Canal Walk – Lock 41 to Clondra

After I had eaten, I managed to refill my water bottle from the tap kindly provided by the people in the lock keeper’s cottage and pressed onwards. For some reason I came to the conclusion that I had only 10 km to go but on reviewing it later, I would think it was closer to 12 or 13. It was getting to be a bit of a slog as it really was getting quite hot and there was very little shade available.


Before long I can to Island bridge near Kenagh and followed the trail onwards. However, a few hundred metres up the line I came to an open gate with a building site notice posted on it across the way. I checked the map and decided that I had best back-track up to the bridge and go up the opposite bank. I thought that was a bit of a bad show on a waymarked route to just have it blocked by Waterways Ireland and have no detour posted but as it was a bank holiday weekend no harm was done and I guess it would have been different with workers around.


Anyway, I headed off down the other bank and soon came across some parked machinery so it was obviously a site as well even though there was no notice posted. I got past it all and eventually came to a fence at the other end that blocked the way and announced the bank closed. It was just as well I was going the direction I was as otherwise I would have had to figure out a detour on local roads but I can’t help wonder at the strange decision to close both banks with no notices posted.


By now I was starting to get really tired and was becoming quite a struggle The next feature of note was the abandoned Longford branch which meant I had about another 2 km to go to Killashee and another 9 or so overall.


After struggling for another 20 minutes or so I made it to Killashee and had a bit of a rest. I checked the map and figured I had another 7 km to go so another hour and a half should suffice. The rest of the walk was a bit of a blur – really open countryside with very little shade. There were a few interesting features as I approached the end of the line. This lifting road bridge was about 3 km from Clondra – again part of the legacy of Longford Council filling in the canal to make the roads a bit faster.


From here on was a bit of bogland and the first I saw of this was this interesting lifting narrow-gauge bog railway bridge. These narrow-gauge railways are by far the largest rail freight operation in Ireland and the total network is roughly the same length as the main Irish Rail network in the country.


The bog around here is mostly played out and there is much planning under way right now as to what to do next with these vast open spaces, many of which need to be continuously pumped to stop them from flooding. There is much opposition to plans to install large amounts of wind turbines for electricity generation but whatever happens will be preferable to the decades of abuse the land has received at the hands of commercial peat extraction.


This little railway left me with about 2 km to go and I was very relieved indeed when Clondra finally came into sight. The harbour was buzzing with people sitting on their boats and I would guess the pubs were regretting the loss of a fine day’s trading due to it being Good Friday.


The end of the line – Lock 46. This is the end of the Royal canal where it joins the river Camlin and proceeds by way of the Clondra canal to the Shannon. Note the local spelling of Clondra – for some reason the OS spell it Cloondara but as I’m from Longford, I’ll spell it properly. The village is named from the Irish, ‘Cluain Dá Rath’ which means ‘Meadow of the two ringforts’.


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