Editorial : High cost of (lack of)
Fáilte Ireland (formerly Bord Failte) has just published a glossy
document entitled 'New horizon for Irish tourism'. There is a striking
graph in it that shows the number of overseas visitors engaging in
outdoor activities in 1990- 2001. The graph for hiking/hillwalking shows
a steady increase in numbers from 1990 to 1993 and then a decline in all
but two years since. The fall from 1993 to 2001 amounts to at least a
third (from 280,000 to 180,000), with an admission from Fáilte Ireland
that there is no sign of a reversal in the gloomy trend. It is obvious
that the 'new horizons' for would-be walkers lie in countries other than
Ireland. At a time when the numbers of walkers and hill walkers
worldwide are greatly increasing and when the total numbers of visitors
to Ireland is also increasing this must be a cause of worry. It has to
be said that the numbers of anglers and cyclists also shows a dramatic
decline. We do not know what the causes of these declines are but Fáilte
Ireland picks out lack of access to the countryside as the primary cause
of the decline in hiking/hillwalking, We cannot do anything about our
meteorological climate but access is something we can greatly improve if
the political climate allows it. How much of what could be a thriving
industry are we prepared to lose to our rivals rather than face up to a
problem that will have to be faced up to sooner or later.
After months of lobbying and attending council meetings we are
delighted to report that approximately sixty Rights of Way have been
included in the final version of the draft development plan, thanks to
the efforts of KIO and local residents. The plan includes twenty two new
Rights of Way and listed below are a sample of these:
1. Kilmashogue Lane to Kilmashogue Mountain.
2. Woodside Road to Three Rock Summit.
3. Ballybrack Road 116 to 2-Rock.
4. Barnaslingan Lane to Scalp and Enniskerry Road via various routes
in Barnaslingan Wood.
5. Bishop's Lane to Druid's Altar via Kilternan Abbey.
6. Rathmichael Road via Rathmichael Cemetery to Rathmichael
7. Scalp Villa, Enniskerry Road to Ballybetagh Road
8. Various routes from Carrickgolgan Hill to from Lead Mines Chimney,
Murphy's Lane Puck Castle Lane via Coillte Lands in Carrickgolgan Wood.
Includes access to Alcock Memorial from Murphy's Lane.
(Full list and maps available from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County
Despite skepticism by the Council staff, and at the behest of KIO the
Council passed a motion without a vote, to include fufteen Rights of Way
in the draft plan. Imagine only fifteen Rights of Way in the whole of
County Wicklow! However it's a start. Listed below are fifteen Rights of
Way which have been included.
1. Cliff Walk, Greystones to Bray.
2. Bray Head.
3. Kilmolin to Raven's Rock.
4. Little Sugar loaf.
5. Lough Dan along Clogha River.
6. Lough Dan along Inchavore River.
7. Military Road South to Laragh to Lugduff Brook.
8. Corragh to Round Hill to Brockaugh.
9. Lacken to Sorrel Hill and Black Hill.
10. Access to Fraughan Rock.
11. Track to Scarr.
12. Access to Croghanmoira.
13. Walk across Lough Bray.
14. Other track to Scarr.
15. Kilcoole Mass Track.
(Maps available at Wicklow County Council)
Rural Environmental Protection Scheme
The Rural Environmental Protection Scheme, as it stands, is a bit of
a misnomer as its effect on upland areas is concerned. It has been
responsible for much of the fencing off of mountain areas along the
Western seaboard. We have submitted proposals to the Dept. of
Agriculture and Environment Commissioners in Brussels (copies available
Cape Clear :
Again We have received a letter with photos from members who live
on Cape Clear Island in County Cork. They are concerned about access to
the only national monument on the Island, namely the Signal Tower and
the Old Lighthouse. The owner has posted hostile notices close to the
entrance to the two buildings. Both were accessible to, and frequently
visited by, the public for many years and our members have taken people
on guided walks to the sites. In 1999 the Cork county Council took the
owners to court and they were forced by court order to remove the heavy
barbed wire fencing, which had prevented access to the amenities.
Hopefully court action will not be required in this instance and the
hostile signs will be removed, with the restoration of a friendly and
inviting environment to the Island, which is one of the main tourist
attractions of the area.
There is an on-going dispute about access to traditional
walking routes in the Curtlestown area. As recently as Sunday You may
think that this issue has been going on forever and you wouldn't be far
wrong 23rd November a group of regular walkers were stopped in their
tracks by five people and force to make their return by public road.The
five people (who were quite intimidating according to the report)
included a local landowner, who, as far as we are aware, has resolved
any differences he had in negotiations with representatives of the
Wicklow Uplands Council. In view of what is going on elsewhere in
Glencree this matter requires immediate attention. KIO has made the
Wicklow Uplands Council aware of the current unsatisfactory situation.
An oige and the Irish Ramblers have also expressed a strong interest in
this unprecedented blocking of access in an area which has been
traditionally walked for many years. Interference with access in this
area will also have repercussions for Knockree Youth Hostel, local
B&B business and the overall tourist business associated with the
Wicklow Way. This action by the landowner is in direct opposition to the
aims and objectives of the Wicklow Uplands Council and should be
Ugool Beach Update : You may
think that this issue has been going on forever and you wouldn't be far
wrong. Fourteen years to be precise: Mayo County Council could now run
degree courses in Advanced Procrastination, if they could bestir
themselves to the extent of getting round to it! The Ombudsman is still
taking a keen interest in this case, the longest running on her books.
KIO is hoping to set up a meeting shortly with the Ombudsman to see how
the council can be forced into some kind of meaningful action.
Ballinarush : Absolutely no
progress to report on the blocking off of access to Ballinarush and
Lough Dan in County Wicklow. The keep out signs, barbed wire and spiked
gate are still in place. Efforts by the Wicklow Uplands Council to
resolve the situation have not been successful. It would seem that some
areas in Wicklow are fast becoming a place where you can look but don't
attempt to get out of the car for a walk in the countryside. Threat of
Legal Action over
Enniskerry Guide Book :
After all the access problems the group in Enniskerry had as a result of
publishing a little walking guide to their area, the authors are faced
with a big stick wield by yet another landowner (once again, not a
farmer). To quote a solicitor's letter they have recently received: We
require you as a matter of urgency, to furnish us with a written
Undertaking on the following terms:
1. That you will withdraw the extracts in your publication which
relate to our Client's land.
2. That you withdraw the allegation that our Client's land is
burdened by a public Right of Way.
3. That you undertake to never repeat such allegation (i.e. that our
Client's property is burdened by a public Right of Way) at any time in
Those who fondly think that because people have been walking a route
for decades and can produce solid evidence of this fact (as the hapless
authors thought in this case) had better think again. Unless the path is
in the county development plan or has been established at law by usage
all can mean nothing. And this presumably is why county councils are so
reluctant to put Rights of Way into development plans. Never mind the
rights or wrongs or the public interest - it might upset the powerful!
However, the authors, both members of KIO, attended our recent AGM and
sought the assistance of the committee. Legal advice was sought on their
behalf ( as advised by the landowner's solicitor) and we were informed
that Rights of Way can be created by usage and this was established most
recently in the case of Smeltzer V Fingal County Council (1997).
Correspondence is now taking place between the parties with a view to a
negotiated resolution and hopefully the matter can be settled to
everybody's satisfaction. In the absence of a proper legal framework
protecting the rights of recreational users, there are serious
implications in the above threat of legal action. The authors who
publish walking routes on a regular basis, including the MCI (Mountain
Log), the Ramblers (monthly Rambler), Walking World (to name but a few)
and many other group and individual publications are possibly leaving
themselves open to a similar threat.
Donations : Many thanks to
our members for the donations they made to KIO over the years. Once
again a special thanks to the CHA club who have been most generous to
KIO over the years. The donations are most encouraging and will be put
to good use.
Adrian Phillips - A Tribute :
A true gentleman and scholar is probably the best way I can
describe Adrian. Adrian was a well known geologist whose research
spanned a wide range of topics. He died peacefully on 2nd November 2003
after an illness that most of us believed, and hoped, he would make a
full recovery from. In his work as a geologist Adrian developed a great
love of the Irish landscape and it was through his concern for the
sustainability of the Irish Uplands that KIO first came in contact with
him. He was the driving force behind the inaugural conference set up to
explore t he long-term sustainability of the Irish Uplands, which was
held in Galway in 1994. His enthusiasm was unbounded and he showed great
skill and professionalism in bringing such a diverse group of interests
together in what was a very successful event. What followed was the
setting up of the Irish Upland Forum, a development of a community-based
partnership to protect our uplands. The Wicklow Uplands Council was a
direct result of these efforts and work is in progress in setting up
similar partnerships in other areas. A mark of Adrian's leadership was
his consideration and caring for others and his will to encourage
everyone to make their contribution. No matter how small a role one had,
Adrian always made you feel important and that your contribution was
very much appreciated, Adrian is survived by his wife Rosamund and three
children and will be sadly missed by all who knew him. May he rest in
Photo above shows: L to R, Dawson Stelfox (MCI), Roger Garland (KIO)
and Adrian, at the inaugural conference to explore the long-term
sustainability of our uplands, held in Galway 1994.
MCI and Access to the
It was not so long ago at a seminar on access to the countryside
organized by KIO at UCD that the main speaker, Kate Ashbrook, Chairman
English Ramblers and Secretary of the Open Spaces Society, argued that a
legal framework was the only long term solution to the access and Rights
of Way problems faced by recreational users. She argued that the
voluntary approach, although admirable, did not leave anything in
perpetuity. The scenario she described has been continually borne out in
Ireland and fine examples of it are to be found at Ugool Beach, Gleniff
and lately in Glencree, Co Wicklow. Kate's views were strongly opposed
by several members of the MCI who maintained the voluntary approach was
the only way forward. KIO disagreed and have pursued a campaign for
legal reform over the past ten years. TDs and County Councillors,
Government and Semi-State bodies have been continually lobbied and with
the All Party Joint Oireachtas Committee dealing with property rights
and the inclusion by the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown and Wicklow County
Councils of lists of Rights of Way in their development plans we feel
our efforts have been worthwhile. However a quote from Joss Lynham (who
we wish a full and speedy recovery from his recent illness) in the
Autumn 2003 issue of Mountain Log the magazine og the Mountaineering
Council of Ireland states: "In July, the MCI made a presentation to the
joint Oireacthas Committee currently dealing with property rights. The
MCI highlighted the need to address the issue of access to the
countryside through legislation or constitutional change if Irish
tourism is not to lose out to other European countries". KIO welcomes
the change of policy direction by MCI and hopefully we can work together
more closely in the future in securing a legal framework which confers
rights of access to recreational users, while at the same time
respecting the legitimate concerns of landowners/farmers in a
continually changing countryside.
According to an independent study commissioned by the Rambler's
Association (RA), walkers are pouring more than £6bn a year into rural
communities in England through more than 527m rambling trips that take
them past village pubs, shops and into local bed and breakfast
accommodation. Rambling has a substantial impact on the rural job
market, which has been hit by dying industries and shrinking farming
communities. Walkers, generating between £1.4bn and £2bn of income,
support an estimated 180,000-245,000 full-time jobs. Overseas visitors
make more than 1m trips to walk in the English countryside, boosting the
economy by £355m (Guardian 17 September 2003).
KIO Annual General
A lively but poorly attended AGM was held on 1st November 2003. The
President, Jackie Rumley spoke of the indirect benefits of walkers to
the farming community not only in the obvious (B&Bs, pubs etc) but
also in the provision of food to walking visitors and the building up of
a favourable image to Ireland and its products when they return home. A
belligerent farmer has of course the opposite effect. The Chairman,
Roger Garland, spoke about KIO's role in seeking to have Rights of Way
listed in county development plans. He also emphasized that the tide on
access was on the turn with several organizations, formerly talking only
about voluntary measures are now being forced to consider legislative
change. Quite a change to the times, the very recent times, when KIO was
on its own! There was an informative contribution from two members of a
group, which published a walking guidebook to Enniskerry (as previously
reported) and now find them in yet more trouble. This is reported on
elsewhere in this edition.
Theft of post
On Friday 19th Dec the postman's bag for Dublin 9 was stolen. As our
treasurer lives in Dublin 9 it is possible that the bag contained some
cheques for KIO membership. If you sent a cheque around that date and
have not relieved an acknowledgement from KIO it would be best to cancel
the cheque and send another one. All cheques should be crossed. If you
sent cash please write to the treasurer with your details so that you
may receive newsletters, notice of meetings etc.
We are pleased to welcome Fergal McLoughlin and Brain Graham to the
committee. Brain has a background in An Óige and has been a member of
the Executive for several years, and Fergal is active in An Taisce and
is a committed hill walker.
Heritage Officers in the Countryside
delighted to report that Heritage Officers have been appointed by
several local authorities with what we understand to be a brief on
rights of way and access issues. It remains to be seen how effective
they will be with the various issues that continually arise in the
below is a full list of existing Heritage Officers which we are led to
believe will be increased to thirty six. Contact them if you have access
or rights of way problems in your area.
Carrick - on - Shannon
Jackie Rumley 098-36144
Roger Garland 01-4934239
Secretary/Treasurer - Kitty Murphy 01 - 8378594
Secretary /Acting Secretary - Patricia Hamilton 834 2054
- David Herman 01-2984821
O'Sullivan,01 837 4440
Winder. 01 497 0016,
Secretary - Michael Murphy 098 25068
If you would like to inform us of any problems in your area please email us at
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