I had planned on a half-day’s walking over the Christmas break and due to it being a fantastic crisp winter’s morning, I got my act together and set off from Longford towards Clondra along the canal for a distance of almost 18km. As I was leaving the car I realised I’d forgotten my phone but no harm anyway.
It was fairly quiet around Longford, it being 9:45 on a Sunday morning. The icy conditions and low sunshine made for very scenic views but it was somewhat challenging for the camera.
This cat was looking at all the dogs out for a walk with a mixture of pity and disgust I reckon.
As I rounded the first bend, what water there was in the canal was frozen over and the ducks were walking across it. I suppose it’s better than bathing in almost freezing water.
A couple of dog-walkers having a nice little chat on near the first bridge.
At this point I was beginning to settle into the walk as I passed along the back of the various retail units. The path here is newly developed and has a good surface and excellent street-lighting. There area also lots of signs banning alcohol which are probably about as effective as the ones about keeping dogs on a lead and cleaning up after them.
After crossing the Athlone road, the canal gets properly out into the countryside and the frozen landscape looked fabulous. It wasn’t even beginning to thaw.
At this point, I was about half-way to the main-line which itself marks the half-way point of the journey. Despite being out of use for half a century, the remaining canal bridges are holding together pretty well.
The next few kilometers were much of the same really – walking quickly along a frozen path beside a frozen ditch. In some places, there are fairly substantial trees growing out of the canal bed.
Anyway, I got to the junction pretty quickly from here and it was looking fantastic. I stopped here for a bit and had some coffee and chocolate and a 5 minute rest.
Amazingly, the main line itself was frozen over in parts and when I poked it through with my stick, you could see it was 7 or 8 mm thick in places.
As I passed Kilashee I got to a spot where two swans had been overnight, and you could see the track where they been swimming through the ice.
From here on, I just put my head down to make some time and walked the next 4 or 5 k without pausing for much at all. I stopped for another cup of coffee by the lifting bridge a couple of kilometres out of Clondra.
From here on it was only about another 3 km and I quickly put paid to that. It was beginning to thaw a bit but there was still plenty of ice about. There is a lovely view of Sliabh Bán across the bog here.
It is nice to descend into Clondra from the 45th lock.
I ended up making pretty good time with the 18km completed in a little over 3 and a half hours. I didn’t have as big a load as usual which helped matters but it ended up being a morning very well spent.