The Royal Canal Way is a picturesque National Waymarked Trail that unfolds from the Dublin banks of the waterway and reaches all the way to County Longford.
A six day, 144km undertaking, this linear trail’s terrain consists of grassy towpath, gravel and tarmac. Between its Dublin and County Longford limits, the idyllic waterway stretches through counties Kildare, Meath and Westmeath too.
Flat underfoot, the Royal Canal Way is an easy, pleasant route that showcases the canal’s abundance of scenery and architectural heritage.
Watch out for captivating wildlife, exceptional examples of centuries-old engineering including stone bridges and canal locks and of course, the odd canal barge too.
There are plenty of welcoming towns along the route for you to stay overnight in or simply take a break in - depending on how much of the trail you take. There are also many public transport options, should you wish to easily return to your start point.
- Considered a ‘wildlife corridor’, the Royal Canal is home to all sorts of creatures. From tufted ducks, moorhens, herons, mute swans and otters, to underwater dwellers like water lice, bream and pike.
- At the canal’s second lock in Dublin City, you’ll find playwright Brendan Behan immortalised in bronze.
- Beyond the seventh lock at Broombridge is a mathematically important spot. It was here in 1843 that mathematician and astronomer Sir William Rowan Hamilton was struck by a flash of genius when a calculation he had struggled with suddenly came to him. With no pen or paper, Hamilton carved the formula into the bridge itself! Today you’ll find a plaque on the bridge commemorating it.
- The Royal Canal Way is brimming with significant examples of late-18th century industrial architecture - including the Ryewater Aqueduct. This takes the canal high over the Rye River and took six years to build.