The Barrow is a picturesque navigation, with short canal cuts bypassing shallow stretches of water. It winds its way through a wooded valley, past small friendly villages and rural countryside. It is considered one of the most picturesque of Ireland’s waterways.
The Barrow Way allows for sightings of a rich variety of river life - swans, mallard, heron, kingfisher and hen pheasant are regularly to be seen. The full length of the Barrow Way, from Lowtown to St. Mullins is 113 kilometres (70 miles). You can cover this distance in a single journey in less than a week or explore shorter sections of the walk in a number of easy strolls.
Although not designated as a way marked route at present, the route is an interesting one with limited signposting along its towpaths.
A need for a link from the Grand Canal to the River Barrow was recognised when the Grand Canal was being developed, as the river is navigable only on the tide from the sea at New Ross to St. Mullins on Co. Carlow. Work began in 1761 at St. Mullins and by 1790 restricted navigation was possible to Athy where the navigation linked with the Grand Canal. The Barrow Navigation is 65km long, with 23 locks, and it extends from the heritage town of Athy to St. Mullins. It then links with the Grand Canal, which joins the main artery at Lowtown in County Kildare.