I walked the Royal Canal Way from Dublin as far as Ballynacargy in August 2019. My 108km Royal Canal journey lasted 5 days in total. This post explores the Royal Canal Way Accommodation options that I stayed in. As such, it includes my own personal experiences of staying in three different hotels along the way.
One of the great things about walking the Royal Canal is the variety of accommodation options that actually exist along the Way. There are medium to large towns every 20-25 kilometres or so which give a good variety of options to choose from. Everything from Bed and Breakfasts, Guesthouses and Air BnB’s to some really top-class hotels. This post only looks at 3 of the places I stayed in. Just to note; I treated myself to some of the more fancy R&R locations. There are definitely less expensive options available. You can do this walk in a variety of ways. I just felt that after a long day of walking, it would be great to have a really nice hotel to arrive into. Walking doesn’t always have to be rough and ready. It’s a holiday after all. Sometimes it’s good to treat yourself too!
Hopefully this article will give you a flavour of what they are like if you are doing something similar while walking the Royal Canal Way.
My first stop was Maynooth. The town itself is 26km along the Royal Canal Way.
The entrance to the Carton House estate is located 2.5km before the town of Maynooth. Right on the banks of the Royal Canal. The suitably named Carton Wharf marks the spot. You can see the entrance to the Hotel on your right hand side.
It’s then another 2km walk from the entrance to get to the actual hotel reception.
The 2km walk is through the golf course and grounds of the hotel and is really nice. The crossing of the Rye River and lake in front of the impressive hotel building is particularly stunning.
An interesting fact about the lake and boathouse in front of Carton house is that they were built in advance of a visit of Queen Victoria of England. The Queen had a dream about sailing in a boat in the Carton House lake. The only problem with this was that no such lake existed! So in order to make these royal dreams come true, a man-made lake was constructed before Victoria arrived.
More details about the history of the house and grounds is available on the Carton House website.
Sporting royalty was in attendance in Carton House during our visit there with the Irish Rugby team conducting a training camp on the grounds. Other than that it was pretty quiet on our mid-week stay.
Overall, the hotel is lovely, there are plenty of dining options from formal to more casual fare. Our midweek deal included spa treatments. I have to say, it was pretty nice to get a massage for my tired body after a long day walking. It really set me up for the next leg of the trip to Enfield.
I walked the 2km from the Carton House Hotel back to the banks of the Royal Canal. Then 2.5km into the town of Maynooth. From there it is a very pleasant walk of just under 19km to the town of Enfield. Enfield Bridge was my departure point from the canal and it’s another 2km to get to Johnstone Estate. Johnstown Estate is an 18th century Georgian country house.
This time I didn’t have any massage booked. However I did take advantage of the nice leisure centre facilities on offer in the Hotel. After walking nearly 26km earlier in the day, it was a real pleasure to relax in the pool. This was followed up with a nice dinner and a couple of pints in the Coach House bar.
The rooms were clean and tidy and the staff all very friendly in the Johnstown Estate. All in all we had a nice stay there. Continuing with the sporting theme of the holiday, the Irish women’s soccer team were having a training camp in Johnstone when we were there.
The price point for Johnstown comes in a bit lower than Carton. This is understandable as while all very nice, it doesn’t have the regal opulence of Carton House. Johnstown is definitely the nicest accommodation option in Enfield though and well worth a visit.
In a perfect example of things getting cheaper the further you get from Dublin, my next night’s accommodation was very good value. I stayed in Harry’s of Kinnegad. I would describe it as a standard type of Hotel that you would expect in a rural Irish town.
With the good value on offer, you are foregoing the likes of a pool and spa facilities. Kinnegad is a nice place to spend the night though. There are good food options and a number of really nice pubs. It fitted the bill perfectly for the type of break I was looking for. That being, a nice leisurely walk during the day and to relax with a good dinner and a few drinks at night.
Having said all that, Kinnegad is not directly on the Royal Canal. The nearest point to the town is Darcy’s Bridge.
This bridge is 22km from Enfield Bridge. So actually 24km from Johnstown Estate. It’s then 5km further to get to Kinnegad. I wouldn’t mind the extra 5km hugely however a good portion of this is along the busy Kinnegad-Killucan road. So please bear this in mind when thinking about accommodation in the area.
Harry’s itself is nice. I enjoyed a good dinner there before venturing out for a couple of pints in Brackens and Scanlons. Both well worth a visit. I had one more back in the Hotel bar where there were a few interesting characters to chat away with. Then off to bed for another big day of walking. This time to Mullingar.
Later Royal Canal Way Accommodation
I was lucky enough to be able to stay with Family for my next two nights on the Royal Canal Way. Mullingar has plenty of accommodation options available to walkers. From then on, it does get a bit more limited but there are Royal Canal Way accommodation options in Abbeyshrule, Ballymahon and Cloondara.
When planning a walking trip along the royal canal way, it is important to take into account the distances you want to walk each day and try to find a population centre nearby that has some accommodation options that suit the type of trip you are looking to organise. The Royal Canal Amenity Group has a really good distance table that will help in this regard. I also have another post which gives a general guide about what you need to know before setting out to walk the Royal Canal Way.
If like me, you want to incorporate a bit of luxury such as spa bookings, pools and leisure centre visits etc. then this is definitely possible. It’s true that more options on this front are available nearer Dublin. I often think it would be nice to walk the Royal Canal Way starting at Cloondara and then taking advantage of the increasingly fancier accommodation options on each step of the way as I progress. My body might need them after all those kilometres of walking. Another one for the list!