The Vartry Reservoir loop walks were completed in June 2018 and officially opened by An Taoiseach Leo Varadar on a fantastic day for the village of Roundwood. There is now almost 20km of walks available to the community of Roundwood and to visitors to the area to enjoy as outlined on the map boards on site and above.
The Vartry Reservoirs in Roundwood are owned and managed by Dublin City Council/Irish Water for the provision of potable water to South Dublin and North Wicklow. As well as their scenic beauty the Vartry Reservoirs have an interesting cultural, historical and functional value and are an important recreational resource for locals and visitors to the area. The potential of the area was totally underutilised. From consultation with the local community and tourism industry in the area the enhancement of the walks in the Vartry Reservoir area was high on the agenda.
The area is a haven for birdlife including great crested grebes, little grebes, teal and more recently home to the less common Little Egret, which resembles a medium sized white heron, often seen foraging for small fish, frogs, snails and insects in the wetlands of the Reservoirs.
The Ogham Tree Trail is a very popular and creative addition to the Upper Vartry Trail. This project was completed by the Roundwood Men’s Shed. With the help of sculptor Shane O’Draoi, the members of the shed carve the details of leaves, fruit and seeds of each tree on a large oak post along with the English, Irish, Ogham and Latin name of the species. Rubbings of this information can be taken from the stakes. In the majority of cases the posts are placed beside an existing tree along path way around the Upper Vartry reservoir. However a number of native trees not present were also planted.
The trail provides a fantastic education tool for local schools, scout and other groups to bring a wider understanding of the connections between our linguistic and natural heritage. It has generated much interest in the local community and visitors to the area. The planting of native species is also adding to the biodiversity of the area.
The development and upgrade of the walks around the Vartry Reservoirs provides the community and visitors with safe access to areas which was previously unpassable.
This amenity is now more accessible to the village of Roundwood through successful appeals to Wicklow Co Council for footpaths from the village to the main access points on the busy R755 and the R765 roads.
The walks are bringing economic benefit to Roundwood village and local tourism providers as they provide an additional eco-tourism product to the area. The presence of these sustainable trails provides walkers of the Wicklow Way and day trippers to the area with more walking options resulting in additional overnight stays in the area and increased footfall in local shops and food outlets with the associated economic benefits.
The provision of these walks ties in well with many local and national strategies including the Action Plan for Rural Communities, the Wicklow Outdoor Recreational Strategy, the Co Wicklow Development Plan, Bord Failte’s Ireland’s Ancient East and the HSE’s Get Ireland Active initiatives.
The success of this project is down to the excellent working relationship fostered between the landowners Dublin City Council/Irish Water local management particularly, Ned Fleming and the Roundwood & District Community Council. Constant consultation with various state agencies including Wicklow County Council, National Parks and Wildlife Service and Inland Fisheries Ireland, Co Wicklow Partnership and the local community ensured that the project ran smoothly.
So there’s a lot going on and plenty to see in and around the Vartry Reservoirs so why not take a walk on the trails. Access the walks from the parking area developed at Knockraheen on the Newtown Road (R765) or the car park on the Mullinaveigue, Bray Road (R755)
Please respect the area by bringing home any litter especially if you are walking your dog. With respect to other users, wildlife and farm animals in the area all dogs should be on leads.