River Suir Bridge

Waterford Greenway: River Suir

Walking downhill to the tunnel I heard familiar gentle, somewhat melancholic whistles. My heart skipped a beat  – Bullfinches! First time this year! I looked around and saw three birds, two males and a female, quite afar, and in the blinding sunlight. I took pictures, and stood there with a huge smile on my face. I so love these birds, their stocky bodies and unhurried manners. They don’t have the cheerful voice and funny curiosity of Robins, but their quiet presence is so soothing and comfortable 🙂

We meet again and resume our walk along the River Suir. This tunnel was built under the bypass to facilitate the railway. Notice the combination of a steep downhill gradient and a sharp curve.

Donovan tunnel

Dan Donovan supervised the laying of this railway track.

A look back at the River Suir Bridge.

Waterford Greenway

Beautiful views on the both sides of the track – lush green countryside and tranquil River Suir, charming at any season of the year.

Gorse bushes are in bloom and smell like honey.

This is one of the sharpest curves on the line.

Waterford Greenway

Here the cycling path deviates from the railway track. I walked both.

It was fun walking on the tracks between the river and the thick wild growth of brambles, thorny bushes and reed grass. I felt like I was cut off from the rest of the world.

Waterford Greenway

Dry yesteryear reed grass was making calming rustling sounds – actually there were no other sounds, and I didn’t see any birds.

The reed grass jungle looks more beautiful in winter than in summer, especially when it is bending in the wind and has that silvery silky look.

I took some double exposure photographs – one of dandelions…

… and one of a wild plum blossoms.

Looking at the new growth I thought about the wildlife in the area. These gentle weeds that are poking through the track bed will grow and obstruct the path. Will the maintenance team use herbicides? My thoughts went to the little Robin.

Another  look back. The buildings in the background belong to the new campus of Waterford IT. The campus is situated on the banks of the River Suir in Woodstown and Carriganore, or Stone of Gold in Irish. Woodstown is the site where numerous Viking era artifacts were found when the area was inspected before building the motorway. There were no indications that the Woodstown site could have any historical importance, but there has always been a myth  that Carriganore was the place where the merchants of Waterford buried their treasures hiding them from Cromwell. Finally, 39 test trenches were excavated in Carriganore in 2007 but nothing significant was found, only a few pieces of broken pottery ( 19th-20th century).

On the right side of the tracks there are old lime kilns. When putting up this blog I realised that I have never taken a single picture of them, because they just look boring, and they are also obstructed with some construction materials. You see many lime kilns when you travel around Ireland. The practice of burning lime was very common in the last century. The lime was used as fertiliser. The wood for fuel was brought from across the river by boat.

I have got a word that there is a Barn owl living in the kilns. I am not sure whether it is still living there with all these construction works, cyclists and dogs.

Waterford Greenway

This is where I parked my car. Next week we will resume our walk from here.

Waterford Greenway

Thank you for joining me for this walk.

Due to special circumstances, I am closing comments on this post and also on some of my future posts. I am very sorry and hope you will bear with me ❤

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Greenway: do it the green way

I absolutely believe that every child should have the experience of riding a train. I don’t remember my first train ride. I was only two weeks old then. The trains have changed a lot since, and most of the railways have been closed.

The first public railway in Ireland was opened in 1834 between Dublin and Kingstown ( now Dún Laoghaire ) despite local opposition. The railway line between Waterford and Dungarvan was built in the 1870’s to link up with the Lismore and Mallow railway. The stations along the route were Kilmeadan, Kilmacthomas and Durrow. It was a very expensive line to be built at the time, with a 418 feet long tunnel, three stone viaducts, two causeways, a number of bridges and three road crossings. The railway line was officially opened in August 1878 with the first train departing Waterford at 10.10.

The first pedal-driven bicycle arrived to Ireland in the 1860’s. It was heavy and uncomfortable, and didn’t impress most of the population. The things changed in the 1880’s with the introduction of the chain-driven bicycle and Dunlop’s pneumatic tyres. Cycling became a part of the everyday modern life, however the ladies wearing trousers caused quite a stir and often faced verbal abuse.

St Patrick's Parade

The Waterford-Dungarvan railway line was closed in the 1960’s as part of a major program of line closures. The last passenger train left Dungarvan for Roscrea in 1967. The tracks were removed in the 1990’s, but later Kilmeadan-Waterford section of the route was leased to the Suir Valley Railway group, and the tracks were restored. The Waterford & Suir Valley Heritage route was opened to the public in 2004. The route operates from April to September, and also during Christmas holidays, midterm etc. At the same time, a Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan section of the railway was developed as a walkway/cycle path.

Some facts and anecdotes from the Waterford railway history can be found in this link.

Railways are declining. Cyclists are thriving 🙂

St Patrick's Parade

In 2013, the Deise Greenway group handed over 7000 signatures of support to the Mayor of Waterford County and the Major of Waterford City for the Greenway bicycle route  to be developed in the place of the disused railway line from Waterford to Dungarvan. In 2014 the project was approved.

 

Complete route has been launched today, yet construction works are still in progress. I have walked the Greenway on many occasions, and decided to put up four blog posts with photographs from different sections, so that you know how many photo opportunities the route can offer 🙂 These are all early spring pictures.

We start the route from Gracedieu, Waterford.

waterford

Waterford Greenway

The most beautiful feature on this stretch of the road is the Red Iron Bridge.

Red Iron Bridge

The bridge was constructed in 1906 to link the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry as a route for ‘boat trains’ and faster transatlantic mail delivery. Local children used to walk across the bridge to get a can of coke from a shop on the other side. It was a beautiful nine span bridge with the central span opening  for shipping. It still has its control cabin from where powerful hydraulic mechanisms were operated to lift and lover the central span.

Red iron bridge

red iron bridge

Now the central span is removed and the bridge looks gap-toothed…

The bridge has always attracted the local youth. To get to the bridge you have to walk a muddy path. If you walk off the path you step on a wobbly surface that used to be a local kids favorite fun.  It is quite scary, but probably exciting for the kids to walk on the wobbling ground ( I did it). Teenagers used to come here and drink some beer. I don’t know if someone is still coming here, I have to go and check out. This photograph was taken in 2005.

On the opposite side of the river there is a group of derelict buildings and abandoned boats. It was a busy area in years gone by.

Newrath

waterford

Newrath

We keep walking along the Greenway path ( watch for the dog poop) and leave the Red Iron Bridge behind. I always hope to see birds, and lucky me – there is a Robin.

robin

The Robin is inspecting the cracks in the wooden sleepers.

robin

His body language is so cute 🙂

robin

robin

After a quiet conversation with a neighbor they both take off.

robin

Another landmark is The River Suir Bridge – a cable stayed bridge with a length of 475 m (1558 f)  that was opened in 2009. I drove over this bridge twice with no reason, just for fun. This bridge has the same purpose as the abandoned railway – to connect the port of Rosslare to Cork and Kerry.

Waterford Bridge

Waterford Bridge

On the opposite side there is a green field, tangled brambles, ferns and ivies. I imagine how beautiful this all looks in summer.

I love the silhouettes of dry plants still standing as if there was no winter.

This walk took one hour. There is a tunnel around the bend, and next week we will start from there.

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!