We're happy to report that the second Westmeath Greenway, along the old Mullingar-Athlone railway line, has been officially opened. Known as the Old Rail Trail, this is the Westmeath section of the Dublin–Galway Greenway and extends from the existing Royal Canal Greenway in Mullingar to the town of Athlone. While the route of the Royal Canal Greenway extends north of Mullingar towards Coolnahay and is now completed to the Longford boundary just short of Abbeyshrule, the route of the Dublin–Galway Greenway branches off from the canal towpath joining the former Mullingar–Athlone railway track, passing through the scenic landscape of County Westmeath via the villages of Castletown Geoghegan, Streamstown and onto the town of Moate before arriving in the Shannon side town of Athlone.
The walking and cycling route consists of a three metre macadam cycle track which will run along side the railway tracks. The tracks will not be lifted but will be filled with quarry dust to cover the railway sleepers, making it suitable for walking or running.
This interactive map shows the route of both Westmeath Greenways. It includes images at the various points tagged along the route...
Larger map HERE
The greenways are a terrific asset to cycling enthusiasts both locally and from further afield, providing a trail that caters for multi-functional use, including walking and running, and water transport where it aligns with the waterways network. Importantly, it will be a traffic free environment, with good traffic-free connections into key towns along the corridor offering a range of services.
The tourism potential of the Greenways is enormous, particularly in the Mullingar and greater Westmeath area which is fast becoming a de-facto cycling hub. There is no reason why Westmeath can't benefit from a tourism and commercial perspective and accrue at least the benefits being seen by the Greenway in Mayo in the local economy. The Greenway will be an important national tourism asset, attracting walkers and cyclists from all over Ireland, Europe and beyond. It will also provide recreational opportunities for local communities along the route.
Progress to Date
The project is being led by Westmeath County Council who also were responsible for the construction of the Royal Canal Greenway. Works commenced on the Westmeath section of the Dublin–Galway Greenway in mid August 2014 with the opening of a temporary access at Grange Mullingar. A further inspection of the track was carried out and the removal vegetation commenced in the first week in September.
Work on the Mullingar to Athlone Greenway is being carried out in three phases. The first section, comprising of 40km is along the existing disused Mullingar to Athlone railway line as far as Garrycastle. Work commenced on this section in September 2014. This section of the Greenway - or the Old Rail Trail as it will be known - was officially opened by the Taoiseach on Sunday 18th October 2015 in Moate. Some pictures of the trail, taken recently, can be seen HERE. I'm sure you'll agree it looks great...
For a bird's eye view of the old rail trail around Moate Station check out this link of some lovely footage by Brian Smyth.
The second section is from Garrycastle to Athlone Castle, again mostly along the disused railway line as far as Montree. The location of the proposed new bridge across the river Shannon is between the Radisson Hotel and the Luan Gallery and will be subject to an EIS this year.
Public Consultation on the final section from Athlone Castle to the Roscommon border took place in October 2014 as part of the ongoing public consultations between Athlone and Galway.
Artist's impression of Greenway bridge across the Shannon
We look forward to getting out onto the new Greenway and to taking advantage of all the potential that it will bring to the development of cycling both in the club and the general public in Mullingar and its environs.