Challenging mountain-biking routes and new walking trails are amongst the improvements recently completed in Ballyhoura Country, in readiness for their 2022 season, writes Shauna McCrudden
Ballyhoura Country, the stunning tourist region situated on the crossroads of Limerick, Cork and Tipperary, has announced a range of upgrades – some of which are already completed – to their outdoor amenities. It is anticipated that their 2022 season will be even busier than that of 2021, and these improvements will give great enjoyment to visitors to this paradise for those who love the great outdoors!
Some of the upgrades include:
1) Upgrade of Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails
Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trails is Ireland’s most extensive mountain bike trail network, with road climbs, tight twists-and-turns, off-roads, ups-and-downs and much more. Its 98km of trails are set deep in the lush forest, nestled in the Ballyhoura Mountains. Coillte, who is developing National Mountain Bike Centres around the country, has graded the final descent to the trailhead as a gentle blue trail, while there are plans to develop more challenging red and black descents for the thrill-seeking bikers.
For more information, check out: visitballyhoura.com/explore/ballyhoura-mountain-biking
2) Brand New Signage on the Ballyhoura Nature Trail
The Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Centre is also a starting point of the Ballyhoura Nature Trail, a 40-minute 2km investigation of over 20 hidden creatures in the woods that kiddies have to try to uncover on their walk. The Nature Trail was upgraded with newly-erected nature and wildlife signage earlier this year. It’s a wonderfully enjoyable way for children to investigate and learn about the many creatures that live in the forest.
For more information, check out: visitballyhoura.com/explore/ballyhoura-nature-trail
3) Ballyhoura Walks – Seven Walking Trails Added to the Government Walks Scheme
There are 16 waymarked looped walks in the region, with difficulties ranging from novice to expert. In October 2021, the Government Walks Scheme added the Ballyhoura Way and six other Ballyhoura loop walks to its scheme, which was launched in 2008 to facilitate the development and maintenance of key walking trails by private landholders. This is the first time that local trails in the Ballyhoura area will be added to the scheme, which provides funding to farmers and other landowners to maintain the trails that travel through their holdings. The investment is designed to further enhance the Ballyhoura outdoor amenities product and the experience of visitors to the area.
For more information, check out: visitballyhoura.com/news/ballyhoura-walks-boost
4) New Walking Loop Developed in Ballyhoura – The Slieve Reagh Loop Walk
The development of the 15km-long Slieve Reagh Loop Walk, which starts at the Tourist Office in Kilfinane and wends its way along quiet country roads and through a peaceful mature forest before returning to the village, means that there are now three loops in the Kilfinane Walking Hub, alongside Kilfinane Loop and Ballinvreena Loop.
This project was funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS).
For more information, check out: visitballyhoura.com/explore/slieve-reagh-loop-walk
5) Upgrade of the “Ballyhoura Outdoor Classroom” – Griston Bog
Griston Bog, one of the Ballyhoura Outdoor Classrooms has recently undergone an upgrade (also funded by ORIS) with a new classroom, boardwalk, dipping pond, wheelchair-accessible toilets, and extended parking. The Outdoor Classrooms (the other four are Lough Gur, Doneraile Wildlife Park, Mitchelstown Caves and Croker’s Bee Farm) are unique and inspiring places, specially chosen and managed for learning about nature, and they are accredited national Discover Primary Science and Maths Centres. This project was also funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS).
6) New Fundings and New Upgrades for 2022
Lots of new upgrades of the existing walks are planned in 2022, all of which are funded under the Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS):
- The popular Castlegale Loop (visitballyhoura.com/explore/castlegale-loop) and Darby’s bed (visitballyhoura.com/explore/darbys-bed-loop) will get upgraded with new nature boards, picnic benches, signage and path upgrades. Both are registered National Trails loops with Sport Ireland.
- Further investment for the Kilmallock Riverside Walk – Kilmallock is one of Ireland’s best-hidden gems, a medieval walled town packed with fascinating historical buildings and features.
- Development of trails in Croom and Bruff. In Croom, the further development of the Riverside Walk will see an investment of €198,000. Works envisaged include resurfacing and landscaping of the trail from Croom Mill towards Islanmore. Meanwhile, the investment of €200,000 in the Bruff to Holycross Slí Na Sláinte will see further development of the 2.5km trail and see greater connectivity between Bruff and Holy Cross, and on to Lough Gur.
Ballyhoura Country partners with Leave No Trace Ireland
One of the initiatives taken by Ballyhoura at their highly successful Walking Festival in October 2021, was to partner with Leave No Trace Ireland, an Outdoor Ethics Education Programme designed to promote and inspire responsible outdoor recreation through education, research and partnerships.
It saw the more than 300 festival participants enthusiastically embrace the programme’s seven principles; these include planning your trip, respecting your fellow humans as well as farm animals and wildlife, disposing of your rubbish, being careful with fire, and essentially leaving no trace of your visit to the countryside. This is so everyone can enjoy their time, safely and respectfully.
For more information, visit leavenotraceireland.org
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