Cycling the Waterford Greenway with a Toddler

Excuse me while I just lay here on the bed for a bit…my legs are like jelly because we cycled 44km today. I haven’t exercised in months or been on a bike in years so I’m pretty shattered, but it’s been an amazing day and I feel great. So if like me you fancy getting out in nature, but think you’d not be able for it, consider doing a Greenway cycle.

The Waterford to Dungarvan Greenway is a 46km walking and cycle track constructed along an old railway that opened 2 years ago. Its the longest off road cycling track in Ireland and it’s an amazing facility, with lovely smooth flat paths along a scenic route. It’s perfect for families, because you aren’t worrying about traffic and can go at whatever pace suits you. It isn’t completely traffic free as the trail crosses a few roads, but they are all quiet roads and clearly sign posted.

We hired bikes at Kilmacthomas which is a pretty little village midway along the Greenway with plenty of bakeries, cafes and ample parking. A tip here is to follow the Google directions to the village, not the Greenway, because that brings you to a large car park a few miles away, but not the bike hire places in the village.

There was no fuss hiring bikes, and they were good quality bikes. A path out the back of the bike shop took us directly onto the Greenway and we were off.

My husband got the short straw of pulling a trailer with our toddler in, which he said made the bike a bit heavier and less manoeuvrable, but on a straight flat route that wasn’t an issue.

I was pretty nervous my toddler wouldn’t like it which would have made it the most expensive short cycle ever. At first she kind of seemed slumped in the seat harness. I’d brought a blanket which she’d kicked off straight away so I used that to support her back and she was much better. The trailer had a rain cover but she preffered it with it off and the wind in her hair. It also had a mesh cover which protected her from bugs and stones, but a few fine speckles of mud did get through from the damp ground.

We cycled in the direction of Dungarvan with the intention of turning back if it was too hard, but we made it all the way. The scenery along the way was great with lots of views of the green countryside and the coast.

At one point the track goes through a tunnel for 400 metres which is very atmospheric, and some older kids were having great fun hiding in the arches. Either side of the tunnel the track passes between rocky walls which have become a fairy door village.

If you like nature it’s a great location, because the track passes by lots of fields of cows. It’s so quiet you can hear birds singing, and there are lots of bug hotels to attract insects. I can attest to them working because I swallowed a few flying bugs along the way.

The route also crosses a number of impressive viaducts, but from the track you would almost not knowing you are going over them.

There aren’t too many places to stop along that section of the route. There is a small playground and at Durrow there is an old fashioned pub and shop which is worth stopping at to see how country shops used to be, and enjoy an icecream on the benches outside.

It took us just under 2 hours to reach Dungarvan and I was ready for a nice coffee and lunch and run around with our toddler, but I was a bit disappointed. As the terminus of the Greenway I had expected there to be a plethora of cafes with tables outside and places to store bikes. Instead there was just a few picnic tables overlooking the water, with a main road running right by. We had to nip to a cafe to get sandwiches and bring them back, which on a sunny day would have nice, but it was a bit dull for that.

What was worse was the amount of dog poo left by selfish owners. It was all over the cycle path in Dungarvan and right by the picnic tables. There was even some in the Greenway play park. How selfish do you have to be to let your dog poo in a children’s playground and then not clean it up! It’s such a shame because the council have invested a lot in this great facility which is getting well used, but it will only stay nice if people respect it and pick up their litter and dog poo.

By the time it came to cycle back the thought of another 22km was pretty daunting. The cycle hire company does have shuttle buses if you want to just go one way, but I wasn’t sure about the rules for toddlers without car seats, so it felt safer to do a round trip.

Luckily there are markers every kilometre so I could work out I was a quarter, a third then half way back and pretty soon I was counting down in single didget kilometres. Our toddler pretty much slept the whole way back lulled by the motion.

We were back at the car by 4pm, so plenty of tine to get back to the hotel for showers and dinner – see more about our hotel here…

The Waterford Greenway isn’t the only one in Ireland, but it is the longest. We had previously cycled the scenic Achill to Westport one a few years ago, and this one is equally enjoyable. There are plans to get more across the country and I really hope they go ahead. They are a great facility for families to get active and close to nature, even if they aren’t comfortable with traffic and not regular cyclists, a d I would recommend it as a fun activity to do with a toddler.

For more information about the Waterford Greenway visit…

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