The Junction

I fancied a bit of a change for today’s walk and since I had to go into Longford, I took a ramble out to The Junction on the towpath of the long-defunct Longford Branch of the Royal Canal. A little over 5km out from where the N63 goes through the old canal line, you come across the point the Branch joins the canal’s main line.

The Junction was the single most important piece of infrastructure ever built in the county at the time and represented the last piece of an incredible £1.5 million investment in bringing the Royal Canal from Dublin to the Shannon and to Longford town. The 8km Branch took the canal right into a harbour at the back on Longford’s market square before it was filled in the 1960s to build a swimming pool which has since been demolished and replaced with a car-park.

The Branch opened in 1830 but had a very short career as the railway to Mullingar effectively ended the canal as a going concern in 1848. When it reached Longford in 1855 there was little need for the canal except for a few niche purposes such as beer which didn’t take well to being rattled about on the rails. The other main cargo was horse manure which Dublin produced in vast quantities and wasn’t cost effective to transport by rail.

Anyway, for the stretch I was walking there is little left but a deep ditch filled mostly with Birch and Willow trees. There is a good gravel paved path that could do with a little attention and it’s a perfectly flat walk for the 6km stretch I did – the branch took a bit of a winding route to avoid the costly expense of locks.

On To The Castle

Before the trail was built in the forest, I used to regularly walk out the road quite a bit further and my turning point was where I’d get a view of a ruined tower house from the road. I rarely go that far any more since I get my kilometres done in the forest, but it’s nice to go a little further sometimes.

It was really quite a horrible day for walking. We had that nasty midlands mist that isn’t quite rain and is invisible to both Apple Weather and Met Eireann’s radar. It still gives you a good soaking though. Still we got our walk done and clocked up another 12km for the years’s total.

Family Walk

Unusually we managed to all get out for a walk today on the last weekday of the school holidays. The route was the usual up and down through the forest on Ardagh mountain. I left everyone at the cross and did my few extra kilometres

I snapped a quick shot of this holly bush as amazingly it is still in berry this late in the season. In some cold autumns the berries will be all gone by late November but this year has been so incredibly mild that these berries have survived the onslaught of both birds and people collecting Christmas decorations.

Ended up doing 10km today.

A New Perspective

I did my normal lunchtime walk in the forest today but that’s not what I’m going to dwell on since I’ve done something I never did before. I’ve got a bit bored or running laps of the well-lit local football field at night so I decided for a change to strap on a head-torch and run the forest trail.

The route is about 2.4km each way so by adding a 200m road run to the route, I managed to get in a quick 5 run on top of my regular daily 10km walk.

The feeling of running in the dark with the head-torch projecting through the drizzle was quite eerie but really enjoyable as a change from the usual run. I’ll be adding this to my weekly exercise mix in future.

Another Year, another Walk

With unseasonably warm weather continuing, it was a lovely day to get out for the first walk of the new year. As is the pattern for the school holidays, I started out on the track with my daughter along with me and did the first 5km or so with company.

Once we got back to this cross, we parted company and I continued on with the dogs to get a bit more distance one. I’ve recently started listening to podcasts when I’m walking on my own and so I walked on with Neil deGrasse Tyson as somewhat esoteric company.

On my trip back down, I noticed that the whin bushes have started to flower already which is a couple of weeks early. I’m not surprised given that it’s been over 10 degrees celcius at night recently. It’s nice to see the very early signs of spring but we’ve still got a lot of winter to go.

I ended up getting a good walk in with my first 11km or so done fo the year.

Summer Berries

While the rest of Europe melts in 45 degree heat, we’ve managed to string together three or four days without rain and the temperature has got into the high 20s. Not that I’m complaining as it is lovely to get up into the forest at this time of the year. For some reason, this year we appear of have abundant bilberries and they are ripening a couple of week early. They are still not at their sweetest but they make for a nice nibble while walking the forest.

It’s also time again for the blackberry blossoms to come out.

There is so much up there at the moment – we are coming into the peak of summer and we get a few weeks where it’s possible to go for a walk without fleece and GoreTex jacket.

Snow Day

It’s been a mild winter so far so it was nice to get up to a blanket of snow over the landscape. With the new track, it was a lovely opportunity to take a slightly different walk. As it was the middle of the day it wasn’t remotely cold.

Although recently it’s been quite busy in the forest thanks to the new track, I had the place to myself for a change.

Still Walking

Although it’s been quite a while since I’ve updated this place, I’ve still been wandering the roads around the mountain and elsewhere although I’ve since broadened my activities to include running and cycling. I’ve even gone back to the passtime of my misspent youth and taking up scuba-diving again.

But, amongst this array of activities, Ardagh mountain has been a constant in my life. I still walk up there three or four times a year and I still find it an important part of my life. With a new year, I’m going to try to get back into the habit of posting here occasionally when I have something vaguely interesting to say.

Returning to Kilronan Mountain

I set off my fairly regular loop of Kilronan mountain from Keadue shortly before 9. There was an ominous looking cloud hanging over the mountain but I figured it would probably clear by the time it was up there and I had map and compass handy anyway.


By now I know this route pretty well and didn’t really have to bother with the map. I headed out of the village, turned left and started heading up the hill.


The route climbs sharply for the first three kilometres or so. First it’s on minor roads before switching to odd an old track. This takes you right past an old sweat house. Then you pass a cairn that was built to commemorate the  victory of a candidate in the 1918 general election.


Not far after here we split away from the miners’ way proper and the trick is to follow the red way-markers although they may change colour soon since there are a whole load of new waymarker posts installed. The route takes you towards and then pass a row of wind-turbines.


I had a quick stop for coffee and a banana at the end of the turbines and as it was getting quite windy, I put on my raincoat and gloves. After this welcome break, I headed on towards the abandoned mine.


From here it’s on to another short road section before going back to tracks and eventually going on animal tracks across the bogs. The mist had long cleared and the views from here were quite spectacular.


I was getting due another break so stopped at 10 km and had a rest against a peat hag to get out of the wind. This has this Devil’s matchstick in spore.


After my break, I passed this holy well which pretty much marked the highest point of the day and the end of the rough tracks. About 400m past this, I joined a rough old mountain road and started heading down.


There seems to be all sorts of interesting things in spore as I went down – there were loads of horsetails.


From here on, it was a fairly simple road walk and it was getting time for lunch. I headed on until I passed the 15 km mark and had lunch on a little bridge on a fairly busy regional road. Suitable refreshed, I headed on towards Ballyfarnon


From here I headed through the Kilronan castle estate and ended up back in Keadue 6 hours after I’d left it.


260 km

Lost Pony

It was a pretty normal lunchtime walk on a grey overcast Wednesday. My legs were still a bit tired after the weekend’s exertions but it was good to get out. There was a bit of excitement today as I came across a pony almost as soon as I entered the forest. The dogs were very excited about this and they whined and barked the whole way round which didn’t help as they just drove it further along the path. It finally managed to get past us just before we rejoined the road.

2016-03-23 13.06.19

235 km