A pensioner who used to walk from Enagh Lough, over the hill to the Foyle, and up along the river to visit his granny in the old ‘Railway Cottage,’ which was situated close to where the Foyle Bridge spans today, when he was a boy, has lamented the increasing inaccessibility of the waterway to local people.
Jim Boyle, who is now aged 80, and has walked and fished the river a lifetime, says consideration should be given towards providing some form of public crossing of both the Derry to Belfast railway line and the proposed new Waterside to Strathfoyle greenway, which he fears will further detach Derry from the river.
Mr. Boyle, from Beechwood Park, said there’s now no way a citizen can legally get down to the banks of the river for an 11-kilometre stretch from Derry to the ‘Lough End’ in Donnybrewer.
“It’s like a jail out here,” complained Mr. Boyle.
“From here to Derry, you can’t even get near the water.
“We’d like access. We did have some access down here at the port, that used to take you across the railway line, but they closed it for some reason.
“I used to walk from Enagh Lough, where we lived then, up through the fields and we walked up to the granny’s [house]. I’ve been walking it 70-odd years.”
“Our boys fished all their lives there and I fished myself. These last several years you now have to have the Loughs Agency licence, but before that you would have had young fellas always fishing the river. But we no longer have any access at all and the fencing is like being inside a prison yard.”
While the Derry to Coleraine railway line is punctuated by numerous unmanned rail crossings, these are normally situated on private land.
Translink said: “There are no public crossings on the section of railway line between Foyle Bridge and Lisahally.
“Provision of tunnels or bridges to promote access to a public amenity would be outside of Translink’s remit.”
This has frustrated Mr. Boyle, who said: “It’s closed now from Derry to what we call the Lough End, down where the old Station Bar used to be. It’s ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, the Strathfoyle section of the greenway has yet to be completed but Mr. Boyle has suggested it might have taken a different route.
“There’s actually a walk from Gransha that would take you a far more scenic route, around all the graveyards, all the history of Enagh Lough, a beautiful walk, but for some reason you have this walk and it’s going to cost a fortune to take it where they are taking it to see nothing.”