Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys, joined Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Cllr Clifford Kelly (FF); Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland, John McDonagh and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Cavan County Council, Tommy Ryan, in opening the new 5.5km Ballyconnell to Bellaheady Recreational Trail last Friday. PHOTO: Lorraine Teevan

WATCH: New recreational trail opens in west

The county’s newest walkway was officially opened last Friday, offering wonderful views of the Woodford River.

The 5.5km Ballyconnell to Bellaheady Recreational Trail was opened by Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys. The trail will eventually form part of the 54km greenway along the route of the old Cavan to Leitrim railway line. Funding of €684,289 was granted by the Department of Rural and Community Development to the project, which is a partnership between Cavan County Council and Waterways Ireland.

The route follows the scenic banks of the Woodford River on the Shannon Erne Waterway and also provides connectivity to the existing Woodford Village Walk, a key amenity in the UNESCO Cuilcagh Lakelands Geopark.

Speaking at the opening, Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council Clifford Kelly said the trail will help to bolster the county’s tourism offering.

“This trail is a wonderful addition to our local tourism product and enhances one of our greatest resources – our stunning natural landscape and our abundant waterways. Every 1,000 tourists that visit Cavan help support 14 jobs.

“The tourism and hospitality sector employs some 3,200 people in County Cavan and projects such as this will contribute greatly to the recovery and future growth of the sector in the coming months and years,” he said.

Tourism officer with Cavan County Council, Joanne Hayes, said this trail builds on the already substantial tourism offering in west Cavan.

“West Cavan is in the heart of the geopark, it’s in the heart of Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. We’ve so much to offer here. We’re always trying to provide reasons for visitors to come here and reasons for them to stay here,” she said.

Sarah McCarthy, regional development officer for Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands with Fáilte Ireland, said the trail is what the tourism programme is all about.

“Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands is very much about being active in nature and getting out and uncovering the hidden gems in this area. This is such a fantastic way of enabling people to do that. People can walk, people can cycle. It’s right beside the river so people can paddle as well. It’s all about enabling people to get out and experience what they have on their doorstep.”

Work was also recently completed on a 6km trail from Belturbet to Corraquil, which will also form part of the wider Cavan to Leitrim route that will eventually run from Dromod in Leitrim to Belturbet.