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 in various sections between Gibbstown to Wilkinstown, and Castletown to Nobber. In Navan, the starting point for the greenway, funding was secured for the Navan-Wilkinstown section in 2019, but there have been delays. It is complete at the Gibbstown cross back to the Tailings Pond, but work at the Navan end on Ratholdren Road has been delayed due to ongoing works by Tara Mines installing underground pipes. Councillor Eugene Cassidy, the man who first proposed the greenway to the local council and the main driving force to getting it delivered, recently stated that this work will be finished by late 2022, and we certainly hope it is completed as soon as possible. Meanwhile, funding was secured for the Wilkinstown-Castletown section, under ORIS 2021, in November 2021, with work due to begin soon. Funding has also been secured on the final section, from Nobber-Kingscourt, with contractors already appointed, and we hope to see the full route complete by late summer 2023.
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 amenity for the people of Navan. Heading north from Navan, it passes the old Gibbstown train station, close to Kilberry and a local favourite, Scanlons Pub and Restaurant, which has recently been renovated, to offer cyclists an ideal resting spot. There are also plans proposed by the Kilberry Amenity and Heritage Group to construct a new path on the R163 from the greenway to the Kilberry Pub & Kitchen. The greenway then heads for the charming village of Wilkinstown before reaching the edges of Castletown. At the busy N52 junction just after Castletown, a new cycleway steel and timber bridge has been installed over the road, which is 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 will pass by popular gastropub Cross Guns, which is connected up with a short path. Cross Guns have some exciting plans to be unveiled around the greenway, including an eco pod village, and has some great outdoor seating areas to make it an ideal destination for lots of hungry cyclists. It then runs on to Nobber, with a lovely route running behind the village alongside the GAA pitch and the old church. Since the greenway opened in Nobber, the village has received a huge boost with businesses thriving and lots of people visiting the area, with The Greenways Cafe and the Kick Ass Cafe just two new spots to open in recent times. 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 the beautiful Dun A Rí Forest Park, creating a great loop through the town 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 proved a great hit with the locals, while in Castletown, the vast benefits to the local community has gained national coverage. There are also plans for a new Mens Shed and cafe in Castletown, close to the greenway. Paths, gates, benches, signage and road surfaces are also improved in villages and areas around greenways, making them 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 those 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.
Plans for this fantastic greenway are ever-evolving. What started out as proposal by Eugene Cassidy to bring the railway back to life has now turned into something much bigger. Recently, a key development for the future of the greenway saw Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), the state body responsible for the development of greenways, committing to allocate funding for it. What this means is that the BVLC Greenway is now recognised as part of a national greenway network – as outlined in the Strategy for the Future Development of National and Regional Greenways – alongside the likes of the Boyne Greenway, the Royal Canal Greenway and the Waterford Greenway.
This is not the only good news for the future of the greenway, as plans are already underway to extend it even further as far as Carrickmacross and Inniskeen in Co Monaghan and on to Dundalk in Co Louth, following the old Great Northern Railway’s Irish North West line. At Dundalk, it could link up with the Great Eastern Greenway (incorporating the Carlingford Greenway), linking Dublin to Belfast. A Scoping Study on the Carrickmacross-Dundalk line has as already been completed by Monaghan County Council.
At the other end, the BVLC Greenway is planned to currently end on Ratholdren Road, but a new proposal could see it continue further south and over the River Blackwater on the old railway line to come out on the Kells Road. This would make it more accessible to the centre of Navan and enable links to the Boyne Greenway on the other side of the town, providing safe cycling infrastructure is put in place through the busy town roads. The long-awaited Navan Rail Line, which was recently highlighted in the NTA’s plans for the GDA region, would make use of this line for a new ‘Navan North’ station, but realistically, this would be 10-15 years off and would, in all likelihood, require construction of a new bridge, so it is possible both the greenway and railway could work in tandem.
This greenway will be a wonderful asset for the people of Meath, Cavan, and beyond, and we can’t wait until it is all finished. There is a lot of excitement and anticipation out there to have it all done, and we have had lots of messages and seen lots of people talking about it. Exciting times ahead!
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