Canal Walk – Ballymahon to Lock 41

So, somewhat refreshed I set out westwards again although I was nearing the point where the canal turns north towards Clondra. The first feature I had to go under was an ugly modern bridge that takes the R392 over the canal. It is only over the last few years that the canal from this point onwards has been navigable. In a fit of madness in the 1970s, Longford county council decided to remove and/or replace 5 or 6 canal bridges and just run roads through the canal. This was the main stumbling block against getting the canal re-opened and was only properly resolved about five years ago.

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So this must have marked the old westward limit of the canal because I have childhood memories of having been in the line of the canal with my dad who was a keen botanist and there were lots of interesting things to be found in the marshy ground where the canal once was. The next bridge I came across, Archie’s bridge is burned into my memory for some reason as a place we used to come to walk as children. It is an absolutely standard piece of canal architecture yet like so much else about the canal it is a perfectly functional structure that does what it needs to do and nothing else.

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As the day was progressing the cowslips were finally beginning to open out. This specimen was particular awake on the bank at Archie’s bridge

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After Archie’s bridge and the lock at Mullawornia, the country started to turn a bit more interesting.

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While not quite as twisty as the section near Abbeyshrule, the line started meandering a bit to avoid the need for locks. The canal seemed to be cut into the side of hills quite a bit and I was treated to this vista of Drum lough

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At this point, the weather really was getting quite hot. I was beginning to get concerned about my supply of water as I had brought a total of 3 litres with me for the day and I had no idea as to where water was available. It is apparently possible to get water at each harbour but I’ve only ever managed to find the tap at Coolnahay near Mullingar.

After passing the R392 again through a rather elaborate built section of wall and modern bridge, I took another quick rest for a coffee and a few nuts

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I changed out my map as I had now walked off sheet 41 and did some estimates of what was remaining. Unfortunately I did manage to mess up somewhat and severely underestimated the distance remaining after Kenagh.

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I pushed on for a bit and came to one of these strange bridges which doesn’t seem to have a purpose. I went up on it to take a look and saw this farmer walking around a field staring at his feet. As I was whistling, he must have heard me and came down to have a chat. He had obviously also been on his own for the morning and felt the need to explain that he was trying to find out where his fertilizer had run out. We passed the time of day for about 20 minutes and he offered me some well water if I wanted to walk up a few hundred yards. However, heedful of the aforementioned slurry spreading, I politely declined. He did explain that the bridge had been built for farming and that the canal company had offered the local community (or more likely the gentry) £100 not to build the bridge but they had refused.

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Anyway, I pushed on for another few kilometers to Lock 41 which I decided was a nice spot for lunch so I took a break there to have a tuna sandwich and some coffee.

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