The beautiful walking routes around the Tintern Abbey were officially introduced by Minister Paul Kehoe T.D.
At the address of a meeting of about 80 people, Minister Kehoe spoke about Tintern's remarkable history and the importance of a facility that includes the type of beauty, history and heritage of Tintern Abbey, Saltmills and St Kearns.
Deputy Kehoe said: I believe that we have something with enormous potential to grow and develop further in the future. & # 39;
Other speakers at the launch were Pat Neville, Communications Manager at Coillte; Charlie Burke, recreational officer and initiator of the Woodlands for Health, Coillte program; Breda Lynch, promoter, OPW: Cllr Martin Murphy, who was deputy chairman of the County Council, Keith Doyle and chairman of the Tintern Trails Development Committee, Pat Caulfield.
Abbey of Tintern and the surrounding forests have long been recognized as a wonderful facility. In the 1980s, a local community group worked on the development of a loop walk along the Wexford Coastal Path that links Tintern Abbey, Saltmills and St Kearns. This work formed a start for the development of what is now the Tintern Trails.
In 2013, the Tintern Trails Development Committee was established as a sub-group of Hook Rural Tourism and the development of three loop tracks was started. Today there are five loop-shaped hiking trails with a length of 16 kilometers, including a section of five kilometers suitable for buggies and a shorter section suitable for wheelchairs.
Four of the trails are completely in the Tintern Woods. Each course has a color code (blue, red, green, purple and orange) and the length and the number are clearly indicated, so that walkers can easily choose the path that best suits their options.
Each of the speakers at the launch emphasized the importance of cooperation and cooperation to support initiatives such as the paths that benefit both the local community and tourism. It was noted that the considerable progress made in developing the trails was only possible because of the support and encouragement received by the committee. In particular, mention was made of the value of Coillte's support, the Wexford County Council, the Department of Community & Rural Affairs, the OPW, the CE and TUS schemes, Hook Rural Tourism, the Wexford Walking Trail Network and the local community.
As the owners of the Tintern Woodlands Coillte have supported the development of the paths from the beginning, among other things by helping to clear paths, supplying wood for seats and for the beautiful carvings that offer extra interest along the paths. More recently, Coillte has also built a much-needed parking garage for walkers.
The support of the Wexford County Council was also vital for maintaining momentum by supplying material for trail surfaces, funding for planting and by taking the Eurovelo route through Tintern, and the Council has developed the Green Trail considerably facilitated.
The Tintern Trails are part of the Wexford Walking Trail network.
Pat Caulfield thanked the OPW for their understanding in the light of the extra pressure on parking spaces and he expressed the hope that the new car park for walkers would alleviate this pressure and facilitate more visitors to the abbey.
He also stressed the importance of the CE and TUS schemes for the development of the hiking trails and described the workers on the schemes as the unsung heroes of the Tintern Trails project. & # 39; Their interest, energy and enthusiasm were exemplary, & # 39; he said.
To date, the costs for developing the trails have come from a combination of volunteering, local fundraising events, in-kind contributions and subsidies from local and national government sources.
The estimated costs of the work carried out so far on the paths, including labor, amount to € 400,000.
Mr. Caulfield noted that while the development of the paths is now complete, the maintenance continues and the committee starts a number of new initiatives.
These initiatives include a biodiversity program to help people identify some of the plants found in Tintern forests; a family orientation device using the woodwork along the paths and a Woodlands for Health project in collaboration with Coillte, HSE, Mental Health Ireland and Sports Active Wexford.
Tintern has been chosen as a suitable location for the Woodlands for Health project in Wexford and this is made possible by the Trails Committee. The project is intended for people who use local mental health care and includes weekly walks in a wooded area during a period of 12 weeks.
In his speech at the launch, Coillte & # 39; s representative and initiator of the project, Charlie Burke, said that research with nature through outdoor activities can have a positive effect on the mental health and well-being of people. An evaluation of the project in Wicklow showed that participants improved their mood by 75 percent and slept by 66 percent. Moreover, their suicidal thoughts decreased by 82 percent.
The members of the Tintern Trails Development Committee are all local people and the Chairman thanked them for their hard work to get the path project at this stage, for their commitment to continuous development and their dedication to ensure that Tintern continues to enjoy national treasures from today.
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