Riding a bike after an extended hiatus can feel like reuniting with an old friend. You might start off unsure, teetering awkwardly and trying to recall where that damn center of balance might be inside of you. But once you begin finding your cadence, pumping your legs left and right, letting stray hairs tickle the side of your face, you’ll naturally begin to relax. It feels like you are picking up right where you left off; closing the gap between your present moment and not-too-distant past and there is no better place to do it than the Waterford Greenway. It is a horizontal portal to Ireland’s crayon green fields, weathered pubs that have served countless pints of beer long before you were born, the smell of fresh rain on ancient stone buildings, and a glimpse into daily life happening around you.
What is the Waterford Greenway?
The Waterford Greenway (also known as Déise Greenway) was formerly a railway line that has been repurposed into 46 kilometers or 28.6 miles of butter-smooth paved roads. It opened early 2017 and has been steadily growing in popularity ever since. It’s practically impossible not to like; there’s something magical about letting brisk air glide across your face as you see idyllic landscapes and historical landmarks. As Ireland’s longest greenway, it stretches from the ancient city of Waterford to Dungarvan across 11 bridges, 3 viaducts, and a 400-meter tunnel. Although 46km can seem long, I assure you this ride is anything but boring. I was continually delighted by encountering little treasures such as handmade fairy doors in the Durrow Tunnel and reveling in the beauty of the cobalt blue waters of Clonea Beach.
What is the best Waterford Greenway starting point?
There are three main entry points for the Waterford Greenway, however, you can also begin in any of the cities that run between Waterford, Mount Congreve, Kilmeaden, Kilmacthomas, and Dungarvan. If you are looking to do the entire 46km, you can begin at either end in Waterford or Dungarvan. I’d recommend beginning in Waterford though, to save the tropical vibe of the Durrow/Ballyvoyle tunnel and the picturesque views of the Clonea Beach as a grand finale to your ride. Kilmacthomas is located in the precise middle of the greenway with a distance of 23km to either end and another great starting jumpoff if you want to trim your ride time in half. Keep in mind that all 3 of the viaducts are located between the Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan stretch, so if you are only going to ride half of the greenway, make sure it is this one.
How long will it take to cycle the Waterford Greenway?
It really depends on how often you plan to stop. The Waterford Greenway is best appreciated as a leisurely ride with an emphasis on the journey instead of the destination. Sure; if you blaze straight through the 46km stopping only when necessary, you could bang out the ride in under 2 hours. However, I’d recommend making a full day (5-6 hours) with plenty of stops for coffee, snacks, photo opportunities, and soaking in the changing landscape around you. My group took about 3 hours to cycle 23km from Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan. During this time, we were able to work in a tea and biscuit break at O’Mahony’s Bar and Shop, capture drone footage, and record anything and everything we came across.
Is this going to be strenuous? Am I going to get sweaty and regret doing this?
The Waterford Greenway is flat and silky like Kyoto tofu. It’s great for all ages from young to old, families, runners, dogs, skateboarders, scooters, walkers– you name it. I may be biased here, but I think it is best enjoyed by bicycle (I enjoyed this ride immensely). Anyone in average health may work up a mild sweat, but that can easily be adjusted by changing gears or speeds. Let’s just say, it’s one of those roads where you can try riding with “no hands, ma”. Witness this for yourself with three videos from my travel vlogger pals Dave on Arrival, Here Be Barr, and Todd Hata of the Waterford Greenway.
What are some points of interest or good places to stop?
As I mentioned above, I recommend traveling in the direction of Waterford to Dungarvan because of Clonea Beach “grand finale”. I’ve arranged a list of photo opportunities or places you might want to stop from Waterford to Kilmacthomas, and then Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan.
Waterford to Kilmacthomas – 23km
Thomas Frances Meagher Bridge
Kilmeaden Castle ruins
Kilmacthomas to Dungarvan – 23km
Coach House Coffee – Kilmacthomas
O’Mahony’s Bar and Shop – Shanacool
Durrow Tunnel (also known as Ballyvoyle tunnel)
Where should I get my bicycle from?
I got my bicycle from Waterford Greenway Bike Hire. They have three depots conveniently located along the greenway in Waterford, Kilmacthomas, and Dungarvan and fully equipped with helmets, bungee cords, etc. which makes it easy as pie to rent your bike from any of their locations and get going straight away. The part I appreciate most about their service is that they have a free shuttle bus that can take you from any of the three locations back to your car. This is a serious bonus if you aren’t keen on backtracking or need to get back in a timely manner. My group began cycling in Kilmacthomas, ended in Dungarvan and then took the shuttle back to our car in Kilmacthomas.
Please note Waterford Greenway Bike Hire sponsored my bicycle for my ride. They were nothing but helpful, full of smiles, and come highly recommended from me. Big thank you to Dooley’s Hotel in Waterford for connecting us!
What should I wear to cycle the Waterford Greenway?
Not the biggest surprise in the world– Ireland can be a rainy place. Avoid the annoying stripe of mud that may spray on your back from a wet wheel by wearing a rain jacket that can be easily cleaned. The weather can change in an instant, so it’s best to come prepared with a hooded rain jacket, gloves, beanie/hat, and athletic shoes/boots. If you plan on bringing a backpack or purse, you may want to bring a plastic bag so it doesn’t get wet in the event of rain.
You are now armed with all of the information you’ll need to happily cruise along the Waterford Greenway. I hope you’ll enjoy this ride just as much as I did! I can’t stress enough that this is a fantastic way to connect with Ireland’s lush landscape. If you’ve already ridden the greenway or plan on heading there soon, I want to hear all about it in the comments below.
Check out Here Be Barr’s (Jon Barr) video of our stay at Dooley’s Hotel in Waterford and our cycling along the Waterford Greenway