Walking in the River Barrow Valley
Responding effectively to walkers needs
The River Barrow is Ireland’s second longest river system running for 192 km from its source in the Slieve Bloom Mountains to the sea. County Carlow is widely known for its strong vibrant River Barrow Valley communities.
This has created a rich tapestry of beautiful and well-kept villages and towns along the river valley. Communities take pride in and create places that are very attractive to visit. The River Barrow Valley attracts a lot of outdoor activists including walkers.
It is widely accepted that the walking offering and potential of the River Barrow is significantly underdeveloped. Experiences of walkers are not always positive with frequent reports of walkers uncertain how to access the River Barrow towpath safely, whether to turn right of left at the entry point to reach their intended destination/village, getting lost on the walk, confusion around the actual distance involved in walking to the next village and which village they have reached. Such negative experience result in complaints to the local tourist office and an absence of recommendations to family and friends to visit the area.
In 2018, Carlow County Development Partnership established a multi-stakeholder working group to focus on the challenge and identify a proposal which would reduce, if not eliminate, uncertainty around the walking experience on the River Barrow. It wasn’t long before the group reached consensus on what needed to be done – to focus on clarifying uncertainties around the key criterion for walkers of distance and time. The working group agreed that if walkers could get the answer to the two very important questions of ‘how far?’ and ‘how long will it take?’ from their kitchen table, or no later than at the trailhead, then there was a greater chance that more walkers would identify the River Barrow Valley as a walking destination of choice.
Providing the answers to a walkers questions of ‘how far’ and ‘how long’ were designed around a suite of strategic actions which secured €68,000 under the Outdoor Rural Infrastructure Scheme (ORIS) including;
The project resulted in the establishing of multi-lingual signage at 8 trail heads within Carlow, directional signage from village centres and three-sided waymarker posts along the route. Importantly, the project also produced this promotional web-site.
of visitors cite walking as a key choice factor for Ireland
Fáilte Ireland Workshop,
Silence and solitude
We parked one car at the bridge near Borris and a second one at Mlilichain cafe near St Mullins. It was a brisk 3.5 hour walk. Very few other walkers in early January. We love the peaceful nature of it. Mucky in places but boots make it easy to navigate without any major challenge. Highly recommended.
Trip Advisor; January 2020
Beautiful Graignamanagh and St. Mullins
We visited the above town on different days and had really enjoyed it. Maybe next time we will walk the 6 kilometers between them
Trip Advisor; January 2020
For more information on developing the carlow outdoors experience please contact Clare O’Shea.