Some of you are aware there is a bit of a controversy brewing about Waterways Ireland’s proposal to develop a ‘blueway’ – ‘a multi-activity recreational trail‘ – along 112km of the old towpath of the Barrow River. The existing towpath already provides a wonderful amenity, al beit an underutilised one, that many people enjoy because of its natural heritage, beautiful setting and special tranquility. I feel so strongly about the proposal that I have lodged an objection to the planning application, the first time I have ever objected to a planning application. I have lodged an objection not because I am anti-development but because I feel that if a decision is made to develop a cycling path (and let’s face it, this is the crux of the proposal) it will radically alter the character of the amenity and will spoil the experience for other users. My contention is that the current proposal does not adequately appreciate exactly how special and unique the Barrow Track is, and that any proposed development of the Track should focus on actively promoting walking and ‘multi-use amenity’, but excluding bicycles. The physical works necessary to accommodate cycling, and the activity itself, would be injurious to the environment and to the experience of other users of the amenity.
To this end, I am going to spend this week walking the Barrow Track to experience fully what the amenity offers as it currently is, and to attempt to share with you why I feel it is so unique and special. I will be sharing photographs and posting blogs about the experience over the week, so please follow me on this blog or on #BarrowWalk. Must remember to pack the sunblock!