The proposed Westmeath section of the Galway to Dublin Cycleway extends from the existing Royal Canal Greenway in Mullingar to the town of Athlone. While the route of the Royal Canal Greenway extends north of Mullingar towards Coolnahay, the route of the Galway to Dublin Cycleway branches off from the canal towpath joining the former Mullingar – Athlone railway track. This section amounts to a 40km section of the proposed 277km of the overall Galway to Dublin Cycleway travelling through the scenic landscape of CountyWestmeath via the settlements of Castletown Geoghegan, Streamstown and onto the town of Moate before arriving on the eastern side of Athlone in the townland of Garrycastle.
The route has been identified as a significant marketing tool in the promotion of Ireland as a cycle destination and as part of the greater trans-European cycle route, EuroVelo 2, linking the capitals across Europe.
Key features of the Galway to Dublin Cycleway will include:
The Cycleway will be an important national tourism asset, attracting walkers and cyclists from all over Ireland, Europe and beyond. It will also provide recreational opportunities for local communities along the route.
Westmeath County Council are committed to fulfilling the vision of the NCN and seek ‘To encourage and facilitate safe walking and cycling routes in the county, as a viable alternative to the private car, in accordance with initiatives contained within “Smarter Travel, A Sustainable Transport Future 2009-2020”, taking account of the need to protect habitats and species of importance.’ (Westmeath County Development Plan 2014 -2020)
The Westmeath Section of the Galway to Dublin Cycleway is being progressed in five sections.
The first section, The Royal Canal Way, comprising of 22km is open from the Meath County Boundary to Mullingar (Newbrook).
The second section, comprising of 40km is along the existing disused Mullingar to Athlone railway line, commencing at Newbrook Mullingar and finishing at Garrycastle on the eastern edge of Athlone is open.
The third section is from Garrycastle to the Marina Building Athlone, 3.3km, which is currently subject to Part VIII Planning Process. This section also follows the disused railway line from Garrycastle to Montree before passing under the Railway line and along the perimeter of St Vincents Hosiptal onto the Marina. - Planning Department
The forth section isto the west of the Marina Building, a route is currently being developed to link this project across the River Shannon to Athlone Castle were a new cyclehub is proposed to be developed. That section will be the subject of an EIS, which will be published Spring 2016.
The final section from Athlone Castle to the Roscommon border is currently paused.
Proposed bridge crossing the River Shannon