The research investigated the patterns of use on two long-distance walking routes in the Republic of Ireland. Surveys were conducted on the Burren Way in County Clare and the East Munster Way in Counties Tipperary and Waterford. GIS-based mapping was used, in conjunction with participative mapping techniques which took place during focus group sessions and the paper concentrates on this aspect of the research. Focus group participants were voluntary members of the walking routes’ management committees. The process of participation and the data gathered for the GIS is outlined. The study presents a GIS developed in the context of natural resource management with the inputs of the voluntary management committee’s local knowledge. It also offers a consideration of visitor behaviour and preferences in relation to landscape character and rural tourism.\ud \ud Further data collection took the form of user questionnaire surveys, surveys of local accommodation providers, and online surveys of visual preferences. While all of the data collection methods, when used alone, have their drawbacks, the combination of various methods produced an interdisciplinary and wide-ranging picture of the patterns of use of the two routes, based on user behaviour and preferences and on the behaviour of local walkers and the route management committee. As well as providing a “snapshot in time” view of route usage, the information collected during research was used for future planning and management. It was used to identify possible diversions and improvements to the existing route, as a means of predicting where walkers would prefer to walk, while also attempting to protect the local environment by diverting walkers away from the most fragile environments
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