The Bluestack Way (Irish: Bealach na gCruach) is a long-distance trail through the Bluestack Mountains in County Donegal, Ireland. It is 65 kilometres (40 miles) long and begins in Donegal and ends in Ardara. It is typically completed in three days. It is designated as a National Waymarked Trail by the National Trails Office of the Irish Sports Council and is managed by the Bluestack Way Management Committee.
The trail was first proposed by a local environmental group, the Bluestack Environmental Group, and was opened in 2000. It was partly funded by the EU Peace and Reconciliation Fund and construction was carried out by workers on a FÁS Community Employment Scheme. A review of the National Waymarked Trails in 2010 considered that the trail was suitable to be upgraded to a National Long Distance Trail, a proposed new standard of trail in Ireland intended to meet international standards for outstanding trails, and also recommended that the development of looped walks off the main route should be considered.
Starting in Donegal Town, the trail heads north to reach Lough Eske before crossing the Bluestack Mountains to the village of Glenties. From Glenties, it follows the course of the Owenea River to the end of the trail at Ardara.
The Bluestack Way is proposed to be included in the Irish leg of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT), an extension of the Appalachian Trail through Canada to Newfoundland, to all terrain that formed part of the Appalachian Mountains of Pangaea, including Ireland.
|Length||65 km (40 mi)|
|Location||County Donegal, Ireland|
|Designation||National Waymarked Trail|
|Trailheads||County Donegal, Ardara|
|Elevation gain/loss||+1,230 m (4,035 ft)|
|Surface||Bog roads, moorland, tarmac roads|
These are lists of long-distance trails in Ireland, and include recognised and maintained walking trails, pilgrim trails, cycling greenways, boardwalk-mountain trails, and interconnected national and international trail systems. Access is noted as the greatest obstacle to developing trails as Ireland has weak supporting legislation.
There are 43 National Waymarked Trails by the National Trails Office of the Irish Sports Council. Each trail is waymarked with square black posts containing an image, in yellow, of a walking man and a directional arrow, a symbol reserved for use only by National Waymarked Trails. The oldest trail is the Wicklow Way, which was opened in 1980, and there are now over 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) of waymarked trails Ireland. The most frequented trails are the Wicklow, Sheep's Head, Kerry, Dingle, Beara, Burren and Western Ways. The standard of many of these trails are below international comparison, with access noted as the greatest obstacle.
In 1997, the Heritage Council, started developing a series of walking routes based on medieval pilgrimage paths, and there are now 124 kilometres (77 miles) of major penitential trails: Cnoc na dTobar, Cosán na Naomh, St. Finbarr's Pilgrim Path, Saint Kevin's Way, and Tochar Phádraig. These pilgrim trails, and seven others, are supported by Pilgrim Paths of Ireland who follow the same guidelines for developing National Waymarked Trails.
In 2017, the 46-kilometre Waterford Greenway was opened for cyclists, and many others are planned or in development. Many of the National Waymarked Trails form part of larger long-distance and transnational trails such as European walking route E8, the Beara-Breifne Way and the International Appalachian Trail.
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