Frequently Asked Questions for Blueways





What is a Blueway?


‘An all island network of approved and branded multi-activity recreational trails and sites, based on and closely linked with the water, together with providers facilitating access to activities and experiences.’

In practice a  Blueway is an area with a river, lake or sea shore at its core on which you can take part in kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddling, sailing or other water activities. Equally importantly you can also go walking on trails nearby, or cycling and there are activity providers who can introduce you to some of these activities. 


Who is the Blueway for?

Mainly the novice or ‘Dabbler’. 

Individuals, families or groups with limited experience of the outdoors and in particular water sports, but they have a desire to do more and want to go to the places where they can safely enjoy these activities in beautiful settings.


What does the Blueway need to have for the visitor to the area.

In addition to providing trails (water trails and ideally land trails also), the Blueway must have the option of a ‘provided’ water experience.  It must be possible for the visitor to the Blueway to book an instructor and hire equipment so that they can ‘dabble’ safely on the water without having to buy equipment. 

This provided experience must be available during the peak and shoulder tourism period and may require booking a number of days in advance. 

The Blueway should also integrate local heritage, culture, arts, accommodation and dining experiences in the area so that the visitor is encouraged to stay and support the local economy. 


What does the Blueway need to have for residents.

The Blueway must open up the river to locals as a viable recreation venue.  Hence, there must be a regular opportunity (at least two open occasions per annum), for local people to dabble in water activities through organised ‘come and try it’ events, sport club activities or other similar ‘animation’ events. 

Ideally these opportunities will lead to the increased recreation use of the water area by residents.


What level of challenge should a Blueway have?

As a Blueway targets novices, the level of challenge should be low. 

should be no significant or hidden difficulties in the Blueway.  For example rapids on rivers are not typically included in Blueways, and while a surf beach can be part of a Blueway a beach exposed to offshore winds, a very rocky shoreline, strong tidal areas are not typically part of a Blueway.  


Is a Blueway just about water activities?


No land activities are equally important.  Cycling, and walking trails are important elements in a Blueway.  Also local heritage, art, craft and dining experiences are part of the wider ‘flavours’ of a Blueway.


Is a Blueway just about physical facilities?


Blueways are also about giving people a sense of a place.  Its history, its settings, panoramas and its social heritage.


Can any place be a Blueway or use the term ‘Blueway’?

Only locations on the island of Ireland which are accredited by the Blueway Partnership at either stage 1 or 2 can use the Blueway brand.


How do you start to set up a Blueway, what is the sequence and who is involved?

You need to have a location  with the potential to meet the Blueway criteria and a development group to make this happen and to complete the two stage accreditation process. 

Download and read the Blueway Management and Development Guide, see

Once you are familiar with the requirements you should source a copy of the Stage one Accreditation form on this website and make contact with the Blueway Partnership if you require additional clarification.


Where can you get advice on establishing a Blueway and in completing the accreditation process?

Go to the Blueway website:

Contact details for Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland are available at this site.



How do you select and include land and water trails.


Identify appropriate water and land sites on a map or based on your knowledge of the area.

Make sure that you have the right to access any land or water site and do so safely.  You must engage with the landowners before you identify the proposed Blueway publicly and before you go onto this land.

Clarify if the locations are practical, are they accessible for the general public, are they safe, are there risks of getting lost?

The proposed location does not have to be perfect, part of the Blueway development process may include improving or creating new trails, erecting signage, creating parking areas and so on.  

Engage early with the Local Authority/County Council as they or an organisation with appropriate resources are required to ensure the sustainability of the Blueway.

Make sure that the community are on-board early and throughout the process.  The host community should benefit from the Blueway’s outdoor recreation resources and any economic boost from Blueway tourism.

Work through the supporting materials and the accreditation application to identify the various other steps you need to take.


How do I engage with the communities and stakeholders?


This can happen at different levels depending on the scale of the Blueway and the community.  As a minimum there should be an awareness locally that a Blueway is being considered and the community should have the opportunity to discuss and comment o n the proposal. 

Working with an existing community group is often a good start.

In addition to private landowners, there can be many stakeholders, for example Waterways Ireland, Coillte, the National Parks and Wildlife service, the Local Authority Waters Programme and so on.  Approached the relevant group early I the process and these groups will advise you if they have any contributions to make regarding the project.

Also contact the relevant sports National Governing Body such as Mountaineering Ireland, Sailing Ireland or Canoeing Ireland for their advice.


Are there deadlines in developing a Blueway?


Each Blueway will develop at its own pace and there are no specific commencement or completion deadlines.

Ideally a new Blueway should be launched in spring or summer.


Can a Blueway be commercial?


It must be possible to use the Blueway without having to pay for access.  However, the Blueway site should also support the local economy so commercial activity providers, bike hire, restaurants, guides and so on are valuable parts of a Blueway.


Who promotes the Blueway?


Each Blueway location should have local promotional material and an online presence. 

A national Blueway online facility is under consideration and accredited Blueways will be included in this when it is developed.


Are Blueways seasonal?


As Blueways target the novice participant and provide low levels of outdoor recreation challenge, they will be busiest in periods of sustained good weather and in particular In late spring and summer. 

However, some Blueway locations may be sufficiently sheltered so that they are available for use in other seasons.

Download Frequently Asked Questions List