A beautiful new 30km Greenway from Navan, Co Meath, to Kingscourt, Co Cavan
By Ed Moynihan, Navan Cycling Initiative
The new Boyne Valley to Lakelands County Greenway (BVLC Greenway) has the potential to be one of the best. Not to be confused with its close relation the Boyne Greenway (see more here), it begins in Navan, Co Meath and the heart of the Boyne Valley, and flows north to Co Cavan and the historic town of Kingscourt. It follows the route of the old railway line and along its winding journey passes through the villages of Wilkinstown, Castletown, Nobber and Kilmainhamwood before ending in Kingscourt, not far from Dun A Rí Forest Park.
The BVLC Greenway is currently in several stages of development. Work has been completed on a 1.5km section at Nobber (see photos below), and a 1.4km section in Castletown, with work yet to commence to join those sections up as well as the various stages in Kingscourt, Kilmainhamwood and Wilkinstown. In Navan, the starting point for the greenway, work has also yet to begin, but Councillor Eugene Cassidy, a strong advocate for the greenway since 2011, has recently stated work will be finished by early summer 2021. Navan Cycling Initiative have also had confirmation from Meath County Council that work on the 7km section from Navan to Wilkinstown will commence in early 2021.
The greenway begins at the railway line on the Ratholdren Road in Navan (see map below). There are plans to join it up to nearby Blackwater Park with the instalment of a new cycle path, which will create a wonderful ammenity for the people of Navan, especially in a time when a demand for outdoor space is at an all time high. Heading north from Navan, it passes close to Kilberry and a local favourite, Scanlons Pub and Restaurant, which will be soon reopening after renovation to offer cyclists an ideal resting spot. The greenway then heads for the village of Wilkinstown before reaching the edges of Castletown. At the busy N52 junction just after Castletown, it will see the creation of a new cycleway steel and timber bridge over the road, which will be a great addition. Edit: there are also plans underway for a realignment of the N52, which will create an additional crossing. See more information here.
After the N52, the greenway passes by the popular gastropub Cross Guns, which we hope will be connected up with a short path. Cross Guns has some great outdoor seating areas which will make an ideal destination for coffee and grub for lots of hungry cyclists! It then runs on to Nobber, with a lovely route running behind the village alongside the GAA pitch and old church. From Nobber, it passes by Whitewood Lake, which has the potential to be the must see destination on the entire greenway. Whitewood Lake is the home of Ireland’s own Loch Ness Monster, with this report from the archives of RTE sure to be of interest. At Kingscourt, the greenway ends at the site of the old Kingscourt Railway Station, with plans to link up cycling facilities to Dun A Rí Forest Park, which would create a loop back to the greenway.
It should be also pointed out that each community along the route has the ability to create their own local loops off the main greenway that will make their own unique attractions and amenities more widely accessible. Slí Na hOibrè, the Nobber loop, has greatly improved the town, while in Castletown, the vast benefit to the local community has already been seen. Paths, gates, benches, signage and road surfaces are also improved in villages and areas around greenways, making it a more attractive place to live.
There is often criticism of greenways on old railway lines, with people saying active train lines are needed more, yet if anything in the majority of cases the railway tracks and the ability to put them back in are preserved alongside the routes. If not for greenways, the land could be sold off for development or zoning, meaning the old railway lines would be gone forever, but greenways like this preserve the route and the history of the old railways lines. And they could, potentially, go back in if the need was there. Greenways also help to rejuvenate communities and small towns by creating new businesses like bike hire, bike repair, cafes, restaurants and guesthouses. A feasibility study, carried out by Kieran Boyle Consulting, found that the BVLC Greenway has the potential to attract 150,000 visitors annually who will bring an estimated spend of €6 million to the local economy.
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