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Policy Information

The Walks Scheme and Rural Recreation Officers

Published: 22 November 2018
From: Department of Rural and Community Development

The Walks Scheme

The Walks Scheme is a national scheme involving landholders on National Waymarked Ways, Looped Walking Routes and Heritage Routes, and other trails approved by the National Trails Office. Rural Recreation Officers are responsible for the rollout of the National Walks Scheme.

The Walks Scheme has resulted in the development and enhancement of nearly 40 trails. The rural recreation officers have also negotiated and managed maintenance contracts with over 1,890 landowners.

As a result, significant social and economic benefits for local communities have been achieved including:

  • additional jobs in the accommodation sector
  • new business ventures such as bike hire and coffee shops, including more jobs in the supply of outdoor recreational equipment and services
  • a noticeable growth in registered walking clubs
  • a significant increase in the number and duration of walking festivals which generate additional bed nights in small villages and the wider rural area.
  • maintenance payments to landholders for trail development, generating an income stream for rural communities of €5.4 million over a 4-year period
  • an injection of €600,000 into the local economy, over the same period, as a result of spending on materials for the maintenance of trails

You can find a list of the trails and walks on the scheme here.

Rural Recreation Officers

The department funds the employment of 12 rural recreation officers through 12 Local Development Companies in the following counties:

    Clare Cork Donegal Galway (Gaeltacht)
    Kerry Kilkenny Laois Mayo
    Roscommon Sligo Tipperary Wicklow

The responsibilities of the rural recreation officer include:

  • carrying out of the National Countryside Recreation strategy
  • overseeing work on the general upkeep, upgrade and rerouting of trails
  • assisting Fáilte Ireland in the development, marketing and promotion of trails and key walking destinations, including media and trade visits
  • working with local communities in developing trails and assisting in organising walking festivals
  • assisting with the implementation of the ‘Leave No Trace’ initiative

To contact a rural recreation officer, please contact your Rural Recreation Officer here.

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