Barrow Way

Walking
County Kildare
4.2/5
20 reviews
Grade Easy
Length 120 km
Time 4 days
Format Linear
Dogs Allowed Under effective control
Waymarking Yellow arrow on black background
Start Point
Robertstown
Finish Point
St. Mullins
Nearest Town to Start Robertstown
Grid Ref. N 790 250 / S 728 378
Lat. and Long. 53.26985, -6.81597 / 52.48748, -6.928

The River Barrow vies with one of its sister rivers, the Suir, as the second longest river in Ireland. It rises in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in the southern midlands, and flows to join its two ‘sisters’, the Nore and the Suir, before flowing into the Celtic Sea at Waterford Harbour. The Barrow was made navigable in the eighteenth century by the insertion of short sections of canal along its course, and the 114km long Barrow Way follows surviving towpaths and riverside roads from the canal hamlet of Lowtown in County Kildare to the beautiful monastic site and village of St Mullins in south County Carlow. It is a peaceful route through a quiet sylvan landscape, with the constantly expanding river, growing more majestic every mile, for company. Terrain consists mainly of grassy towpaths, tracks and quiet roads. Overnight accommodation options are good: the route is frequently punctuated with villages and towns, many of which were founded at fording places by the Normans soon after the invasion. Among the interesting places the route passes through and walkers might wish to linger a while are the towns of Rathangan with its great hosting place, and Athy and Carlow. Borris in South County Carlow is a fine place that grew up around Borris House, the homeplace of the McMurrough Kavanagh clan, and Graiguenamanagh, a quaint old monastic town where a book festival is held every year, is Ireland’s Hay-on-Wye.

Trail Management

Waterways Ireland,

Floor 2 Block C,

Ashtowngate,
Dublin 15
Tel 01-8680148
Email: info@waterwaysireland.org

Facilities

Car parking
At Start - on street in Robertstown.
At End - on riverbank or near Abbey in St Mullins.

9 kms or 9% of the Way follows local roads.

***Dogs under effective control allowed, please clean up after your dog***

OSI Maps

OSI Maps

Discovery Series Sheets 49, 55, 61 and 68
Public Transportation

Public Transportation

At Start: Bus to Robertstown.
Check with Bus Eireann.
At End: None at present.

20 trail reviews
4.2/5
Write your own review of this trail
08/30/2019

Frieda from Cork

It would be good to specify the length of each section of the walk and maybe links for accommodation.
4/5
04/22/2019

Aaron from Kildare

5 of us just did a bikepacking trip from Goresbridge to Graigue on Good Friday just gone. Id say this section is roughly one third each of gravel, grass and dry bare singletrack. As always grass was harder to cycle on, the two kids found those parts especially hard, the gravel and single track were really enjoyable. Gravel all the way would be great. Have done various sections of the Barrow Way, and this was the most picturesque. Spotted about 5 birds of prey total on the second day. Diving board in Graigue is great to cool off. This section roughly measures 18km. One guy did it on a loaded racing bike. Looking forward to this section again. Camped in Brandon Hill camping.
5/5
01/16/2019

Brian from Kilkenny

I cycled this with my friend during a very recent hot spell. We cycled from Goresbridge to Graig. It was amazing and extremely easy. We took out time with photo stops etc but it could easily be done in 45min at nice pace. When I reviewed the graph from my GPS it showed it was all downhill so my advice is to cycle the track southwards. Also be prepared and bring spare tube/repair kit, just in case. There is a very long walk otherwise. The other good thing is 3km after Goresbridge there's literally just the odd cyclist so almost totally deserted.

The only other downside is it would be far better for cyclists if the track was tarmaced the entire way as punctures are a quite possible

Have fun
3/5
08/07/2018

Michael from Kilkenny

I cycled recently from Graiguenmanagh to Athy. There's a track the whole way made up of different surfaces but a lot of it seemed to be dry compact clay. I'd suggest doing this in the summer to ensure dry paths. Scenery was really good especially from Graig to Goresbridge. I found it a bit difficult to keep to correct path in Carlow town so a sign or two would be useful



You can actually keep going all the way to Dublin once you reach Athy.
Email: No Email supplied
06/22/2018

Patrick from Carlow

Great experience to walk along the second longest river in Ireland. Some stretches I suppose more spectacular than others. By bike or on foot, you can take time out and enjoy the peace that nature brings. Everything slows down as you walk beside Ireland's slowest meandering river through Laois, Kildare, Carlow, Wexford, and Waterford.

As I travel by myself and enjoy the solitude, the one thing that disturbs my peace is irresponsible dog owners who assume that travellers don't feel threatened by dog walkers with two or more dogs - not on leashes. The assumption of these dog owners is that everyone out on a walk likes dogs rushing and barking at them. For me at least when I see someone approach on the Barrow Way is if they have let their dog off the leash or not and how many dogs they have decided to bring on the walk.

Another issue I have is the signage, before Milford Waterways Ireland blocked the walkway and provided inadequate instructions as to where the traveller could re-enter the Barrow Way. Indeed, I followed their instructions and had to travel on a very busy rural road and when I tried to get on the Barrow Way again, I was attacked by a large dog and had to work out myself how to continue my walk on the Barrow Way.

Terrible pity that travellers should be made so apprehensive to use such a valuable facility.

Let's get this right and make dog owners aware of their responsibilities and come on Waterways Ireland, really? Get your act together and get help if you can't come up with adequate signage.

Today, I travelled from Carlow to Bagnelstown. To get back, because of my experiences, dog and bad signage, I decided to travel back by the back road to Carlow. Couldn't hack the off-road experience!

5/5
03/28/2017

Martin from Tyrone

I visited the area again recently to walk the 19km section from Athy to Carlow Town (I'd done the Carlow to Bagenalstown part back in 2015, see previous comment). Really enjoyable, sunny day's walking. Took 5.5 hours with plenty of stops. The section was more scenic than I expected, though I always preferred walking along the river itself than the side canals. Plenty of natural and man-made points of interest. Have to say I'm in favour of keeping the grassy surface. It's a pleasure to walk on, especially for a full day like mine. I suspect a hard surface would eventually become tiring. Definitely plan to return to walk the later sections of the route. I wrote a blog post with photos from this section if you want to get a feel for it: https://hikecycleireland.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/the-barrow-way-athy-to-carlow/
3/5
03/01/2017

Pat from Wicklow

Having done the trail the actual length is over 120km, Rathangan to next south bound lock open north bound but difficult to pass with occasional machinery on track & deep mud, closed south bound from Rathangan
4/5
10/02/2016

David from Dublin

Rode from Grand Canal Dock in Dublin to the Rowing Club in Carlow (9 hours). Trails are a combination of (occasionally muddy) grass, gravel and bitumen. Considerable sections unsurfaced (just grass) so MTB essential. Started on the Grand Canal Way and switched to the Barrow Way at Robertstown. Scenery can be pretty mundane in parts (it IS a flat canal in the Midlands after all!), but scenery improved when canal met Barrow at Athy



Would be vastly improved for riders if there was a sealed/graveled surface throughout (even a narrow strip). Walk-able throughout.
4/5
05/24/2016

gerry from Dublin

Hi

I cycled from Lucan Co Dublin along the Grand Canal. It is not easy with all the gates, you have to lift the bike over them. I think some one could come up with a more bike friendly way. When I got down to Lowtown and went on to the Barrow it was just the same till I got to Vickerstown where I took the road to Athy and on to Carlow (had enough of gates).

I went back on to the tow path at Loughlinstown Bridge and from there down to St Mullin's was beautiful ... it rained for the two days.

I would do it again without the gates .. met some great people fishing and walking on the way, that's what it is all about ( do it ). I am giving it a 4 star .... gates

Gerry Heaney
4/5
08/19/2015

Paul from Dublin

My brother and I cycled the Barrow Way over two days in August 2015. It was a lovely experience - really worth doing. We got a lift to Robertstown and proceeded from there.

The first day took us from Robertsown to Carlow Town, a total of about 60km (6.5 hours). We stayed in the Seven Oaks (with pool) and were very well looked after.

The scenery is lovely - I printed off the maps from this website (it roughly takes one hour to traverse each map), which were helpful if a little lacking in detail (canal locks / numbers etc.). The towpath was in part road, in part stoned track but mainly it is grass track - in fairness this was well cut throughout and did not slow us down unduly. The Barrow Way does alternate between the left and right banks so it is worth sticking to the maps and watching for the 'Barrow Way' markers.

The second day took us from Carlow to Graiguenamanagh - about 40km (4 hours). We had planned to go on to St. Mullins but this would have meant doubling back to Graiguenamanagh and on to Thomastown. So we cut the way a little short and headed for the 3pm train to Dublin from Thomastown. This was a 15km cycle, half uphill, half downhill (one hour).

This is a beautiful track, up there with the Royal and Grand Canal Ways, but sadly we met very few walkers or other cyclists. With a little bit of investment (narrow tarmac strip ?) and good marketing this track could really draw in tourists to the region. Even so it is well worth doing, in part or in full.

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