Great Rides: Ireland’s Waterford Greenway
Saturday, 17 March 2018
Laura Laker rode 46km from Waterford City to Dungarvon on the Waterford Greenway
The Waterford Greenway opened a year ago, and yet cycling on it today you’d be forgiven for thinking it has been part of the landscape – and the community – for years. I was visiting a friend near Cork when she suggested we ride it together.
Running 46km from Waterford City to Dungarvon, via Kilmacthomas, the former railway-turned greenway was an unexpected gem. It was a mixture of sun and rain when my friend, also called Laura, and I set out to explore it.
We hired an ebike for Laura and a Liv hybrid bike for me; as she hadn’t cycled for some time this meant we could comfortably ride together. Handily, Waterford Greenway Bike Hire operates a free minibus shuttle between Waterford, Kilmacthomas and Dungarvon, to take us back to the campsite at the end.
The views just out of Kilmacthomas are perhaps the route’s most spectacular, as we climbed gently alongside the Atlantic Ocean from the pretty town, the water sparkling in the midday sun. We stopped to chat to a retired American couple, beguiled by the area’s beauty and its people, before crossing the Ballyvoile viaduct, restored for the Greenway, and riding the smooth tarmac into a deep cut in the hillside, covered in rich green ferns and moss. Tiny fairy doors, installed by local school children, give the shady place a mystical feel, as we headed underground for 400m into the Durrow rail tunnel. Emerging into the warm air we then crossed the stunning Durrow viaduct – a rail bridge over a road bridge over a river – with its treetop views.
These are two of the remarkable historical engineering elements on Ireland’s longest greenway, which also boasts purpose-built bridges and tunnels. Well-marked road crossings knit a route I’d be happy to take old and young family members on.
The Comeragh Mountains come into view on the left hand side, their red and green flanks changing gently with the light as we pass. After dipping under the N25 in a purpose built tunnel, we emerge at Kilmacthomas, which has been given a new lease of life thanks to the Greenway.