The Ancient Destination Experience Development Plan
New Ancient Destination Experience Development Plan (ADEDP) – a five year plan to develop and enhance the Boyne Valley & surrounding areas
Fáilte Ireland have launched the ‘Ancient’ Destination Experience Development Plan (ADEDP) to drive and sustain tourism in Meath and Louth by developing new and enhanced visitor experiences across both counties. The five-year Plan has been developed in collaboration with Meath and Louth County Councils, the Office of Public Works (OPW) and several local tourism operators and businesses. The history and heritage of the counties will be central to the Plan which aims to create a dynamic destination that will attract domestic and international visitors.
A key element of the ADEDP focusses on the ancient heritage of the region, the storied myths and legends, and the many world-famous ‘ancient trails’ from Newgrange, the Hill of Tara, Slane Castle and the River Boyne itself. The diversity and range of attractions, activities, cultural experiences across the Boyne Valley are highlighted and the Plan will also develop immersive visitor food experiences that tell the ‘Ancient’ story.
Commenting on the Plan, Jackie Maguire CEO Meath County Council said: “The tourism development approach outlined within the Ancient DEDP represents a destination roadmap for everybody involved in tourism. We are fortunate to have a UNESCO World Heritage site as a key attractor to the region. Initiatives such as re-imagining the Boyne Valley Drive and telling the 5,000 year story through our Greenways and Blueways represent exciting opportunities to build on the success of Brú na Boinne. The plan also maps out how the tourism industry can build on these opportunities and grow the economic value of tourism across all communities.”
Greenways and Blueways
A prominent feature of the plan is the introduction of Greenways and Blueways as key elements for the region. Navan Cycling Initiative are pleased to see that the Boyne Greenway features strongly in this reimagined Boyne Valley. The Greenway, which you can read more about here, will play a important role in delivering the true potential of these ancient trails.
The Boyne Navigation and Greenway has the potential to become one of the most fascinating land and water heritage trail journeys for visitors in developing an international positioning as one of the most iconic heritage trails in the world. It will also link key destination towns with the route bookended with Drogheda and Navan, providing a strong development focus for both.
The project is currently under feasibility review having undergone a first Public Consultation (view NCI’s submission here). Plans for the Boyne Greenway have been in the works for a number of years and it is fantastic to see the project developing. It will be transformative for the entire region and will no doubt attract a huge number of visitors from all over Ireland and Europe. The project will be linked strongly to the development of the Boyne Valley Drive to provide an integrated range of routes and travel modes to explore Ancient and increase dwell time throughout the destination.
It is also great to see strong support for Boyne Greenway from Slane Castle and the Conyngham Family. (see video below at 6 minutes). The Greenway is proposed to run on either the north or south bank of the Boyne at Slane Castle and may even run through its grounds. Speaking at the launch of the ADEDEP, Alex Conyngham said: “The Boyne Greenway will be transformational for our local community and the wider Boyne Valley. It will encourage people to slow down, increase dwell time and enjoy the area. The Boyne Greenway will go right through us at the Estate and we will greatly benefit, but it’s also about increasing the benefit to Slane and the wider area”.
Oddly, the Boyne Valley to Lakelands County Greenway doesn’t get a mention in the new plans. This will be a second 30km+ Greenway starting in the heart of the Boyne Valley, and will be in close proximity to the Boyne Greenway in Navan. It will form part of a network of greenways in the region and follows the route of the old railway line from Navan to Kingscourt, not far from Dun A Rí Forest Park.
The Boyne Blueway also features prominently, with works to upgrade the appropriate elements of the ‘Navan to Boyne Valley Blueway’. Funding was recently acquired for this section, and it would be fantastic to see it link up with sections at Trim, Bective, Oldbridge and Drogheda.
The Boyne Valley Drive
Another important element of the ADEDP will be a re-imagined Boyne Valley Drive. We hope to see this name changed to something more suitable such as the ‘Boyne Valley Way’, as we stated previously in Fáilte Ireland’s Boyne Valley Drive Public Consultation earlier this year. Marketing the region as the ‘Boyne Valley Drive’ sounds limiting and confusing. The Boyne Valley Way would be more inclusive and open up the possibility of exploring areas around the River Boyne, the River Blackwater, the Gold Coast, the Boyne Navigation, greenways, blueways and outdoor areas of recreational use. Similar tourist regions such as the Wild Atlantic Way or the Burren Way attract millions of visitors yet are known as ‘ways’, with a lot of different options for people to visit and enjoy.
Bringing ‘Ancient’ Alive
A key challenge identified within the ADEDP process is a requirement to bring many of the Ancient stories ‘alive’, create opportunities to engage with the Ancient story and become more immersive for the visitor. The development of the activities sector, aligned with the Ancient sites and the natural assets has the scope to bring these stories to life in a differentiated way.
The development of ‘Integrated Ancient Trails’ will link proposed trails including Greenways and Blueways across the destination. These proposals would support the development of new and emerging trails that collectively increase the range of options for visitors to extend dwell time and explore new places.
With the massive potential of the Greenways in the region, we believe it is essential that we see the development of a network of safe cycling infrastructure in the towns and areas close by. This would not only connect the Boyne Greenway to nearby tourist and heritage sites and make them fully accessible by bike, but it would also enable tourists and visitors to spend more time in the towns and villages around it.
Destinations close to the Boyne Greenway, such as Mellifont Abbey, the village of Slane including the Hill of Slane and Littlewood Forest, Dunmoe & Ardmulchan, as well around the town of Navan itself including Blackwater Park, the BVLC Greenway, Athlumney Castle, Donaghmore Round Tower, and even further out to Jamestown Bog, are all within easy cycling reach and ideal for ‘Integrated Ancient Trails’.
Other areas along the River Boyne and Boyne Navigation, Carlingford Lough, and other Blueways and Greenways, all offer great platform for growth. The development of the Blueway at Trim Castle and access to the Boyne at Oldbridge represent other key areas for activity growth. The longer-term objectives of the Boyne Navigation will be the development of a sustainable activity base that will access the Ancient stories along the route. We also hope to see the remaining section of the Boyne Greenway, from Navan to Trim, develop over the coming years.
The ADEDP also outlines the feasibility of a number of other Greenways in the region. These include:
- Upgrading the existing Great Eastern Greenway at Carlingford (currently only 7km)
- Omeath to Victoria Lock and Carlingford Marina to Carlingford Village
- The Great Eastern Greenway from Blackrock (Louth) to Drogheda (approx 70km)
- Carlingford – Greenore – Templetown Beach.
- (Note: All of the above all form part of the Great Eastern Greenway, a long term plan which will see various greenways come together to connect Dublin to Belfast)
- Dundalk to Sligo as part of East West Road Project [Dundalk to Sligo, Route 1, National Cycle Strategy]
- Dundalk to Inniskeen Greenway along old rail track
- Boyne Greenway through Drogheda to link up with Public Transport Hubs and the Drogheda to Mornington Greenway
All in all it’s a very exciting time for the future of the Boyne Valley and this plan will no doubt help bring to life the ancient heritage and natural landscape of the region. To download the ADEDP in full, click here, and fore more information more visit failteireland.ie