Tag Archives: royalcanal

Another Day on the Canal

I set off for a late start without really having much of a plan for the day. I had originally planned on parking the car somewhere and doing 20 km or so out and back from the car but when I was offered a lift, I took the opportunity to just do a one-way. The objective was only really to get out and try to improve my fitness a bit.


So I set off eastbound from the rather unimpressive Fowlard’s bridge where the N55 crosses the canal with a lightly loaded pack at around 12. I didn’t bother bringing lunch as I figured I’d only be out walking for three or four hours.


So heading onwards, I quickly came to a slightly prettier bridge – there are a few more normal canal bridges between Fowlard’s and Webb’s bridge in Abbeyshrule. This one, Guy’s bridge, is oddly situated right on a bend. The roads often curve at strange angles as one cost-cutting measure they used when building the canal was to always have the bridges cross at right angles. There are a few exceptions but for the most part, it is the road rather than the bridge that makes the adjustment.


Not a lot further on and Eithne, the River Inny starts her dance with the canal and both the canal and the Inny will weave around each other for the next few kilometers. I pushed onwards at a reasonable pace and make it to Abbeyshrule a bit more than an hour into my journey.


No rest for the wicked though and I resolved to continue at least as far as bog bridge. There was somebody doing touch-and-gos at the airfield but there wasn’t really anybody else about which was a bit unusual. You normally meet somebody out walking their dog around Abbeyshrule


I actually didn’t bother stopping at Bog Bridge as I didn’t really feel like it and so continued over the empty bog between Abbeyshrule and Ballynacarrigy. This is a very remote part of the canal and there can quite often be no sign of human activity at all. Today, I had only the aircraft from the airfield to keep me company.


Towards the end of this stretch I came across somebody trying to make it down the opposite bank which would be a bit of a hike. I stopped at the first lock near Emper for a quick coffee and a snack and then continued on.


I kept going through Ballynacarrigy with only a brief chat with a couple of walkers to see if the way was clear to the next lock as there were works under-way still. They said it was passable although a bit muddy. I found out about a kilometre later that I would need to go through a building site to continue on but as there was nobody about I decided that it was reasonably OK to continue.


This odd stand of trees becomes visible a couple kilometres to the east of Ballynacarrigy and is part of what looks from the survey map to be a quite a rich vein of ancient heritage in the area. As you continue on, there seems to be some sort of fort or something built on the hill .


At this stage, it was looking pretty sure that I would make Coolnahay and perhaps push on even further so I kept on moving. I quickly ran into another building site and a further set of signs that everyone seemed to be ignoring. They seem to be extending the greenway from Coolnahay a few kilometres westwards and there was a partially complete gravel surface that was quite nice to walk on. This continued on and off as far as Coolnahay.


There is amazing variation in the state of the lock-houses around here. Some of them have been refurbished and extended into beautiful little cottages while others have decayed to the point where they are barely visible. This one isn’t even the worst.


I reached Coolnahay around 5PM and figured I’d have about an hour left so stopped for a quick coffee and a bite of chocolate before continuing.  Coolnahay is a lovely little harbour.


At this point, I was starting to lose the light and so didn’t really bother too much with the camera. It was a case of just putting the head down and pushing on to complete the walk as I had only really planned on doing 20 km and was now well past the 25 km mark. This milestone was about 2 km short of Ballinea harbour and I had to use the flash to take a picture.


I arrived into Ballinea shortly after 6 and it was almost completely dark so I did’t manage a reasonable picture at all. It was a nice day’s walk and totted up to 28.5 km in a shade over 6 hours including a couple of 10 minute breaks so not too bad a day’s work.

170.5 km

Back on the Canal

I had planned to go on a more dramatic walk for the day but circumstances intervened so it was back to the canal. Anyway, there was a section at the end that I hadn’t yet walked towards Dublin, so I set off for Condra for a relatively late departure of 10:20 or so.

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It was a hard frosty morning and most of the canal was frozen but for all that it as a pleasant dry winter morning so was ideal weather for walking. I had forgotten my camera so was forced to revert to my phone for photographs. Anyway, it was a quick departure out of Clondra and there were quite a few other people out walking dogs, etc, although I didn’t see anyone geared up for a long haul.

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The landscape quickly turns to wide open bog which looks fairly desolate at this time of year. This doesn’t last for long after crossing the bog railway and we quickly come across the strange lifting load bridge on the Killashee road which strikes me as such an incredible waste for such a minor road. I supposed I’d think differently if I lived in Killashee.

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The weather remained fine for the duration of the walk but the frost never really left for the day and parts of the canal remained frozen over with a very thin layer of ice right until the end of my walk.

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I came across this lock-keepers cottage near Killashee which is beginning to look the worse of wear and will need a bit of tender loving care in the next few years.

After getting passing the bridge just outside Killashee I kept to the right bank as the good path on the left bank only allows you turn left and head up the branch. A sign at Killashee probably wouldn’t go amiss as it would lead to an unpleasant little 2 km backtrack if you got it wrong.

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This is about my fifth time passing this junction. The branch goes about 10km towards Longford but it is dry at the moment. There are no locks on the branch.

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Anyway, I moved onwards for another couple of kilometres before making a pitstop for coffee and Fruit & Nut bar. Suitably refreshed I push on towards Kenagh. There is a nice little harbour in Kenagh with picnic benches but for some reason my breaks weren’t aligned at all with sitting facilities today so I pushed on past without stopping.

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A few kilometres past Kenagh, the canal comes to what is one of its stranger features where it winds past Mullarwornia a few km outside Ballymahon. Amidst a quarry and on the side of the hill, the canal hugs contours for about 2 kilometres, desperately avoiding having to drop into the surrounding countryside which would have created a dip that would have made it impossible to feed the few locks on the Clondra side of the canal without resorting to pumps. This makes for rather fabulous views.

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I was still making good time but starting to feel the effects of a rather over-enthusiastic start where I covered the first 6 km in 62 minutes. I stopped for a quick late lunch of soup and cheese roll about 20 minutes after leaving Mullawornia behind.

From there it was a quick push to Brannigan harbour near Ballymahon and it’s oddly named Chaigneau bridge – named after a director of the canal company. Oddly enough the bridges in this part of the canal have much more mundane names that those closer to Dublin which are invariably named after directors and investors. So around here we have names like Archie’s bridge, Guy’s bridge & Molly Ward’s bridge.

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From Ballybrannigan, it was about 4 km more to my target for the day at the bridge near barry where the N55 crosses the canal but I ended pushing on another few kilometres as my lift wasn’t ready and it was too cold to stand around waiting. So I contented myself with the last of my coffee and Fruit & Nut and pushed on towards Molly Ward’s bridge.

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I was game enough to push on for Abbeyshrule but I was rapidly losing daylight and as my lift was ready,  I decided to call it quits just before Allnard’s bridge and left the canal to had towards the village of Taghshinney.

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I didn’t quite make it to Taghshinney so had to call it a day with an elapsed distance for the day of 31.5 km.


Stroll to Bog Bridge

We needed to all get out for a family walk with the days and rather than doing the forest loop, we set off for Bog Bridge from Abbeyshrule. I’ve written about this place a couple of times before as it is a very strange and imposing structure in the middle of nowhere.



Once we got past the airfield we pretty much had the place to ourselves so we let the older of our dogs off for a run. The ground was pretty frozen and everyone had a great time crashing through frozen puddles.


We had a grand brisk walk in the cold and managed to reach our objective. Not a bad little walk at 6km.


Royal Canal – Barry to Mullingar

I got a very early start from the N55 at Barry in the half-light just before 8 on a winter morning. To say the conditions weren’t promising is a bit of an understatement – it was absolutely pouring with rain, but the forecast was for it to clear by around 10 so I decided to get started.

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There was barely any light at the very start so I didn’t take any pictures until I came across the Inny about a mile into the walk. The canal follows the Inny for a few kilometres before crossing it at Abbeyshrule. I also didn’t take my camera out as it was just too wet to use it.


I quickly left Abbeyshrule behind and headed across the Whitworth aqueduct and on to Bog Bridge where I took a short break. By now the rain had turned to drizzle and the sky was brightening.


Bog bridge really is a strange structure. It is in middle of nowhere and isn’t on my survey map although it is on older maps. There is no clue whatsoever as to why it has been built as there is nothing but bog around.


Anyway, after a quick snack of coffee and Fruit & Nut bar, I was on my way again with a minimum of fuss. The rain finally stopped and it suddenly cleared to a fabulous winter morning. It was just a pity I was quite wet from the earlier downpour.


The stretch from Bog Bridge towards Ballynacarrigy must be about the most isolated place you can get to in the midlands. At this stage, I still hadn’t met anybody and it wasn’t looking likely I would.


The landscape around here seems to be quite historic according to the survey map and there are a lot of mounds and ringforts about. This one looks quite substantial.


Away in the distance there was a rather eye-catching stand of trees on a hill-top.


Anyway, I wasn’t long getting to Ballynacarrigy and it really was lovely weather by now. Although it was only 6 km since my previous brief stop, I decided to take advantage of the park bench and have a sup more coffee and some chocolate.


After that stop, I set out to push on towards Coolnahay where I was planning my lunch stop. However, the lock immediately after Ballynacarrigy had its sluices open and the next section was drained and accompanies with Canal Bank Closed signs. After a quick look at the map, I decided to push on as there wasn’t really an alternative route aside from the busy R393 road and there was no info as to whether the bank was closed 1 km or 10 km up the line and it was mostly public road.


So I pushed on for about 2 km until I came to a blockage. However since there was no work going on and there was ample evidence of dog-walkers, cyclists and even horse-riders having ignored the signs, I bypassed the fence and trudged through a few hundred metres of mud until I got to the next lock.


I’ve had this same experience last year near Kenagh and that time it was quite unnecessary really. It wouldn’t exactly be difficult for Waterways Ireland to post a diversion route for walkers and cyclists or to leave one bank open.


Anyway, rant over and back to the walking. There were more interesting views to the south over the Hill of Laragh and the Deerpark.


From here on it was a relatively uneventful few kilometres to Coolnahay where I could stop for lunch safe in the knowledge that the bulk of the walk was behind me. Coolnahay is a very active little spot with a tea-shop and it represents the western end of the Westmeath greenway which stretches from here all the way to the eastern border. It is a nice little spot for lunch.


Now I had about 12 more km to go – a quick 5 km stretch to Ballinea and about another 6 or 7 to Mullingar station. It had turned into an idyllic afternoon although it was a little cold and the lingering damp from my earlier soaking wasn’t helping matters.


Still the going was good and I wasn’t long about covering the distance to Ballinea. I hadn’t met anybody at all between Barry and Coolnahay but now I was coming across a cyclist or dog-walker every 5 minutes or so. It is interesting to see the effects of having a well-developed path in place.


Anyway, I arrived at Ballinea where the way changes sides on the canal for a kilometre or so. I stopped again for a quick coffee and nibble of chocolate and set off on the final stretch.


On crossing back over, the clearance work on the old Mullingar-Athlone MGWR railway line is looking good and it doesn’t look as if it will be long before it will be open.


It is a little odd to see the new path running alongside the existing canal greenway – they seem to run in parallel for about 3 km. Anyway, I continued on towards Mullingar. In the town itself, I come across this branch on the canal which isn’t on the map. It just looks to be a little dock area from aerial imagery.


Anyway, that’s about it for my walk. It was another couple of km to Mullingar station alongside the huge abandoned railyards. It is a pity that the greenway doesn’t seem to follow along this route. It would be quite cool to have the deserted Athlone side of the station refurbished as a terminus for the greenway.


The ruins of the old station yard are looking quite spectacular in the early evening light. It was a nice walk at just over 34km.


Of Frozen Canals & Forgotten Phones

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.


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.

Royal Canal – Ryewater to Ashtown

After I had fed and watered myself, I set off again, and quickly got through Confey station. Not long after that I came across the remains of the old Lucan North station which is now a private house but has the remains of a shelter on the up platform just about visible through the undergrowth.


From here on it was beginning to turn into my usual plod once I get beyond 30km. There was the odd train to punctuate my journey and these were starting to get a bit more frequent as the evening rush approached. I checked the timetable on my phone and figured that I had a very tight schedule to make the last train at Ashtown to connect with the 1705 Sligo train.


Amazingly for an area relatively close to the city, there was very little built up around the canal and railway. Perhaps this was something to do with the dividing line drawn by the canal and the comparative sparsity of bridges in the general area.


At Clonsilla, the canal swings away to the left of the railway and the relatively newly reopened Dunboyne branch crosses the canal on a modern overbridge.


The two runners stretching were appreciating and photographing the rather fabulous graffiti on the bridge. I had noticed the same artist must have been at work on a Waterways Ireland weed-trimmer a kilometre or so back.


The bridge was absolutely festooned.




A couple of hundred metres further on, there was a concrete anchor for a pipeline crossing the canal similarly decorated.



Shortly after this, we entered the deep cutting that runs for about three kilometres between Clonsilla and well past Carpenterstown. This was an stretch of rock that had to be blown through with gunpowder when the canal was being built. Due to the expense involved, the towpath rises up to 7 metres above water level in several places and for the whole stretch rarely dips below 5 metres above.


This made life very difficult for the horse-drawn boats and even still the footing is somewhat treacherous particularly for tired legs. It is believed that the awkwardness of the towing arrangements was a contributory factor. A night boat struck the bank near Porterstown bridge and the boat capsized. The facts are somewhat hazy but either 16 or 17 peoples drowned that night. It was the worse accident to have occurred on the canal.

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Here you can see the sheer scale of the engineering works required to dig this channel. Remember that this was a hundred years before dynamite was invented. Mostly nowadays we just glide over such engineering on trains or in cars without even noticing and don’t give the slighted thought to the thousands of men who laboured in horrible conditions for a pittance of wages to construct such things. Their sacrifice is so regularly discarded when these things are shut down on a whim only for the mistake to be realised 20 or 30 years later.


Anyway, enough of that. Things were really dragging on and time was getting very tight indeed by the time I reached the 12th lock which is as far as boats can go except by special arrangement.There was a grand-looking pub here and I would have loved to stop for a drink which would probably have quietened down my screaming feet a bit but unfortunately, time was pressing and I had to drive at the other end of my train journey home anyway.


From here, it was on to the aqueduct crossing the M50 orbital motorway which must be Ireland’s most complicated motorway junction, involving a motorway, a major road, a couple of minor roads, a railway and the canal.

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From here on it was a real mad dash as the train time was getting closer and closer. There were other options, but the probably would have involved me standing all the way home which I really didn’t want to do.


It really was such a mad dash into Ashtown that I didn’t even get a chance to take a picture. I made the train with literally 30 seconds to spare. Ashtown marks the end of the Royal Canal Way but not necessarily the walk. It was a little anti-climactic to finish the walk of this way, but I will try to revisit it and walk from Ashtown into the city over the next while.

Royal Canal – Kilcock to the Ryewater Aqueduct

Fortified by my coffee and chocolate bar, I set off walking again. So far I had the place mostly to myself, I’d seen a couple of dog-walkers around Kilcock but by now the fishermen were starting to make an appearance. The mist had also mostly lifted and it was getting to look like quite a fine day. Just out of Kilcock, I came across this shed that back in the days of the building boom had been a helicopter hanger.


The canal, railway and road went in parallel for about 1.5km outside of Kilcock until the road took its leave of us and the route returned to silence.


Not long after this I came upon another lock and this one had a couple of boats by it. I resolved to make it as far as Leixlip before stopping for lunch but was planning on another quite coffee break at Maynooth.


The canal had really long straight sections at this point – a function of the very flat landscape I suppose.


There is an interesting contrast between the style of the railway bridges and that of the canal. As they are right beside each-other for this whole section, it seems that a lot of the canal bridges were just extended into railway bridges but the stonework is quite a bit fancier on the railway half of the bridges which were built about 70 years later.


Just after this bridge, we crossed the Rye water over a little aqueduct which was barely noticeable. It would cause considerably more bother the next time we came across it.


I wasn’t that long getting from Kilcock to Maynooth which are only about 6km apart but as I had such a long section from Enfield to Kilcock, I decided to treat myself to another cup of coffee at Maynooth harbour which was in need of a good clean-out.


After a quick break it was onwards towards Leixlip where I was planning to take my lunch-break. We another few km of very straight sections of canal.


Another one of these dual bridges – they all look strangely lob-sided as the railway half obviously needed more clearance so that side ended up higher.


I came across rather a fabulous pigeon loft near Leixlip – all the mod cons. By now I was getting quite close to my lunch stop – it is quite nice being right by the railway, as you always know exactly where you are. The OS map has the railway mile posts on it so you could tell how long it was to go pretty much exactly when the railway was visible. I rounded the turn coming to Louisa bridge.


I’ve always liked the name Louisa bridge, and can’t find its origin anywhere. Most of the canal bridges are named after investors or directors but there is the odd exception.

Anyway, this is the point for my next stop – the massive Ryewater aqueduct which carries the canal and railway 70 or 80m above the comparatively insignificant  Ryewater river. This massive engineering structure absorbed close to a third of the entire share capital of the original canal company.



The view from the canal side is quite rural although you can see the Intel plant to the left of the area in this shot. The view from the railway is much more built-up but is  more obvious how far above the landscape you are.


I sat down by this ruined cottage for my lunch and had a bit of a rest


Royal Canal – Enfield to Kilcock

I had a very early start to get the last chunk of the Royal Canal Way finished off. I arrived in Enfield by train at 7:15 and was greeted with a heavy mist as is normally the case at this time of year. The train journey was uneventful, even if I did feel a bit odd among the commuters in my hiking gear

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Anyway, without much ado I sorted myself out and settled into the hike. I backtracked a couple of hundred metres to cross the railway and the canal to get onto the tow-path and then got moving. The disused signal box at Enfield looked quite ghostly in the mist and half-light of the morning.


It was quite unusual for me to see if from this angle after having passed it literally thousands of times on the train but this walk in general was about seeing things from a new perspective for me.

There were a few interesting flowers about but the light was still quite dull for taking pictures. With the thick mist there was little point in taking pictures of anything else so I mostly ignored the camera and got on with walking.



I resolved to make Kilock before stopping as it was a good 13 – 14 km away as there was little point in getting into a habit of regular stops early in the walk. I reckoned on having to do 40 km to get to the end of the official Royal Canal Way at Ashtown and figured if I could get there a little earlier that I might be able to make it a little further. By 8:30, I had reached my step goal for the day of 10,000 steps and I still had a long long way to go.

With about 8km done today, I finally hit the end of the Long Level – a 32km stretch with no locks. I had very few locks to pass today – I think I counted about 5 for the day. Most of the locks on this side of the summit are in a group near Killucan and there are 10 in the last 8 km to the sea. Most of the locks I passed today were to be double-chambered affairs – including this one.


The mist really was hanging on this morning and by now my feet were getting quite wet from the heavy dew on the grass. Needless to say, I hadn’t bothered bringing gaiters which I had taken for the other tree sections and not needed. By about 9:30 the sun was making a feeble attempt to get through the mist but not really doing terribly well.


By now, I wasn’t far from Kilcock when I came to Allen bridge. Kilcock is quite spread out and there was a nice walk through the back-end of the town to get to the main harbour which is by the new railway station.


After another lock and an annoying road crossing, I was at the harbour and I sat down for a well-earned cup of coffee and a chocolate bar. They have a well-organised canoe-polo club in Kilcock and I sat opposite their club-house for my rest.


Walking the Branch

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.