Walking the Royal Canal – Ashtown to Maynooth

Walking the Royal Canal – Ashtown to Maynooth

Although cloudy overhead, the weather was nice and warm on the Tuesday morning in August when I set off on my adventure of walking the Royal Canal. 

Here We Go!!

I started walking the Royal Canal at around 10am. Immediately I failed my stated mission to stop in every pub I walked past over the course of the next 5 days.

The Canal Bar (since changed its name to The Lockkeepers) which is located at the 10th Lock was closed. In addition to it being illegal to serve alcohol before 10.30, I don’t think I would have been able for a pint to be honest.

Instead, I stopped into the SuperValu in Ashtown and picked up a coffee and some lunch for later on in the day. This was a much more sensible option.

After Ashtown I walked on the south side of the canal. Before Ashtown the tow path is on the north side. This is useful information to know about the Royal Canal Way.

It was all nicely tarmacked along the towpath to start which was quiet enough with the occasional jogger, walker or someone with a dog. 

Soon it was on to my first viaduct of the trip as the canal passed over the extremely busy M50.

Early Doors

The weather was improving with every step I walked. It was just coming up to 11.30 when I reached the 12th Lock Hotel. Despite it being extremely early still, I decided I couldn’t fail my first two attempts at my pub challenge. As such, I went into the Hotel Bar. They were busy preparing for the lunchtime rush and I got a slightly strange look from the barmaid when I asked for a bottle of cider. Despite it being before noon, I have to say that I really enjoyed the refreshing drink as I sat outside in the sunny beer garden. This was what holidays were all about!

There were some lovely barges and canal cruisers moored up near the hotel. Shortly after walking past the train station in Castleknock, the towpath gets a lot rougher and is basically a narrow dirt path with grass growing high on either side. This all added to the sense of adventure though.

Getting Easier Underfoot

These conditions underfoot continued until I crossed over the bridge on the Porterstown Road and on to the north side of the canal. After this, the conditions were a lot smoother. It was a nice wide path until just after Clonsilla which then turned into a narrow track. This track was sometimes gravel but mostly a dirt pathway. This was fine though as the grass was short on each side and I had no problems walking along it. 

I stopped for lunch shortly after passing the Headquarters of the Royal Canal Amenity Group. This is just after crossing the border from Dublin to Kildare. There were plenty of colourful barges moored along this section and I sat in grass on the side of the towpath and ate my sandwiches in the sun. 

I soon passed by the Confey GAA pitches. There seemed to be some sort of a summer camp going on there with lots of children out and about having great fun.

A Waddle of Ducks Walking the Royal Canal

After going under the next bridge I came across a waddling of ducks right in front of me. They let me get very close to them before all splashing into the water.  

Unexpected Waterfall while Walking the Royal Canal

There are a few sites of interest beside the Leixlip Louisa Bridge station. Firstly, we cross our first aqueduct of the Royal Canal Way as we pass over the River Rye. When they were building the aqueduct at the end of the 18th century, they discovered a warm water spring. Soon this developed into a Spa and roman bath. The roman bath can still be viewed but is quite derelict at this stage. Finally, there is also a waterfall here too from the overflow off the canal. Not what I expected to see!

It’s another 3.5km along the canal to get to the entrance of Carton House Hotel. This is located at Pike Bridge. Carton House was my stop for the night.

Pike Bridge

It’s another 2km of a walk to get to the actual hotel itself. The avenue is through the golf course and over the Rye River again. The Hotel and grounds are stunning.

The Hotel staff seemed a bit shocked that I had walked there from Dublin. I don’t think this is a common occurrence for them. My wife joined me that evening in Carton House. She seemed delighted when I informed her that the Irish Rugby Team was staying in the hotel. I think they hold a lot of their training camps there.

This completed Day One of my adventure. I walked just over 20km in total in just under 5 hours. It was a really pleasant day walking the Royal Canal.