The vision of developing a Blueway route that links Toome and Coleraine along the Lower Bann corridor took another step towards being a reality recently as work was completed on Phase One of the project at Glenone.
In the joint venture between Mid Ulster District Council and Waterways Ireland, supported by Angling NI, The Honourable Irish Society, the National Coarse Fishing Federation of Ireland and the local land owner, Mr. William Chesney, a new multi-use public path along the riverbank was developed, accessing an additional 25 coarse angling stands installed as part of the phased works that complement the existing 89 angling stands and associated facilities already at the site, known locally as Molloy’s Ford.
The work, delivered by Mid Ulster District Council, completed by IL Contracting and project managed by Robinsons & Sons, Ballymoney, was made possible by funding from Waterways Ireland, and is part of a proposal to develop a Blueway route, from the town of Portglenone to Newferry West, a length of approximately 7kms.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Sean McPeake welcomed the development, saying, “The Council recognises the importance of sensitively and appropriately maximising the potential of our natural attractions, such as the Lower Bann flowing through our district, and this project is an example where building collaborative partnerships has resulted in an improved river corridor that will generate and sustain a vibrant and healthy community and economy.
“As well as providing recreational walking, cycling, running and angling opportunities to local people, the site will see international visitors in June when it hosts the 2019 FIPSed 25th European Coarse Angling Championship.”
Stephen Douglas, Waterways Ireland welcoming the conclusion of Phase One said, “Waterways Ireland are delighted to have been involved in this collaborative project. It has brought together a wide range of stakeholder partners in delivering what is the first phase of establishing a Blueway path between Portglenone and Newferry and provision of infrastructure to host the 2019 European Coarse Angling Championship. Our vision is to develop Blueway infrastructure, where possible, along the full length of the Lower Bann River.
“To this end we hope to continue working with our partner organisations to develop the product, gain statutory approvals and pursue funding. Blueways developed to date along our navigations have proven to engage local communities and visitors alike and have contributed significantly in economic and social regeneration of towns and communities along our waterways”.
Blueways are a network of multi-activity recreational trails, based on or alongside idyllic lakes, canals and rivers, which provide scenic routes into the heart of the countryside traversed by canoe, bike or on foot. Their value lies not only in the recreational opportunities that they offer residents and visitors, but also in their potential to stimulate local businesses and regenerate local areas.