There had been some fuss a couple of months ago about the opening of a walking path on the Longford branch of the canal which leads to a walk of about 17km from Longford to Clondra. It is typical of winding nature of the Royal canal that these towns are only actually about 8 km apart. We decided to start it out as a family walk and left a car in Killashee so that not everyone had to do the full 17km.
The walk starts innocuously enough a car-part that used to be Longford harbour but has since been through another life as a swimming pool. From there, you follow a sign heading east where there is still no sign of the canal until a couple of hundred metres after you pass under the railway.
You quickly come across the remains of the canal where there are nice walkways either side and you can settle into the walk. The canal itself is almost completely dry and full of various weeds but the general area is pretty clean and tidy.
The first bridge comes up quickly enough
Getting a bit further out of town, the bull-rushes are in fine form.
In a way similar to the loop around Mullingar, the canal loops around the town and heads out parallel to the Athlone road at the back of a row of half-used industrial units. The canal is so overgrown with willow trees here that you can’t even see across.
What is strange is that I’ve lived in the county for most of my life and never even noticed it. After about 5km, you emerge onto the Athlone road and in the first stumble of the new path, you have to cross a main road with no traffic calming or crossing.
Once safely across, it gets a lot wilder very quickly and while you can still see the branch, it is slowly fading into the countryside. I can remember when the main-line looked like this. Not far from the main road we came across a couple of old cars – a Hillman Humber and a Vauxhall Viva contributing to the general sense of decay.
There isn’t a lot else to report about the next couple of km. We made good time along it without a lot of distractions – there never were any locks on the branch. We came to the end of the branch after about 8 km and it was a welcome sight to see the canal in water.
There wasn’t a lot of life about – we saw a couple of cyclists but no other walkers or boats. We pushed on for most of another two kilometers where I said goodbye to my family as they all wussed out on pushing on to Clondra. I forgot to take a picture of the lock and bridge at Killashee but it will be in my previous post of this walk.
It is a couple of km out of Killashee to the next lock which is quite picturesque.
I won’t write a lot on the rest of the walk as I’ve already covered this stretch of canal but I’ll put up a couple of shots of stuff that has changed with the seasons. The most obvious change is that a lot of stuff is fruiting right now – here are some snow-berries
The elderberries are also not far from being ready – some of these days I will make some elderberry wine but it is a question of getting round to it.
Nearer to Clondra, there is some activity on the bog but I guess this won’t be going on for a lot longer
The bog railway stretches off into the distance.
Towards the end I saw a boat well behind me approaching but it was too far to get a shot of. Once I passed lock 45, there was no way they were catching me.
It wasn’t the fastest of walks due to having the children with us on the first half of the walk but it was very pleasant to arrive into Clondra after a 17km trek even if my feet were a bit sore from new boots.
Clondra was oddly quiet for a Saturday in August but perhaps it was about to get more lively as I left as a bus full of people for boat-hires was pulling in.