1.Description of project
A community project based in the West Limerick villages of Broadford and Ashford which has seen walking trails redeveloped and promoted for tourism purposes. Run by a voluntary committee, the Broadford/Ashford walking trails promote six routes in the Mullaghareirk mountain range. Each of the six routes have been selected to provide spectacular views over Co Limerick. They are fully waymarked and have illustrated storyboards in the picturesque villages of Broadford and Ashford.
The six walking routes are An Gleann Beag Loop, the Gleann na gCapall Loop, the Killagholehane Way, the Broadford to Ashford Way, the Ashford to Lough Ghe Way and the Gortnaclohy Loop.
While the routes are mainly “self-guided”, there is a guided walk on the second Sunday of every month.
The Broadford/Ashford Walking Trails is the Limerick Leader’s representative in the 2016/2017 Get Involved competition.
2 Rationale and objectives of project
How did the project originate?
The original committee was formed back in 1999 and a new committee was set up in 2014 to include additional routes, bring the existing walking trails back to life and have them all registered with the National Trails Office.
West Limerick was lacking in accredited long & short distanced way marked hill walks, and with so many diverse features to offer in the Broadford/Ashford area from flora and fauna, significant historical sites and panoramic views, the trails are a perfect sustainable amenity to fill that gap. Our area has always been associated with community work and community projects.
This project will attract other walking groups & tourists to the area and benefit locals while promoting a healthy lifestyle.
3 Phased plan of project (bullet points)
- Planning – Committee formed, additional routes selected including revamping of original trails.
- Consultation – Advice from West Limerick Resources, National Trails Office & Ballyhoura Failte.
- Design – Meeting with contractors, engineers, local community groups and obtaining access agreements with land owners.
- Works – groundworks, track surface improvement, fencing, waymarked posts, mapboards, storyboards.
- Marketing – creation of website www.walkbroadfordashford.com, video footage, brochures, promotional flyers, facebook
- Walking trails registered with The National Trails Office.
- Ongoing development – maintenance, promoting, fundraising. organizing events, liaising with West Limerick Tourism and Fáilte Ireland to increase tourist numbers.
4 Planned benefit of the project to the community & environs
This project will bring several long term community benefits – with so much emphasis nowadays on health and well being there is something to suit all fitness levels and all age groups on the six trails. Local sports clubs use them for training and team building, local schools as part of their active weeks.
It is also an opportunity to gain local knowledge and familiarise oneself with the area as the start of all of the walks are storyboards detailing routes, flora & fauna and local history. Beside the trailhead in Broadford is the added feature of the Wildlife Arboretum with 26 native Irish trees and shrubs. With increased tourism, local businesses such as shops, pubs & accommodation providers also benefit.
Our project is also encouraging additional numbers of people to live in our community and it is a great place to live. Our primary school numbers are rising.
5 Who is or will be involved in the project
There is a committee of eight people from both communities who meet on a regular basis to develop ideas around the trails. As well as organising a scheduled walk on the 2nd Sunday of every month, we have organised a Dawn Chorus and a Haunted Halloween Trail for the small people, we are currently planning within the trails a Fairy Forest for the very small people!