The Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, recently launched Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors, an ambitious and transformational National Outdoor Recreation Strategy.
 
Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors was developed in partnership with Comhairle na Tuaithe and is a collaborative cross-government strategy that reflects the views of stakeholders and the public.  The new strategy will set the stage to strengthen and support the sustainable development of the outdoor recreation sector in Ireland for years to come bringing huge economic and health benefits to communities across the country.
 
Locally, ‘Embracing Ireland’s Outdoors’ will see the establishment of county structures including County Outdoor Recreation Committees and County Stakeholder Forums which will bring all the key stakeholders together. It will also support the development of County Outdoor Recreation Plans identifying the amenities that are in the County and the gaps, as well as agreeing the key priorities for the county to create a more strategic approach and ensure value for money.
 
Building on this ground-up, locally led approach, the Minister also announced €14 million for the development of 59 outdoor recreation amenities and to support outdoor pursuits such as hiking, mountaineering, kayaking, and cycling.
 
Two such successful projects are located in Waterford and are based on funding applications submitted by Waterford City and County Council during 2022.
 
Cappoquin received a further funding boost to follow up on the recently announced RRDF funding of over €5 million. Under this current round of Outdoor Recreation Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) funding, €500,000 was allocated to Phase I of the development of Cappoquin Railway Bridge Loop Walk.
 
The scope of this current phase, which is subject to planning approval by An Bord Pleanála is the development of a waterfront section between Millwheel Park and Cappoquin Rowing Club Grounds. The ultimate goal of this and subsequent phases will be the development of the entire 1km looped walking route which will develop the iconic Cappoquin Railway Viaduct, the Old Red Bridge as an integral part of the trail, in a future phase.
 
The ever-popular Anne Valley Walk has also received a funding boost of €142,424 in order to raise a 900-metre section of the trail which has been prone to flooding and meant that temporary closure of this section of the walk was necessary from time to time, during winter weather events. The Anne Valley Walk is a simply wonderful example of an amenity developed through the generosity and civic pride of local landowners and the wider community. The walk is fully accessible to those with reduced mobility including buggies, wheelchairs etc.
 
The route which winds its way through the scenic Anne Valley wetland and woodland area, connecting Dunhill with the seaside village of Annestown, is brought to life with information on the flora and fauna, as well as picnic and seating areas to relax and enjoy your surroundings.
 
Welcoming this latest ORIS funding announcement, Mayor of Waterford City and County, Cllr. John O’Leary said that “Waterford City and County Council is looking forward to working with all stakeholders with regard to these two exciting projects over the coming months and years.  The Anne Valley Walk is already one of Waterford’s most popular recreational trails, while the development of the Cappoquin Railway Loop Walk project has the potential to be equally as important an amenity in the west of the county”.
 
Cllr. O’Leary went onto congratulate the staff of the Rural Economic Development section of Waterford City and County Council and the communities involved in drafting and submitting the successful funding applications.