Vernon Mount Valley Woodland Walk.
Pic: G. Lehane, Grange Franfkield Partnership.
As a contribution to the ‘rolling out’ of the Tramore Valley Park Plan south of the N.40, GFP decided to undertake renewal works in derelict woodland to the east of the stream which tumbles down the hillside from the Grange Road close to Vernon Mount House. Featured in the attractive painting of a man drinking from a stream by Nathaniel Grogan, this wooded valley forms the eastern planted boundary of its former extensive demesne. The valley will also provide the corridor for a proposed cycle-cum-walkway route that will link the Grange Frankfield suburb to the park planned for the former city landfill to the north of the dividing N.40.
In a broader context, the wooded hillsides of the Grange-Frankfield area were at one time an extension of Carroll's Bog, prior to the introduction of the N.40 South Ring Road. The area was popularly known to previous adventurous generations of residents of the south city as Lanes Wood.
Important now as an area of local bio-diversity, the woodland is also a habitat for birds and bats, and a location that provides a welcome respite from adjacent suburbia. Together with its historical relevance, particular care has been taken to avail of expert ecological and arboricultural advice in regard to the works being undertaken in the woodland.
SECAD (South & East Cork Area Development), a Local Development Company that draws its support funding from EU and National programmes aimed at ‘bottom up’ local development and social inclusion, was approached to assist GFP’s objectives for the valley. Under its TÚS (literally, a ‘beginning’) Scheme, four operatives, generating the equivalent hours of two man-weeks per week, have been provided to the woodland project since its inception in August 2013. Of 12 months duration the project provides both top up employment to those currently relying on public welfare, and very beneficial assistance to the Partnership. GFP s also particularly grateful to the Amberley Residents’ Association, in whose estate this section of woodland constitutes part of its public open space and who provided the necessary public liability insurance cover required for the project.
From initial restoration of derelict woodland walks and removal of litter, the project has also seen the opening up of large sections of the stream through removal of invasive, occluding vegetation and a significant replanting of damaged woodland areas with indigenous tree species. GFP has also negotiated access to the wooded area to the west of the stream and has plans to seek a further 12 month extension from SECAD to undertake similar works there.
Ancillary to the project, GFP has, in its regular meetings with County Council officials, pressed for action by the local authority in securing access to the valley and wood directly from the Grange Road (presently access to the wood is indirect i.e. through Amberley housing estate) and in advancing plans for a proposed cycle-cum-pedestrian bridge crossing of the N.40. Considerable progress has been made to date, significantly the Council's purchase in May 2014 of a strategically situated field on the Grange Road, which will provide the necessary public access to the Vernon Mount Valley corridor.
Perhaps, a useful indicator of Cork County Council’s commitment to ‘Green’ modes of transport is the recent completion of another cycleway in a neighbouring woodland and valley area called the ‘Mangala’. Comparable in many ways it provides the model for a similar cycleway in the Vernon Mount Valley.
Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge the image: