the Meath county Boundary on the east to Coolnahay Harbour on the west, with plans to develop the remainder of the towpath to the Longford county boundary. The new cycling route presents lovers of cycling in Mullingar and beyond with the opportunity to explore the countryside in a quiet, safe and scenic environment.
Westmeath County Council in cooperation with Waterways Ireland & funding from the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport have developed the 46km length of the Royal Canal towpath as a walking & cycling route, called the Westmeath Royal Canal Greenway that stretches from the Westmeath/Meath county boundary east of D'Arcy's Bridge all the way to the Longford borer at Abbeyshrule.
While some of the canal towpath was always accessible to the public, other sections had become grassed over through lack of use over the years and was unsuitable for cycling except for those who enjoyed the challenge of off-road grass and gravel cycling. The active travel and the national cycle network funding scheme which was availed of by the Council saw the completion of a shared cycling and pedestrian track around the town of Mullingar. While this work was in progress the Council identified an opportunity to extend this to the county boundaries of Meath & Longford.
At this stage the cycle/walking path has been completed from the Meath Boundary to Coolnahay Harbour. The Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport provided further funding to complete the section west of the county from Coolnahay to the Longford boundary, which is now almost complete. This cycle/walking trail from the Meath County boundary to Mullingar will form part of the National Cycle Network, which when completed, will form a cycle route from Dublin to Galway. The section from Mullingar to Athlone - along the old railway line - has also been awarded funding by the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport and works are at an advanced stage on this section also with an expected opening date in July or August 2015.
The route provides the necessary safe, off road cycling & walking infrastructure that will encourage and promote increased cycling and walking activity in Westmeath.
The route is rated as ‘Easy’ and suitable for ‘Infrequent Cyclists’. However, for those who might be intending to cycle the route with children, please be aware that there are drops off the route both into the canal and sometimes off steep embankments.
The surface of the Greenway is ideal for cycling. There are stretches of tarmac surface, some tarred sections as well as quarry dust sections. It is possible to cycle the Greenway on a mountain bike, hybrid or even your road bike if you have 26mm tyres or wider.
The Greenway is a great attraction for cyclists, walkers, joggers, families and tourists alike. Why not give it a try. There are many access points from the road network onto the Greenway at regular intervals along its length - all marked on the map below and on the downloadable brochure attached at the bottom of this page - providing you with many options for doing some or all of the route. To be sure that you're on the offical route and on the correct side of the canal, always check that you're on the Royal Canal Way - this is signposted at the bridges and other access points. There are a number of bridges where you have to cross from one side of the canal to the other.
Don't forget that you're sharing the Greenway with other users, walkers, joggers, anglers and fellow cyclists. We advise that you fit a bell to your bike to alert walkers/joggers if you're approaching from behind. As with the open roads, we advise that you wear a helmet and keep the earphones out. So why not get out there into the countryside, away from the traffic and enjoy this fantastic amenity.
Visit greenway.westmeathcoco.ie for more information.
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