Barrow Way

County Carlow
22 reviews
Grade Easy
Length 116.9 km
Time 4 days
Format Linear
Dogs Allowed Under effective control
Waymarking Yellow arrow on black background
Start Point
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,
Dublin 15
Tel 01-8680148


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***

Map Guides

Map Guides

Guide to the Barrow Navigation of Ireland - Inland Waterways Association of Ireland. Informarion also available from Waterways Ireland.

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.


Wukasch from Dublin

The Burrow Way walking trail in Ireland didn't particularly captivate my interest. I completed it over two days, and while it was manageable, it seemed a bit of a stretch for me. Following heavy rainfall, the trail took on a rather moody character, and even with proper Goretex boots, one's feet are likely to get wet. Using walking poles, especially between Muine Bheg in County Carlow and Athy, is highly advisable. Beyond Athy, the trail becomes somewhat paved, allowing for an increase in walking speed. However, this section mostly covers long, straight parts that aren't particularly appealing.

It's disheartening to discover that Ireland has a scarcity of proper off-road walking trails. The Burrow Way, unfortunately, concludes in the small village of St. Mullin's, falling short of extending to the point where the River Barrow discharges into the Irish Sea. The decision not to continue the trail to this significant natural endpoint is difficult to understand, leaving the Burrow Way to end abruptly in the middle of nowhere in the quaint village of St. Mullin's. This choice seems perplexing and leans towards the ridiculous.

Mary from Cork

Just completed this trail start of July. Between Glenaree Bridge and Wilsons Bridge and on a bit of the trail between Monasterevin and Vicarstown there were sections of the trail fenced off completely. It seemed to be to accommodate taking up the grass to make way for gravel paths that are more accommodating to cycling. This was a bit annoying, as there was no advance notice anywhere (that I'm aware of) and to go around via roads would have meant big detours, so we managed to climb through but that would not be possible for everyone.
We got to just camping on the side of the grass path about 1 or 2 km outside of Vicarstown. Day 1 covering 36km, we set off on day 2 finishing up in Carlow. This part of the walk is a little boring and might lend itself to cycling more to be honest, easy though and lots of places to get cuppas along the way. We stayed in a hotel in Carlow at end of day 2, I would say if you were camping find a spot 2-4 km before Carlow town or about 2k after, you could find spots by the river in the town to camp but it wasn't very appealing. At the start of day 3 we walked to Milford and picked up a canoe to do the rest of the route. I don't really recommend this unless you can paddle down weirs, we ended up going through the many locks and it was pretty frustrating (the lock at Bagnelstown is pretty manky), but it was also really really beautiful, we saw lots of birds and plant life and fish up close. Slyguff is a great place to camp, so beautiful this is where we finished day 3. Clashganny lock is a spot with bathrooms (if i am remembering right). On day 4 we ditched the canoe at Graiguenamanagh got coffee at a cafe/flower shop, where we were treated to some conspiracy theories from the owner, fun! (be warned!).
We finished day 4 walking to St. Mullins. Overall, it was very pretty, pretty easy, but a little boring. Second half is definitely nicer so you could probably start the walk at Carlow town and go from there if you were stuck for time.

Frieda from Cork

It would be good to specify the length of each section of the walk and maybe links for accommodation.

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.

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

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.

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!


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:

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

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.

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