New weekend traffic management arrangements for Laragh and Glendalough
Weekend traffic management arrangements will be introduced in Laragh to deal with the problems caused by the large volumes of cars entering the village on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays to visit Glendalough and surrounding areas from 4e June
This pilot project will involve:
- Provision of a free bus service (weekend/holiday) to connect Laragh car park on the R755 and the Glendalough Visitor Centre.
- Signs to warn drivers when the upper car park and Glendalough Visitor Center car park are full and drivers will be directed to the Laragh car park. It is accessed by following the directional signs provided.
The public is invited to help by:
- Use public transport/bicycles where available
- Carpooling with friends
- Park in designated areas only and obey the requests of our parking staff
- Do not park illegally on public roads where your vehicle will interfere with other users/emergency services and may be fined/restricted.
In the meantime, an update on the Visitor Experience and Management Master Plan for the Glendalough National Park and Wicklow Mountains Project Update is below:
A multi-disciplinary team led by Consarc Design Group was appointed by Fáilte Ireland in August 2020 to provide a visitor experience and management master plan for Glendalough and the Wicklow Mountains National Park and visitor orientation recommendations for the County Wicklow. The project is overseen by a steering group made up of key state and local government bodies – NPWS, OPW, NMS, Coilte and Wicklow County Council, coordinated by Fáilte Ireland.
Objective of the plan
The aim of the plan is to improve the visitor experience in County Wicklow, recognizing that some areas of the county are already exceeding their optimum carrying capacity, causing traffic congestion, damage to the natural environment and disruption to the local community.
The plan does not aim to increase visitor numbers as such, but recognizes that visitor numbers are increasing and are likely to increase and therefore aims to put in place measures that will; ensure a positive visitor experience, protect the built and natural cultural heritage of the region, prevent unacceptable disturbance to the local community, increase and more equitably distribute the economic benefits of tourism.
The intention is to look at the full range of attractions and activities for visitors to the county, but to date the focus has been on active outdoor pursuits – primarily walking and cycling, and visitor experience in the Glendalough Valley due to environmental impact and disruption to local communities. There is strong evidence that the marked increase in participation in outdoor activities triggered by Covid19 restrictions will be a permanent feature.
An extensive public consultation process was conducted in 2021 and identified a number of issues related to outdoor activities that are reflected in all types of visitor experience.
- Congestion at key sites
- Lower quality of visitor experience than other major tourist areas
- Concerns about safety, capacity and quality of car parks and visitor services
- Erosion and environmental degradation
- Lack of awareness of opportunities across the county – particularly underserved and undervisited South West Wicklow.
- Negative impacts on the host community – anti-social behavior, cars blocking access to the farm, etc.
The draft plan which was prepared at the end of 2021 and approved by the steering group at the start of 2022 includes detailed plans for walking, mountain biking and family cycling which will involve a mix of improvement and extension of existing supply, investment in environmental impact management and new provisions, particularly in off-road family cycling which is significantly under-planned at the moment.
Reinforcing the special significance of Glendalough
There is a general consensus that the significance and character of Glendalough is being eroded by commerce, cars and clamor. The draft plan therefore includes proposals to address this issue and improve the visitor experience.
The proposals are phased and intended to be phased in gradually. They involve the enhancement of the monastic site and its landscape setting, fusing built and natural heritage values and allowing visitors to understand the powerful relationship with the natural environment that drew St Kevin and generations of his followers to the valley first.
Stage 1 An improved version of the current situation with the temporary layout of the overflow car park at Laragh made permanent, a new off-road walking and cycling path between Laragh and Glendalough and the existing visitor center expanded to include interpretation of the natural environment . Seasonal restrictions for private cars on the road between the Glendalough Hotel and the Upper Lake car park.
Stage 2 Seasonal restrictions on private car access to Lake Superior car park with shuttle bus to complement walking and cycling options, with development of larger, permanent car parks and visitor facilities at Laragh.
Phase 3 Ongoing development of arrival facilities at Laragh based on demand with the aim of improving the overall visitor experience, reducing traffic and pollution in and around the monastic site and lakes and encouraging longer stays long. Traffic from residents and hotel guests to Glendalough remains as it is.
The draft plan is now undergoing three detailed reviews by specialized working groups.
SEA – Strategic Environmental Assessment
During this process, the draft plan is subjected to a detailed evaluation by the expert members of the steering group. Throughout the plan development process, potential environmental impacts were considered. This filtered through a number of initial proposals and helped shape the draft plan. The SEA will be submitted for public consultation this summer as part of the Plan finalization process.
A separate working group is currently preparing the economic evaluation of the draft plan. This is a key document to justify the considerable capital and revenue investments required to implement the Plan.
Management and delivery
A key message from the public consultation was that mechanisms for the continued management of visitors to the area and the delivery of plan proposals were essential if the plan was to have public trust and support. The team has prepared a draft management and delivery structure which is currently being reviewed by a working group of the steering group and the outcome of which will be a key element of the final plan.
It is hoped that these three streams of work will be completed by early fall 2022.
For more information email [email protected]