The 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 and joins the former Mullingar – Athlone railway track. This section amounts to a 42km section of the proposed 277km of the overall Galway to Dublin Cycleway travels through the scenic landscape of County Westmeath via the settlements of Castletown Geoghegan, Streamstown and onto the town of Moate before arriving in Athlone at Whitegates.
The route has been identified as a significant marketing tool in the promotion of Ireland as a cycle destination. It will form 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 42km is along the existing disused Mullingar to Athlone railway line, commencing at Newbrook Mullingar and finishing at Whitegates in Athlone.
Planning for the third section from Whitegates to the Marina Building, Athlone (1km) was approved in 2016. This section also follows the disused railway line from Whitegates to Montree before passing under the railway line and along the perimeter of St Vincent's Hospital and onto the Marina. The underpass was installed by Irish Rail over the Easter weekend 2019 and it is anticipated that te section from Whitegates to the Marina will be completed in early 2020.
The forth section is to the west of the Marina Building where, an exciting route has been developed to cross the River Shannon with a new bridge and link to Athlone Castle where the development of a new cycle-hub is planned is at detailed design stage.
The final section from Athlone Castle to the Roscommon border and on to Galway City is currently at route selection stage.
Proposed bridge crossing the River Shannon