Grand Canal Way

Walking
County Dublin
3.8/5
12 reviews
Grade Easy
Length 117 km
Time 5 days
Format Linear
Dogs Allowed Under effective control
Waymarking Yellow arrow on black background
Start Point
Lucan Road Bridge
Finish Point
Shannon Harbour
Nearest Town to Start Lucan, Co Dublin
Grid Ref. O 029 323 / N 024 188
Lat. and Long. 53.33094, -6.45527 / 53.21962, -7.96406

The Grand Canal was designed to connect Dublin, Ireland’s capital city westwards through the midlands with the River Shannon, and although construction work began in 1757, the waterway was not completed as far as the Shannon until 1804. It closed to commercial traffic in 1951, but in recent decades the canal has been restored for amenity use, and is well-frequented by pleasure craft of all kinds. The Grand Canal Way follows pleasant grassy towpaths, gravel and sometimes tarmac canal-side roads from Lucan Bridge near Adamstown in County Dublin 124km to Shannon Harbour on Ireland’s longest river. The route is an informal linear park punctuated by the locks that characterise canal technology, carefully restored surviving lock-keepers cottages, and the towns and villages whose existence is owed to the trade and commerce the canal brought in the 18th and 19th centuries. Much of the landscape through which the route passes has been untouched by modern agriculture and remains a linear oasis for the flora and fauna that was originally common throughout our countryside. The many towns and villages along the way provide walkers with accommodation possibilities along the route, and as public transport options are good, these places can act as starting and finishing points for those who want to sample only sections of the route.

Trail Management

Waterways Ireland,
Floor 2 Block C,
Ashtowngate,
Dublin 15
Tel 01-8680148
Email: info@waterwaysireland.org
Web: www.waterwaysireland.org

Facilities

Car parking
At Start - limited space - do not to get locked in behind barrier at end of road beside Engineering firm
At End - space at Griffith Bridge and also at 36th Lock

31 kms or 26% of the Way follows local roads. There may be issues with waymarking at some points along the trail.
***Dogs under effective control allowed. Please clean up after your dog***

Map Guides

Map Guides

Guide to the Grand Canal of Ireland - Waterways Ireland & Inland Waterways Association of Ireland

OSI Maps

OSI Maps

Discovery Series Sheets 47, 48, 49, 50 and 53* (*ca 3.3km to River Shannon)
Public Transportation

Public Transportation

At Start: Bus to Shopping Centre in Lucan (about 2km off Way) and also to Milltown (about 1.5 km off Way) - Check timetables at Dublin Bus/.
At End: Limited bus service to Dublin (Monday to Friday only). Check timetables at
Bus Eireann.

12 trail reviews
3.8/5
Write your own review of this trail
4/5
08/03/2021

Brian from Ireland

We just cycled from Grand Canal Dock in Dublin to Shannon Harbour in Offaly, cycling on the towpath the whole time.

Day 1: to Robertstown
Day 2: to Tullamore
Day 3: to Birr (via Shannon Harbour of course!)

As only sections are a proper cycleway, it can get tough depending on the bumps and length of grass etc. Our hybrid bikes were well able for it.

We used Google Maps at the bridges to check which is the best path to go on. There were some sections under construction but not a huge amount, some stretches were very remote.

We did the Royal Canal in 2 days and felt the extra day for this trip was perfect.

I'd recommend it and although it would be great to have a finished greenway, it was nice working some of it out as we went along, more of an adventure!
4/5
06/08/2021

AJ from Dublin

A friend and I completed the Grand Canal Way from the Liffey River to Shannon River over two days. We both have older hybrid bikes, which stood up to the terrain, and were less forgiving on the bums and arms. He had two panniers, while I settled for one and a small camelback.

It's a flat trail, which makes it easy for any age, but the variety of terrain makes it difficult to do in its entirety over 2 days. We ended up coming off the trail three times for breaks from the bumps and gravel. The first was to give our arms a break with some pavement between Lowtown and Allenwood. Then between Ticknevin Bridge (Green Road) and George's Bridge (St. Mary's Road) per the advice of bikers coming from that direction, who said it's under construction and quite difficult. It gave us a chance to go into Edenderry for snacks. Finally, between Rhode Bridge and Watertown, which has a decent sized hill on the sometimes busy R402.

The lack of accommodation during the pandemic made it hard as well. We had to get all the way to Ballycommon House 8 kms short of Tullamore if we wanted to get past half way on day 1. And then the pub was closed.

Day 2 was much easier and shorter, so we had time to stroll around Tullamore town for breakfast, and take more breaks along the way. It was very nice to pull into Shannon Harbour near lunchtime but, again with Covid, there wasn't much open.

For accommodation and lunch, we headed up to Shannon Bridge. Although it didn't have much open either, except a Gala shop and SuperMacs. Pubs were re-opening the next day, so there was a good vibe in the air.

The final day had us cycling 25kms to Athlone, where we enjoyed a brunch, pints, and a train trip back to Dublin.

In conclusion, if it were a paved trail, everyone would be doing it, and it wouldn't have been as peaceful. Next time, I'll be taking a better bike with some suspension.

NOTE FROM WATERWAYS IRELAND:
The Grand Canal Way has been a much-loved long distance waymarked trail for walking, and is only now being upgraded for shared use as a Greenway. Certain sections therefore may be unsuitable for cycling. The current status of development works can be found at https://www.waterwaysireland.org/Pages/Development-of-the-Grand-Canal-Greenway.aspx
5/5
10/22/2019

Helen from Offaly

An absolutely charming trail. I felt so proud bringing my Corkonian husband up to cycle part of this route. We cycle all over Ireland and many parts of Europe on our electric bikes. This is the blog we wrote for this trip and I think it shows how much we enjoyed our trip from Lough Boora to Tullamore and back; https://cityviewwheels.com/just-one-more-lock-the-lure-of-the-grand-canal/our-blog/just-one-more-lock-the-lure-of-the-grand-canal/
4/5
08/13/2019

Paul from Dublin

My friend and I cycled the Grand Canal Way in July 2019. It took two days’ cycling (120km) and a total of 10 hours in the saddle. We started in Sallins and cycled west to Shannon Harbour. I really enjoyed it and would heartily recommend it to others. It’s a pity that it’s not utilised more – we met only a few walkers and no cyclists at all. The scenery is beautiful, and it has changed little over the last 200 years !



I followed the maps on this website, and while more detail would be beneficial, they were useful to have. It seemed to take us about 50mins per map. The terrain for the most part is very good, predominantly tarmacked track, but in parts (about 30%) it is just fairly rough grass track. Having said that it was possible to cycle all of it. The Grand Canal Way pathway is mainly on the north bank of the canal, but you do need to pay attention at bridges and follow the signs as it does shift to the south bank quite a few times (eg. approaching Robertstown). At times there are no signs at all, at others they are aimed at walkers rather than cyclists – where we’d often have been better taking the other, tracked, bank.



Day 1 took us from Sallins Co. Kildare to Tullamore (70kms). It follows a lovely path through beautifully isolated countryside. We stopped for a lovely lunch in Larkin’s Pub in Edenderry. But beware: the canal bank for kilometres either side of the town is long grass and is draining. We cycled on to Daingean and had a pint Seery’s Pub. We stayed in Tullamore at the end of six and a half hours’ cycling. We stayed in Court Hotel, Tullamore which is just a couple of hundred metres from the canal. The pool here was very welcome, and our bikes were locked securely in the hotel overnight - €65 pps.



Day 2 saw us leave Tullamore and head for Shannon Harbour (45kms). The track either side of Tullamore is suberb. It was easy going as far as Pollagh. Thereafter there’s a three-kilometre stretch where the terrain is long grass, before it gives away – thankfully – to pathway again. The final stretch into Shannon Harbour is lovely with some beautifully kept locks.



Day 2 took us about three hours. We then headed northwards to get the train from Athlone to Dublin (a 90 minute cycle). Overall it was well worth doing. It’s a pity that it not getting the same investment as the Royal Canal. It could be a greater asset to tourism with some upkeep, signage and marketing. Whether you do it on your own or with friends you’ll really enjoy it.






3/5
10/19/2014

Martin from Waterford

3of us left Robertstown 14th October @ 10:15am, 6hrs cycle time staying on the canal to Shannon Bridge. We were staying in Birr overnight & planned to cycle back the following day, but bad weather prevented a return trip on the canal & had to go by road.

Would highly recommend the trip, soft going in places, had to lift bikes over gates, fences etc. & with panniers on board you need a helping hand. MTB is the way to go, although suspension not really required. 2 punctures from pinching on heavy gravel. Most of the trip spent on right hand side going West, but at Pullough (nice place for a pint) we switched to the left for the remainder. Some paths under repair & really unfit for hiking which made the trip all the more challenging. It's a summer spin, we got lucky with a blue sky day in October, weren't so lucky the following day.........
09/27/2014

Alan Hand from Offaly

Hi. Last weekend 5 lads got the train to Dublin at 7 am to cycle from the Grand Canal Theatre to Shannon Harbour in Co Offaly over two days. We all agreed it was a beautiful safe if not challenging cycle, a bit rough in places. We stopped in Edenderry overnight and on Saturday we finished in Shannon Harbour at 4.00 and relaxed at McIntyres Pub afterwards. I hear that Waterways Ireland are planning to make a proper cycleway on this route. Is this true? Hope so. It has huge potential. From 5 sore bums.
4/5
08/18/2014

Adrian from Dublin

My son Karl and I cycled the trail from Kylemore Road to Robertsown over about 3.5 hours on Friday August 15th. Very enjoyable, lots of wildlife. Some of the surfaces are a bit difficult for cycling but we have hybrid bikes so we managed OK. But you'd never do it on a road bike. Nice to see the Leinster acqueduct for the first time.
4/5
07/01/2014

Geraldine from Offaly

Today another beautiful day, a friend and I travelled from Pollagh to Tullamore and back. A total of 22 miles. Very peaceful and quiet and lots of people saving turf on the way. Lots of quiet roads and very pleasant under foot. Highly recommend this trail to walkers. It did take us over 5 hours. The church in Pollagh such a rare find.
3/5
06/26/2014

Geraldine from Offaly

Last Sunday I walked from Ferbane to Pollagh and all told it was a 7 mile trip and 7 back!! Fab day and such a peaceful walk. The terrain was good because the weather was excellent for 10 days but the section with bog (about 2-3 miles) could be very wet if conditions were not suitable. Boots necessary. Loved it though.
5/5
06/16/2014

Geraldine from Offaly

Today I walked from Shannon Harbour to the bridge in Ferbane and what a sheer pleasure. A total delight for any avid walker. I picnicked in Ferbane and followed my footsteps back to Shannon Harbour. All told I was 4 hours but that included a lovely picnic and I talked to a local for 15 minutes.I wore runners but on wet days it would be advisable to wear hiking boots. Super stuff.

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