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Royal Canal Way

Trail Overview Details

Grade: Easy
Format: Linear
Trail Quality: **
County: Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Longford, Westmeath
Category: Walking/Hiking Trails
Type: National Waymarked Trail
Length (Kms): 144.00
Climb (m): Minimal
Estimated time: 6 days
Start point: First Lock
Start point grid ref: O 168 356
End point: Cloondara
End point grid ref: N 063 757
Nearest town to start: Dublin
Ordnance survey map: OSI Discovery Series Sheet 40, 41, 48* (*ca 1.3km on canal bank), 49 and 50
Dogs Allowed: Yes
Facilities: Parking
At Start - none
At End - on Street in Cloondara
Public transport: At Start: Rail Check with: Iarnrod Eireann.
Bus Check With: Dublin Bus.
At End: Good bus service; Check with Bus Eireann.
. Rail Check with: Iarnrod Eireann.
Map guide available: Guide to the Royal Canal of Ireland - The Waterways Service & Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.


Yellow arrow on black background

Description of Trail

Work began on the construction of the 146 km long Royal Canal, to connect Ireland’s capital city, Dublin, with the upper River Shannon in 1790, and the canal was completed in 1817. It operated in competition with the Grand Canal which ran an almost parallel route never more than 30 km to the south, and with the Grand, was made redundant by the advent of the railways in the mid-19th century. The canal was officially closed to all navigation in 1961, but like the Grand Canal, much of the Royal has been restored in recent decades, and the Royal Canal Way currently follows grassy towpaths, gravel and sometimes tarmac canal-side roads from the Dublin suburb of Ashtown 105 kilometres to the village of Abbeyshrule in County Longford. Some sections of tow path can be muddy. Further restoration will take the navigable canal and the walking route all the way to the Shannon. There is a good range of options for overnight accommodation along most of the route: it is, however, relatively easy to walk some sections and return to your starting point by public transport. Apart from the glorious, linear cordon of unspoilt countryside the route provides, there are a number of significant examples of late-eighteenth century industrial archaeology to admire along the way, including the Ryewater Aquaduct which takes the canal high over the Rye river, and which took six years to build.

Trail Map


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