Mountain plan includes new trails, interpretative centre

Tue, Oct 21, 2008, 01:00

AN INTERPRETATIVE centre on Three Rock mountain and subsidised bus services for walkers are among the projects planned in a new initiative to encourage greater recreational use of the Dublin Mountains.

The Dublin Mountains Partnership, a joint initiative between Dún Laoghaire/Rathdown and South Dublin county councils, Coillte, the Department of Environment and a recreational user group, Dublin Mountains Initiative, will be launched by Minister for Natural Resources Éamon Ryan this Friday.

New trails for walkers and cyclists, a recreational map of the area and measures to counter anti-social activities in the mountains are also planned by the group.

The partnership is also developing a dedicated website,, and has recruited a recreation manager to further its vision of providing Dubliners with recreational “breathing space” in the hills and encouraging tourism.

The new group’s remit is confined to lands in public ownership as those involved felt any move to create a national park covering privately-owned land as well would, in the words of one participant, be killed “dead in the water” by opposition from landowners. The group’s budget is a relatively small €250,000 a year, but chairman Bill Murphy believes a lot can be achieved with the buy-in of key State bodies and the active involvement of walkers and other users.

“In the past we made mistakes but there are a lot of simple things we can do to improve the recreational potential of public lands.”

Consultants have drawn up a list of actions for the new organisation, including longer-term projects such as the interpretative centre and “quick win” projects to be implemented in the short term. The latter include new trails, the rebuilding of eroded trails, the improvement of car parks, more and better signposting and the movement of existing walks such as the Wicklow Way off roads where possible.

A volunteer ranger service is to be set up to counter the effect of anti-social activities such as damage caused to mountains by motorbike scramblers and quad drivers and the persistent problem of break-ins in isolated car parks.

Mr Murphy, who is recreation manager with Coillte, said contact had been made with the scrambler community with the aim of getting those involved to take responsibility for their sport. However, facilities specifically for scramblers would have to be provided.

The DMP is developing plans to provide “rambler buses” in the summer months, possibly linking from the Sandyford Luas stop to Glencullen and Pine Forest. A Dublin Mountains Way walking route stretching from Shankill to Saggart, with a mountain section from Ballyedmonduff to the Hellfire Club, is being envisaged and a new walking route at Tibradden is under construction.

The initiative arose as a result of pressure from the Dublin Mountains Initiative, which was set up in 2006 by a group of walkers and cyclists concerned over Coillte’s clear-felling policy in the forests of the area. Mr Murphy said Coillte had responded by being more transparent about its felling plans and by undertaking to replant trees “in a more sensitive way”.