Over the Easter holidays we took a short break in Dungarvan and spent a few hours on the Waterford Greenway, the disused railway line that has been converted to a cycleway and is a hugely popular amenity.
At the time our kids were 5, 8 and 10. Our five-year-old can cycle without stabilisers but has never cycled further than around the garden. Here’s how we got on.
Renting the Bikes
We rented our bikes from O’Mahony Cycles which is in Abbeyside, just around the corner from the first red gate where the Greenway starts (or ends, depending on what way you look at things!)
The lady who served us in O’Mahonys had the patience of a saint. We had decided to get a tag-along (an attachment that looks like a bike that attaches to the back of an adult’s bike) for Laoise but the strong-willed girl that she is insisted on getting to cycle herself too. Luckily, our helpful bike shop lady said she had once been a strong-willed five-year-old herself and found a bike for Laoise to borrow until she got too tired and needed to go on the tag-along, and she also gave us a lock so we could safely stow the bike and she would collect it. All bikes were adjusted to fit us perfectly and we were given helmets. We walked down the road and around the corner to join the Greenway, delighted.
We took our trip on the Thursday before Easter and joined the Greenway at Abbeyside at around 3.30pm (Bike fit-out and associated tantrums lasted about 35 minutes). We were charged €40 for bike hire for 2 adult bikes, 3 kids’ bikes and a tag-along, with the reduced rate since it was late. The bikes were to be returned to the shop by 9.30pm. Our intended destination was Durrow, 10km away, where we had heard there was a sweet shop.
The first part of the Greenway goes through an urban area until you reach the Clonea stretch. For the whole Greenway the only traffic is pedestrians and cyclists, it’s perfectly safe. Each road crossing is punctuated by red gates, so if one child is slower it’s safe to allow the others cycle to the next red gate to wait for you there.
The causeway is the first really cool part, cycling on the narrow bridge the crosses the water towards the Clonea Road. This was the trickiest part of the cycle due to the narrowness and there a few crashes by our smallest when trying to avoid pedestrians and dogs on this bit. After that it’s plain sailing.
After a short cycle on you come to Scartore carpark and what we reckoned was the Greenway proper. There’s a small playground after the Scartore carpark at Ballinroad where you might want to rest. After this you head out to sea views and a series of cow crossings which the boys were lucky enough to see in use. (We were too far behind them!)
It was slow going at times with the smallest, but the boys powered on, really enjoying themselves. We had a rule that they had to wait for us at each red gate before crossing the road (the road crossings are all signalled by red gates leading off the Greenway)
We had all but given up on reaching Durrow when we hit an area covered in fairy doors, just after the Ballyvoyle viaduct and before the famed Ballyvoyle tunnel. This kept everyone interested until we hit the tunnel. The tunnel is magical, fairy doors lead in to it, and then it’s wet and dark and very adventurous. You’re not supposed to cycle through the tunnel, but nobody really pays attention to that rule it seems. Inside the tunnel is dark and wet with drips everywhere and lots of puddles, loads of fun.
About 500m the far side of the tunnel you’ll reach Durrow, where a carpark, some picnic tables and a traditional pub and adjoining sweetshop are very welcome. The kids enjoyed ice-creams and penny sweets and the parents watched other adults enjoy pints of cider in the sunshine while we drank 7-Up. You won’t get food other than snacks here so if it’s a picnic you are after bring your own. There are toilets you can use here too, and they are a great throwback to the 70s – the ladies’ has a brown bathroom suite which we hadn’t seen for a very long time (if ever!).
The tag-along took some getting used to for both parties, it unbalances the adult bike a little, and the child needs to learn to go with the movement of the bike or they get thrown around a little. Cue some arguments from an already tired child who had cycled 2km under her own steam, some walking, some very slow (to the disgust of the boys) stretches and eventually we got properly up and running.
After our refreshments we powered back, the smallest had gotten used to her tag-along at that stage and was jeering as they overtook me. She collected her bike where we had left it at the Clonea red gates but had a couple of crashes.
Around 7.30pm we returned our bikes, 4 hours on the Greenway later much longer than we expected, but happy after a fun day out. What’s our verdict?
Would we recommend it?
The boys said it was the best day they had had in ages and wanted to go again the next day! The parents want to return without kids and do the whole Greenway, and the small girl said she HATED it, but she loved the wet tunnel, but she might go back when she is eight, or eleven, so that’s five out of five. We’d recommend for families with independent cyclists from 7 up or toddlers who you can lull to sleep in the carriages that are towed by bikes.
The official Waterford Greenway site is HERE
You can see a map of the Greenway HERE.