President Michael D. Higgins today performed the official opening of ‘Beyond the Trees Avondale’, a spectacular new visitor experience developed in partnership between Coillte, Fáilte Ireland and EAK Ireland in Avondale Forest Park in Co. Wicklow, combining a stunning 700 metre Treetop Walk with a 12 storey high Viewing Tower. Visitors to Beyond the Trees Avondale will experience the beauty of Avondale’s tree canopy on the Treetop Walk and enjoy incredible views of the beautiful Wicklow countryside from the spectacular Viewing Tower created for the project by EAK Ireland. The Beyond the Trees Avondale experience will be further enhanced in the Autumn when restoration work on Avondale House, the home of Charles Stewart Parnell, will be completed and the house will open to visitors.
Ireland’s newest visitor experience is a collaboration between Coillte, Fáilte Ireland and EAK Ireland, bringing a truly unique visitor experience to Ireland’s Ancient East that will delight young and old alike. This €19m project at Avondale is part of Coillte’s strategy to create more world-class visitor destinations and increase recreation spaces nationally and will encourage international and domestic visitors to stay longer and spend more in Wicklow and the wider Ireland’s Ancient East region, driving economic and employment opportunities for local communities. 60 new full and part-time jobs have been created to staff the site, the majority of whom are from the locality. Beyond the Trees Avondale expects to attract 200,000 to 250,000 visitors within a full year of opening.
Treetop Walk and Viewing Tower
Visitors arriving at Beyond the Trees Avondale will enter through the new Seed Café into the Walled Garden, which also houses a Coillte Pavilion, an immersive exhibition that tells the story of Coillte’s work in forestry, recreation, nature conservation and climate action. At the end of the Walled Garden, visitors enter the Treetop Walk and begin the journey on the elevated boardwalk, which is up to 23m above the forest floor at its highest point, making their way out over the Avonmore River valley. The surrounding forest habitat and the natural gradient of the land mean that although the Treetop Walk does not climb or descend more than a few degrees, you will see all of the different levels of trees from the forest floor to the canopy.
Visitors will pass through Avondale’s Forest Arboretum, a collection of the finest trees in Ireland, featuring 300-year-old trees planted by the estate’s founder, Samuel Hayes, and trees planted during the Great Tree Experiment when Avondale was a forestry experimentation station in the early 1900s. Forestry and wildlife facts are displayed in a fun, interactive way at various points along the Treetop Walk.