A £1.29m pound investment by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme is encouraging locals to ‘Explore a New View’ as four Ulster river towns, three of which are in Northern Ireland, are now open for business thanks to the new Fresh Waters campaign.
The investment from the INTERREG IVA Programme, which was granted in 2012 and named the RIVER Project, has been invested by The North East Partnership (NEP), in regenerating parts of the Lower Bann, the River Erne and their neighbouring towns opening up a whole new tourism sector for locals and tourists to enjoy.
Rivers, streams and fresh water areas in and around Portglenone Marina, Drumaheglis, Belturbet and Kilrea have received a cash injection to allow the public and visitors to the province to step off the beaten track and revel in a tourism attraction that has previously been closed for business or otherwise awaiting regeneration.
Fresh Waters will open up camping opportunities, walking trails and cycling routes amid a backdrop of some of Ulster’s most stunning waterways, taking visitors inland to appreciate the natural landscape carved out by rivers, lakes and streams.
Benefitting from the project, which was two years in the making, Portglenone Marina gained a new jetty offering an additional 13 berths, with additional NITB funding providing new facilities for walkers, cyclists and families alike; whilst a new multi-purpose building at Drumaheglis complements the scenic waterway. Meanwhile at Belturbet, County Cavan, the installation of a replacement jetty, new carparking and the installation of new outdoor Adult Fitness Equipment will make the River Erne much more accessible to those who want to savour the natural flow of Ulster’s waterways.
Kilrea town is also benefitting from the investment. Locals and visitors will be able to enjoy a new cycle path, along with a newly enhanced riverside area. Upgrades include new lighting, paving and landscaping.
Alongside these capital investments, the Community Rescue Service (CRS), a charitable and voluntary-based organisation, has welcomed investment. CRS’ water search and rescue service makes it an integral partner to the Fresh Waters campaign. Its lifesaving service means that the massive investment opening up the waterways can be enjoyed safely by the general public and tourists alike.
The funding from the River Project ensured that CRS were able to purchase 16 radios for their search and rescue operations and there is also a small amount of project funding available to increase the number of volunteers trained in water-rescue.
It is hoped that the Fresh Waters Campaign will strengthen Northern Ireland’s already rich geological offering and promote it as a tourism destination that boasts a host of natural diversity.
Anne Artt, RIVER Project Manager at the North East Partnership, said, “We are delighted to be launching this new initiative encouraging people to take a closer look at the spectacular rivers we have, and the towns that surround them. Rivers are of immense importance geologically, biologically, historically and culturally. Their powerful forces create majestic scenery; they provide travel routes for exploration, commerce and recreation. We hope that following this major investment, local people and tourists gain a better insight into the beauty of the Lower Bann and Erne rivers, and the added attractions they bring to the towns through walks, cycle routes, camping sites, canoeing, boating and fishing, to name but few.