Royal Canal Way

County Dublin
36 reviews
Grade Easy
Length 146.3 km
Time 6 days
Format Linear
Ascent Minimal m
Dogs Allowed Under effective control
Waymarking Yellow arrow on black background
Start Point
First Lock
Finish Point
Nearest Town to Start Dublin
Grid Ref. O 168 356 / N 063 757
Lat. and Long. 53.35712, -6.24501 / 53.73118, -7.90495

Work began on the construction of the 146 km long Royal Canal, to connect Ireland's capital city, Dublin, with the upper River Shannon in 1790, and the canal was completed in 1817. It operated in competition with the Grand Canal which ran an almost parallel route never more than 30 km to the south, and with the Grand, was made redundant by the advent of the railways in the mid-19th century. The canal was officially closed to all navigation in 1961, but like the Grand Canal, much of the Royal has been restored in recent decades, and the Royal Canal Way currently follows grassy towpaths, gravel and sometimes tarmac canal-side roads from the Dublin suburb of Ashtown 105 kilometres to the village of Abbeyshrule in County Longford. Some sections of tow path can be muddy. Further restoration will take the navigable canal and the walking route all the way to the Shannon. There is a good range of options for overnight accommodation along most of the route: it is, however, relatively easy to walk some sections and return to your starting point by public transport. Apart from the glorious, linear cordon of unspoilt countryside the route provides, there are a number of significant examples of late-eighteenth century industrial archaeology to admire along the way, including the Ryewater Aquaduct which takes the canal high over the Rye river, and which took six years to build.

Trail Management

Waterways Ireland,
Floor 2 Block C,
Dublin 15
Tel 01-8680148


Car parking
At Start - none
At End - on Street in Cloondara

9 kms or 12% of the Way follows local roads. There may be some waymarking issues at some points along the trail.
***Dogs under effective control allowed. Please clean up after your dog***

Map Guides

Map Guides

Guide to the Royal Canal of Ireland - The Waterways Service & Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.

OSI Maps

OSI Maps

Discovery Series Sheet 40, 41, 48* (*ca 1.3km on canal bank), 49 and 50
Public Transportation

Public Transportation

At Start: Rail Check with: Iarnrod Eireann.
Bus Check With: Dublin Bus.
At End: Good bus service; Check with Bus Eireann.
. Rail Check with: Iarnrod Eireann.

36 trail reviews
Write your own review of this trail

Conor Molloy from Dublin

Great cycle, 99% off road all hard surfaces. Took bike via train to Longford night before for an 0830 start in Oct'23. Longford town poorly signposted and its possible to miss signs crossing roads from Longford to Royal Canal itself (follow a map), but once on mainline of greenway all good. Bring food etc. not many places to stop on main line. Ballynacarrigy a good place to stop for coffee before busy Mullingar. Kilcock easier to exit than very busy Maynooth. Very enjoyable 120km cycle even in cold October.

Paul from Dublin

This is the third time that I've cycled the Royal Canal Greenway - it's a lovely cycle, well worth doing. The great thing that I noticed this time around is that it is all pathway - all the way from Cloondara in Longford to Leixlip on the Dublin border. This makes such a big difference. The paths make it so much easier to cycle it - before sections of it were long, exhausting, grass. These paths alternate between the north and south banks of the canal, so you do need to pay attention. The only quibble I'd have is that the switch isn't always clear. Nonetheless the progress on this route is fantastic - well done to all those responsible. I cycled for five hours from Cloondara to Mullingar staying at the Newbury Hotel (very clean with very polite - very reasonable), and for six hours from Mullingar to Dublin the next day. It's a great cycle -more people need to experience it !

Katie Moore from Dublin

I completed the entire Royal Canal Way as a cycle with a friend in July of 2020. Took the train from Dublin to Longford station and cycled to Cloondara to begin right from the Shannon. It's only 8km directly along the N5 from the station to the start of the canal. We decided to split it over two days, overnighting in Mullingar, County Westmeath. Day one we covered 73 km (including the 8km from the station to Cloondara). The path for the entire duration was either well tarmacked towpath or easy pedalling gravel (not slippy in the slightest) and there were no sections we needed to divert from. We encountered very few people making for very tranquil straightforward cycling. There were plenty of B&B options to stay in at Mullingar and infinite takeaways for dinner. Day two we covered 90km to get the whole way to Spencer Dock at the Liffey. The path was much busier between Mullingar and Dublin, particularly so when reaching Ashtown. There was one section we deviated from the canal path as it was becoming uncomfortably narrow and the track was mud, grass and far too many rocks and tree roots for my friend's suspension-less bike!!! This was from beyond Leixlip up as far as Blanchardstown. Manageable with shocks up as far as Clonsilla. All in all, very straightforward, very doable on our two hybrid bikes, mountain bikes unnecessary. The route is well developed with little yellow walking men and cycle signs for following the entire way from Cloondara to Spencer Dock (though do be careful at bridges to not end up on the wrong side as sometimes both look good at the start). I'd recommend just going for it if you're thinking of it, very enjoyable!!

Aine from Dublin

Just back from finishing the Royal canal way and we loved it. We broke the journey into two separate weekends - the first at the end of August - starting out from Lucan on a Saturday morning, joining up at Confey as we wanted to skip the really rough part between Confey and Clonsilla (can’t understand why this hasn’t been upgraded as there is such a captive audience on the doorstep). Breaks along the way at Enfield for water and ice creams, Fureys pub for a delicious lunch, sat on the bank and cooled our feet at the blueway access point at Mary Lynch’s pub and finished up in Mullingar at Austin Friars street (maxol garage for any supplies). Two remaining upgrades, as mentioned in other reviews, still underway but very close to completion - overall surface was great, completed in about 6 hours, 74kms. Got a lift back but train is an option. Then this weekend - lift to where we last finished in Mullingar, track diverges just outside Mullingar between old train line cycle path to Athlone (the next plan) and Royal canal northwards, fabulous lunch in the rustic inn in Abbeyshrule, route is much more rural than previous leg, met only one cyclist, so peaceful and a delight, you can access the Corlea trackway Centre directly (Didn’t get to visit but track in looked great), track changes sides a couple of times but signposted well for the main part, finished the canal in Cloondara at Richmond Harbour - 5 min cycle to Tarmonbarry where we stayed in the gorgeous Keenan’s Hotel - on the Shannon, superb accommodation, food and hospitality, stored our bikes safely for us. Back the following morning on the canal to the Longford town offshoot - 18 Km’s - route finishes up 2 mins from the train station - which can bring you into Dublin Connolly. Highly recommend this cycle path and can’t wait to try out the next.

ROBERT from United Kingdom

I rode the canal from Dublin to Cloondara in a day and a half in mid May. I was lucky to have perfect weather, including a constant south-easterly, and I enjoyed every minute. The peace and beauty of the countryside was really special and I have never heard so many cuckoos! I was generally impressed with the surface of the towpath, and although the Deep Sinking came as something of a shock, I was glad to have experienced it. Only two diversions took me away from the water, both easily managed with the use of an OS map-just before Enfield and at Kilmore Bridge and just before Moyvalley, where the detour brought me back at Furey's canalside pub. Signage is excellent, particularly on those occasions when it looks possible to ride on both sides. I had a night's b and b in Clonard and when I'd finished, I stayed in Dromod. As my destination was Sligo, the following day I rode across country to Carrick and Leitrim, then followed the Shannon Blueway from Battlebridge Lock to the floating boardwalk at Acres Lake. Wonderful cycling. As a ride, the Royal Canal was memorable. Great way to find peace and quiet and discover the heartlands of Ireland!

John a from Sligo

I have now completed the Royal Canal trail section from Fureys pub Moyvallley to Abbeyshrule I must say a very enjoyable cycle with a trex hybrid bike, on the Meath section to Mullingar signage needs to be improved lack of storyboards with milage details from Mullingar to Abbeyshrule this is rectified massively the trail surface is great and I can see it being a major success, I intend to complete route to Clondara, Tarmonbarry in the next couple of weeks, I see a potential for coffee stops near some of the locks Ballincarrigy or Hill of Downs, at present very quiet on the trail

Paul from Dublin

I did the Royal Canal Way for a second time in August 2018. As ever it's beautiful and well worth doing. I travelled from Dublin to Longford by train and cycled to Cloondara to start the trail. It took me about six hours to cycle along the canal to Mullingar where I stayed the night in the lovely Lough Owel Lodge B&B (about 4km north of the canal). On the second day I cycled from Mullingar to Dublin in about seven hours.

A few points are worth mentioning to others looking to do it.

Most of the trail is good solid track and easy and quick to cycle on. However there are a few sections where it's better to take the road, as cycling on a rough grassy trail is draining. I'd skip from Castleknock to Leixlip (most of it is very poor, some hazardous); the section from Kilcock to Enfield; and the shorter section from Blackwater to Moyvalley (Fuery's pub).

Irish Waterways have done great work on the Royal Canal Way and hopefully these last few stretches will be done before long. It's a lovely trail and well worth doing.

Des from Dublin

Cycled from Cross Guns to Mullingar today 18/Jul on a road bike.

After the recent good weather everything is very dry, so no issues on the unpaved sections.

Most bits are in good tarmac or blinded stone. Some sections (deep sinking, Kilcock to enfield, and a short section near Moyvalley ) are grass/dirt. Only the section near Moyvalley is impassable meaning a detour onto the road for about 2km, but they're actively working on it.

Great day, and the train back to Dublin is quite good too.

Padraic from Waterford

Cycled all the way to Longford to From Clonsilla. Paved all the way except for about 3kms of grassy path from Clonsilla (no problem in dry weather), 2 kilometres west of Enfield (works precluded cycling, rough stones and), and lastly had to join main road for 3kms east of Fureys pub. Accommodation was a problem, had booked accommodation at Mary Lynches pub but on arrival found it dirty, noisy from motorway and no secure bike facilitates, so we didn't stay and continued to Mullingar which was too far. It was a beautiful cycle, no traffic or noise, beautiful unspoilt pastoral landscapes and fine cycling surface....will be doing it again, most enjoyable.

Seán from Dublin

I have walked sections of the trail.

The map of each section should show the length of the stage, in kms. This will help users who are not used to dealing with Ordinance Survey maps to plan their time.

Have you done this trail?
Tell us what you think