Fine Winter’s day

Day 90

This was a quick lunchtime walk on a fabulous brisk winter’s day. The sky was beautifully clear but it wasn’t terribly warm.


It was mostly just a quick scarper round the forest and annoying I had to keep the dogs on the lead due to the work still going on up there. So I didn’t get a chance to take many pictures until nearly then end.


This is the remains of what once would have been quite a fine farmhouse in its day. There isn’t a lot left of this but there are still fine stone lintels and bits of corrugated iron left.


Just down the path from here, the place is quite flooded.


There are pretty much no leaves left on tress now.


Splashes of Colour

Day 89

Yet another Saturday walk although I did have a bit of company today. Still the logging goes on – they have actually cleared rather a large swathe of forest by now but they aren’t working today.



There are still splashes of colour about the place between holly and this rosehip bush.


If you go a bit further up some gorse bushes have burst into flower. These seem to be flowering pretty much all year round at the moment although they hit a peak in the spring.


Another Miserable Wet Day

Day 88

It was another miserable wet day so I didn’t bother bringing the camera as it was just too difficult to keep it dry. Hence the rather boring phone photograph.

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The forestry people are still hard at it but again they didn’t bother me apart from making me keep the dogs on leads. I made really good time due to trying not to get too wet. I was on a deadline as it was a lunchtime walk on a break from work

Family Walk

Day 87

I’m writing this quite a while after the walk due to general laziness. The log-cutting is still going on although they are quite today because of it being a Saturday. Anyway, they have got quite a pile going.


They still haven’t impinged on anywhere I’m walking so I can still safely ignore them. The mushrooms are still soldiering on.


There is not a lot else to report really. We had a nice walk around the forest and didn’t get too wet


Finishing Early

M50 to Hazelhatch

After passing the M50, I quickly got the sense of leaving the city behind. But not before passing this odd little setup. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be advertising this guy’s business or if it serves some other purpose.


Anyway, I quickly came to Clondalkin where I nipped into a garage to get myself something cold to drink – I was getting a bit bored of water. This would have been an ideal spot to stop for a bit of lunch and there was a pub there that would probably have done at least a toasty for a spot of lunch.

After this interruption I continued on towards Hazelhatch but it was becoming fairly apparent that I wasn’t going to make it to Sallins which was always going to be a bit of a stretch at 46 km.


At the next lock, there was the first of these odd-looking lock-houses. This was part of the stretch of canal built by Thomas Omer and he must have had rather grand plans for the locks as these are very substantial particular in comparison to the equivalent cottages on the Royal Canal. These would have been very large for a lock-keeper in the day so perhaps the ground floor was used for some commercial purpose such as toll-collecting.


The going was still good with a well-made path along the canal and there were still quite a few people out walking and cycling although perhaps not as many as before.


The bridge ahead turned out to be a pedestrian bridge and there was a greed route signposted to cross it. I didn’t bother and just stuck to the tow-path.


At the 13th lock, there were a few mill buildings. The lock-house was a couple of hundred metres up the canal which struck me as a little odd. The Royal lock-keeper cottages are normally right by the lock – maybe this was a lesson learned.


From here on, the going got significantly worse. Due to the very heavy recent rainfall, the canal was very full and the banks weren’t in terribly good condition. So there was quite a bit of flooding on the path and in places there was water flowing from the canal into surrounding fields.


I came across this interesting old bridge in the middle of nowhere. Probably this was someplace that had become depopulated over the years and the bridge was only used by one or two farmers nowadays.


Yes another of the strange lock-houses and this one is in particularly bad condition. It is odd that all of the lock-houses are derelict and in such bad condition. The equivalents on the Royal seem to be very much still in use.


This is an overflow stream from the canal and the water was fairly roaring down it.


At this stage, it was well past 2:30 and there was no way I was going to make another 13 kilometres to Sallins before dark. In any case, I had kind of had enough of walking with a tally of 33 kilometres for the day so I decided enough was enough at Hazelhatch.


There was a lovely looking pub there but I didn’t partake due to having a train to catch and I would have to drive home from the station at the other end so I headed for the railway station which was about half a kilometer up the road on the right-hand side of the canal.

Sure isn’t it Grand

Grand Canal Basin to City West

I was straight into the next section of the walk which involved making a start on the Grand canal. This is the older of the two main midland canals in Ireland and was started in 1756. It now connects Dublin and the Shannon and is purely a recreational facility nowadays.


The start of the canal is a rather large basin that originally started out as a reservoir for the city. It must have once been a hive of activity for the transfer of cargo between ships and canal boats and there were once several large mills on the basin. Nowadays, it is mostly decorative. I used to divemaster for a diving school based on a ship in the basin and have dived it numerous times. It isn’t exactly interesting – it is about 5 metres deep but serves as a useful step between the swimming pool and the open water for trainees.


This whole area has been completely redeveloped over the last 10 years and used to be the main gasworks for the city. Although much of it was empty during the worst of the recession, the area is coming to life now and should become an important part of city life over the next few years.


This is the a new theatre on the basin and is one of the main draws to the area. It is all looking rather fabulous on this beautiful morning. It feels like mitching school since there is nobody around – everyone is at work on this fine Friday morning.


This is the Naomh Eanna – the ship that used to be a dive shop. She spent 30 years as the Arran Islands ferry before spending roughly as long again tied up in the basin and home to a dive shop and a surf shop. She’s seen better days but there are moves afoot to move her to Galway and set up as a hostel. It will be interesting to see what happens.


Here’s another view of the Naomh Eanna with the Poolbeg Chimneys behind them. These are another piece of endangered industrial heritage as the power station is no longer operational so they are currently surplus to requirements.


Anyway, back to my walk. I quickly left the basin behind and came across a nice market that was setting up on the canal bank just past the first bridge. Unfortunately I forgot to take any pictures, so you’ll have to take my word for it.


As I crossed the bridge you can see Landsdowne Road stadium as a backdrop to the traffic jams. I know the next section of the canal pretty well as I spent quite a few years living in this part of the city and so used to walk it quite regularly. It is a fantastic linear part through the south city centre.


I quickly passed Baggot Street which was somewhat of a writers’ haunt in the past. There are benches dedicated to Percy French and Paddy Kavanagh which look pretty nice once you sweep the empty beer cans off them.



I continue on towards Portabello and pass under the Luas (tram) bridge near Ranelagh.



This is a real leafy part of the city and the canal is a fantastic amenity of those who live and work here.


Just after passing Latouch Bridge (Portabello), I take a coffee break – my first of the day. Notice the odd lock numbering. The prefix is because this part of the canal was originally a branch to the main canal which ended up near the Guinness Brewery. The branch was built around 1795 and is called the Circular line (hence Lock C7).

At this point I sort of stopped faffing about with the camera and started trying to make some distance. For the next 7 or 8 kilometers, the canal passes through some roughish areas like Dolphin’s Barn, Rialto and Ballyfermot. While these areas have become a lot quieter over the last few years, it would probably still be unwise to walk through them in hiking gear waving a camera about in the late afternoon or evening.


Nevertheless, the canal banks are still well-maintained and litter free and is a very pleasant walk. Despite spending 15 years of my life living in and around the city, I’ve never walked this area so it  interesting to explore some relatively familiar areas from a different perspective. This is often the case when walking the canal. You’ll see somewhere from an angle you’ve never seen before and you might never even have realised the canal was there.


After another couple of kilometers I come upon Suir Road Luas stop which is where the Circular Line joined the main line.


The bridges in this part of the canal are interesting. On the Royal almost all the bridges cross the canal square on but most of the bridges on the Circular line cross at angles. This was more expensive at the time but must have been a condition of getting the licence to build the line in what even then would have been expensive suburban villages near the city.


This is a view down the old main line. This was filled in during the mid 70s although I think the basin survived a lot longer. The alignment is now used for the Luas tram-line.


This is lock 1 proper on the main line. At this stage I was coming up on the 20km mark for the day. The tram-line follows the canal for a couple of kilometres at this point but we soon leave it behind.

The weather was holding out nicely as I passed into Ballyfermot. The scenery around here is quite industrial with a lot of pylons and substations about.


I stopped for a rest near the City West complex which is a rather large office development and industrial park on the western edge of the city. They have a rather cool sculpture thing that you can see from the motorway but again this is a new perspective on it for me.


Shortly afterwards we come to the M50 – the main orbital motorway around the system and it crosses over the canal. Given that this is the natural edge of the city, this seems a natural point to break this post.


Finishing off the Royal Canal

Ashtown to the City Centre

I had managed to set aside a day for walking so the plan for today was to finish off the 10 km or so of the Royal Canal that remained after the end of the official way and make a start on the Grand. This was to be quite an interesting route across the city which involved walking through some of the slightly less salubrious areas of the city.

I got off the train at Ashtown at about 8 am which is probably about the test time to make a pass through Broombridge. It certainly wouldn’t recommend doing so while carrying a camera or any other obvious valuables of an afternoon or much after 11 am on a weekend morning as it is an area of deserted ground that does tend to attract some of the rougher elements of society.

Ashtown has one of the better areas of development done during the boom and has a fantastic urban village feel with high density apartments over shops really close to a train station. With the canal nearby for walks it looks like a really nice part of the city.


I settled into the walk and started towards the city. It was barely after dawn at this stage and the sun was very low on the horizon which somewhat complicated taking pictures. This is the view from the bridge over the canal at Ashtown just past Lock 10.


The canal was quite straight here and there was a general sense of bustle about the canal with people cycling or walking to work and others walking their kids to school. It was easily the busiest stretch of the canal for walking that I had come across so far. After a couple of km, I came towards Reilly’s bridge which is currently being replaced by a massive steel bridge that will cross both the canal and the railway and help clear up massive local congestion caused by the level crossing.


A few hundred metres past this we come across Broombridge. This is one of the typical lob-sided humpback bridges that was obviously extended from the original canal bridges to cross the railway as well. It is named after a William Broome, a director of the Royal Canal Company – most of the canal bridges are named after either directors or investors.


But it is much more famous as the place where Sir WIlliam Rowan Hamilton came up with the formula for quaternions while walking to Dunsink observatory. He supposed write the formula on the bridge.


Nowadays the graffiti is considerably less inspirational but the area is probably on the way up. The station got a bit of a tidy up recently and doesn’t seem to have been wrecked yet. The waste ground next to the station is slated to become a tram yard which should bring the area back to life.


After Broombridge station, we pass on old water tower for filling steam engines and pass under a very low bridge into an area that is surrounded by railways. It is a curious area of land with no development at all aside from a massive old factory that has been deserted for as long as I’ve been taking the train.

There is some disruption on the railway this morning due to flooding and the trains are being routed into the city on a little use alternate route. The reason why becomes obvious as we cross-over the rail link between the two major city stations.

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This is really quite a strange part of the city. We are only about 3km from the city centre as the crow flies but from what you can see, you may as well be in open countryside.


As I plod on, I catch sight of the Poolbeg power-station chimneys through a gap in the hedge


This wild stretch lasts for about a kilometer until we arrive in towards Phibsboro. There is a bit of a basin here with some old warehouses – some of which have been converted to apartments


Just past this point is where the canal originally turned to the right and would have terminated at Broadstone. But early in the canal’s history they dug a branch down towards the docks and built a new basin at Guild street to make it easier to transfer cargo to sea-going ships. The original line was filled in when they started building the railway and a lot of the land was taken up with Broadstone station which in turn closed and became a bus depot.


So from Phibsboro, it was a quick walk in to Binns Bridge in Drumcondra but here I came to my first diversion and had to head off towards town. But I got back on the canal quickly enough near Croke Park.

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I made it for about another kilometre until I came to the North Strand and here I was definitely at an end without making a rather large detour. The canal is blocked here by a lifting railway bridge that heads into Connolly station by way to Newcomen curve. This section of railway is rarely used but was in heavy use today due to the flooding.


Obviously with all the railway tracks, it isn’t safe to walk near here, even if you could get in so I turned off and headed directly for the Liffey so that I could cross over and get to the Grand Canal basin for the next section of walk. I passed a Dublin bikes stand at the pedestrian bridge and was sorely tempted to take an hour off my walk by cycling up the canal to Portobello.


It has turned into a fabulous sunny morning and the views over the Liffey are fantastic.


After crossing the river, I paused to take a quick shot of the Jeanie Johnson which is looking rather fabulous in her new coat of paint.


I couldn’t ignore what as become the most photographed bridge in Dublin


I’m almost at the end of this section with about 12 km walked so far today. At this part of the Liffey there are a lovely old buildings which were originally built as shipping line offices. They obviously used their commercial rivalry to try to outdo each other in the ornamentation of their buildings.


Finally, I am nearing the basin and turn right onto this rather different modern urban canyon.


When I get to the end of this street, that will mark the end of my first section of walk as I arrive onto the Grand Canal basin which is the first part of the Grand Canal walk.

Not Alone

Day 86

Although it was absolutely pouring with rain, I needed to get out for a lunchtime loop. I didn’t bother bringing the camera as it was basically too wet to be able to keep it dry. So I just made do with my phone. On the walk up, it became obvious why somebody had cleared an entrance and graveled some land on the edge of the forest as there was machinery in there taking out some wood.

I ignored them as I went past and decided to just continue on with the walk so long as there were no signs up saying not to enter. As I got to the top, I took this quick shot just so as to have a photo to accompany the post

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I was expecting a no entry sign when I crossed the road into the other side of the forest, but there was nothing so I continued on. I kept the dogs on the lead though, as I figured if I was going to have a row with a forestry working it might be better if one of the dogs hadn’t bitten him.

Anyway, I neither saw nor heard any evidence of the work as I went around. Hopefully they won’t be around long enough to cramp my style as I’d rather be able to let the dogs off.

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Saturday Afternoon

Day 85

Got out again for a quick loop in the afternoon. I even had company which was the first time since my ramble with my friend on a dream quest. Not a lot out of the ordinary to report really – we had a dry couple of hours in the afternoon after a couple of solid days’ rain.


There wasn’t really a lot going on – just a quick walk really. This is quite a nice part of the walk just before we leave the main track for the short-cut home.


You can see here how much water has accumulated over the last couple of weeks. This ditch was pretty much bone dry two weeks ago


Water Water Everywhere

Day 84

After a week off walking due to being away I got back out for a quick loop at lunchtime. There had been a lot of rain over the week and the place is rightly saturated. I am currently rethinking the wisdom of my cheap Hi-Tec books which are leaking badly although they are wearing well. Still, I’m only getting about half way round with dry feet.


Still, you’re not going to get away with trudging through this with dry feet unless wearing wellies and/or Gore-Tex.

The streams are coming alive now and there is a general sense of water cascading down the side of the mountain. When it gets really bad, you can go through places where it is like a lake flowing down the hill.


Anyway, I got a nice walk in and for once managed to stay dry.