The greenway network in Derry-Londonderry has recently been expanded. In this blog, Geraldine McFadden, Communications and Marketing Officer for Sustrans in Northern Ireland, takes us on a journey along the new Strathfoyle Greenway and explains the joys and sights she experiences while walking and cycling.
The Strathfoyle Greenway runs a distance of 1.7 miles from the end of the Waterside Greenway at Foyle Bridge to Stradowen Drive. Credits: Geraldine Mcfadden
While Derry-Londonderry is a city with an urban edginess, it is blessed to be built upon the banks of the river Foyle.
Its greenway network follows the flow of the Foyle, thankfully on mostly flat land in contrast to the extreme hilliness of other areas both on the ‘Cityside’ and ‘Waterside’ of Derry.
The most recent addition is the Strathfoyle Greenway, running a distance of 1.7 miles from the end of the Waterside Greenway at Foyle Bridge to Stradowen Drive in an otherwise isolated housing area called Strathfoyle.
A new addition to the Waterside
The Waterside Greenway begins at the North West Multi Modal Transport Hub, home to our North West Active Travel Centre, between the double-decker Craigavon Bridge (the lower deck originally carried trains) and the traffic-free Peace Bridge.
Crossing either of these bridges brings you directly onto further Greenways in the ‘cityside’ which allows you to travel all the way to Donegal in either direction, parts of which incorporate the North West Greenway Network.
But the newest addition is entirely on the Waterside.
Passing by the historic former military barracks of Ebrington, now being transformed into a multi-purpose space to live, work and socialise, the first stage of the Waterside Greenway brings you into the wooded surroundings of St Columb’s Park.
The park is a popular place for families, dog walkers, runners and people who cycle, with medieval ruins in its midst.
The Waterside Greenway runs between the Peace Bridge and the former military barracks at Ebrington in the heart of Derry-Londonderry, leading to the new Strathfoyle Greenway. Credits: Geraldine Mcfadden
Surrounded by birdsong
The greenway path runs parallel to the Belfast train line. It now continues under the edifices of the 1980s Foyle Bridge, joining the new Strathfoyle Greenway, which we hope to be soon formally incorporated into the National Cycle Network.
The roar of traffic from the four-lane Foyle Bridge becomes a distant muffle seemingly at the flick of a switch as you round the corner, replaced by the peace and tranquillity of birdsong.
A peak of the river is visible through woodland before revealing itself in all its glory with farms and fields beyond in the Donegal hinterland.
Designed with accessibility in mind
While Derry is renowned for its steep streets, the Strathfoyle Greenway, for the most part, is relatively flat and the width and surface of the path make it accessible for all.
It’s something of a victim of its own success as it gets very busy on weekends but on a midweek mid-afternoon, it’s quiet enough to take a pace as quickly or slowly as desired.
It also has lighting which means it will be usable during the dark winter days as well as the brighter months.
It’s quickly become a popular choice for led rides and e-bike trials with our team in the North West, being perfectly placed beside our local base at the city’s train station, allowing visitors to immediately access the greenway without having to travel through on-road traffic.
Greenway a welcome addition
The £2.64 million Strathfoyle Greenway has been developed by Derry City and Strabane District Council in partnership with the Department of Communities, Department for Infrastructure and Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
The opening of another greenway is a very welcome addition to the Derry City area but it still lags behind its UK and Irish counterparts in terms of on-road cycle infrastructure.
The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Patricia Logue, officially opens the Strathfoyle Greenway with local residents, schoolchildren and funders in attendance. Image courtesy of Derry City and Strabane District Council.
Greater connectivity to improve the lives of all
It would be great to see better connectivity between the city’s greenways and all residential developments in the urban area in the future.
Many people living in other parts of the city would like to be able to choose active transport like those in Strathfoyle who can now walk, wheel or cycle into the city centre for shopping, work or social life. Hundreds of local children will now be able to travel actively and independently to the school situated along the Strathfoyle Greenway.
While greenways are good for leisure activities, they have the greater power to transform a city by encouraging people to walk or cycle short essential journeys which not only reduces traffic but ultimately improves the lives of all residents.