With so many people working together to find ways to make austerity more bearable these days, a plan that will make walking both fun and interesting has to be a winner. And if it gives access to those free treasures in our midst – the natural environment and our rich heritage – it should earn top marks for being cheap, healthy and educational all at the same time.
It is pretty special that Callan can boast three national monuments in its central district – the Moat, St Mary’s and the Augustinian Abbey – but how many towns do you know that have an otter family living right in the bank of the river at the heart of town?
Two local groups in Callan, the Callan Heritage Society and the Camphill Community, are working together with the Kilkenny County Council to make a nature and heritage footpath in the Moat Fields that will create access to the moat itself but also provide a 1.5-kilometre walk that will be wheelchair and buggy friendly, that is off-road and that will bring the casual walker into contact with a variety of natural habitats.
Kilkenny Leader Partnership has already supported Trail Kilkenny projects along the Nore from Kilkenny to Bennettsbridge and beyond, and at various other locations in the county. The hope is that KLP will provide support for a footpath in Callan that will provide a good leg-stretching ramble for local people and also provide information for visitors about the heritage and wildlife of the area. The path will begin from Bridge Street, going up Moat Lane and across the field to follow the ancient Mill Race, pass under the by-pass bridge, and loop back along the river bank.
Most of the details of the project have not been worked out, and the promoters are eager to get the views and interest of local people about what should be featured. A foot access into Westcourt Demesne is one possibility and a long-term hope is that a boardwalk could be constructed along the river wall linking the Moat Field to the Abbey Meadow – but that could be a long way off.
A public consultation is being held on October 17, beginning with a walk of the proposed route, leaving the Mill Lane Car Park at 5.30pm. The walk will be followed by a discussion and visual presentations at 7pm in the KCAT Art and Study Centre.
The more local input that can be developed, the better the final result will be so everyone with an interest is actively invited to attend and get involved.