The Wicklow Way – forests and roads

 

Sir, – Cecily Gilligan (August 25th) rightly points out the boring nature of much of the Wicklow Way due the prevalence of sitka spruce forestry. The reason for this is that almost the entire Way is routed through State-owned land such as Coillte forestry and the Wicklow Mountains National Park or worse still along public roads many of the them quite busy. Except in very exceptional circumstances walkers should not have the endure the pollution and noise of walking on public roads, not to speak of the safety aspect.

While there are many parts of the Wicklow Way on roads, there is a particularly dangerous stretch in the Glencullen valley along the R116 Ballybetagh Road.

Keep Ireland Open has lobbied over many years for the State to make the Way more pleasant and safer by re-routing it away from Coillte forestry through private land with, of course, reasonable compensation being paid to landowners. We have no doubt that the sum expended would represent excellent value and result in vastly better walks for our own people and our visitors. – Yours, etc,

ROGER GARLAND,

Chairman,

Keep Ireland Open,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – I sympathise with Cecily Gilligan, who endured long stretches of monotonous, view-blocking conifers walking the Wicklow Way. There are far too many areas of such forest in the Wicklow Mountains and little can be done until they are harvested and the areas not replanted.

It should be possible to avoid much of the forestry in Wicklow and walk on open ground. However, unique in western Europe and indeed further afield landowners have absolute right to decide who comes onto their land, no matter how remote. Furthermore they can withdraw permission to cross their land for any reason or none.

Far easier then for the authorities to stick to State land, no matter how dull.

Last year, I was asked by a group of friends here for a map depicting the Wicklow Way, which they intended to walk. When they realised that large sections were through dull forest they opted for a long-distance walk in Yorkshire, much inferior in scenery to Wicklow, but with long, unimpeded views.

It’s such a pity. Walkers could bring much-needed revenue to rural areas and could extend the tourist season. On top of this are the obvious health benefits.

However, the mere mention of challenging landowners is met with a resigned shrug. But until recreational walkers wake up and show even some degree of assertiveness, the Government will do nothing. – Yours, etc,

DAVID HERMAN,

Benllech,

Wales.