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

Anthony from Kildare

I finished running the length of the Royal Canal to Clondara on Sunday May 6th 2018. Started on January 20th at Spencer Dock and ran it over 14 stages, some long and some short. A fantastic experience! Apart from Coolmine to Castleknock and Ferrans Lock to Cloncurrry (improvement work looks like starting this year) the trail is perfect for running. Logistics to get back to my car involved public transport at the start (as far as Enfield), lifts from friends and relatives in the middle and the last 44km I walked back to the car at the end of each stage. I would recommend the experience to anyone!


John from Kildare

Cycled the stretch from Kilmore Bridge to Enfield on a Brompton 15th March 2018. Plenty of evidence of work going on and some very coarse stones made life tricky for those little wheels. Accessed Enfield Harbour, which is a peaceful spot and doesn't appear to get many visitors, which is a shame given the work which has been put into it.

Looking West from Kilmore Bridge looks very undeveloped.

James from Meath

Recently been riding parts of this trail (2018) and from Maynooth Harbour to the spillway beyond spin bridge is now a proper greenway with a smooth wide surface suitable for most wheeled transport. The barriers have been removed and replaced with angled gates that are left open. Not perfect but a vast improvement. Beyond the spillway towards Ferrans Lock (over a narrow wooden bridge ) the surface is coarser stone and will probably be surfaced with finer fill soon. After this the surface is rough grass track on the south bank all the way to Cloncurry bridge. Here the trail switches again to the North bank and seems to be shared for a few hundred meters with motor traffic. A new greenway then brings you all the way to Enfield station where the surface reverts to rough grass for the last part to the N4. There were several small trees blocking the path as of 8/1/18 but I was able to wheel my bike around. Crossing the road stay on south bank and this will bring you to the Blackwater aqueduct . There are signs saying path closed, but lots of cycles and walkers and no construction work. After aqueduct the surface is rough and uneven but looks like its been prepared for improvement works and at the next bridge there is construction work ongoing which appears to be completing the last section of the north bank which will bring you to Fury's Pub on the N4. I also have walked the section from Longwood Harbour to Hill of Down and this too has been upgraded to Greenway quality. Free carpark at Longwood harbour. Beyond here the bank seems to be Tarmacked which will bring you to Darcys Bridge. From here I know that it is properly surfaced all the way to Athlone or to near Abbey Shrule. Looking forward to summer when most works should be completed.


david from Dublin

Cycled the 22km to/from Intel's Leixlip campus last Friday.

Track from cross guns bridge to Blanchardstown was in very good state with an even surface and no debris

There is quite a bit of oncoming traffic in terms of bikes and pedestrians coming into the city but the path is generally wide enough to allow passage in opposite directions simultaneously

After the M50 flyover which is pretty spectacular the path transitions to grass which was quite muddy and slippery in the frosty November weather but manageable if quite slippery but there was nobody coming from the other side with the exception of a few dog walkers

The section before Coolmine station was very difficult with lots of rocks and tree roots on a very narrow path with a steep up to 7-8m drop

Certainly not for the faint hearted and the tires on my tricross bike both succumbed forcing me to take the train from Coolmine to Luisa Bridge

On the way back I cycled as far as Coolmine after fixing my punctures and the path was grassy, muddy and very slippery but manageable with my light as the track was unlight

I then went on road from Coolmine to Blandchardstown where again I took the cycle path into town

The Coolmine section is best avoided or walked unless you are an experienced mountain biker


Isla from Longford

Took the bike on the Abbeyshrule to Ballynacarrigy section today. Signage spotty here also, sign pointed me the wrong way at one point when a bridge crossing was required instead (there are tracks on both sides in places). Surface good, some tarmac, some fine gravel, crossing points ok, though the one opposite Abbeyshrule Airfield isnt the best designed. Obviously quite flat, scenery doesnt vary a great deal. A pleasant 18km round trip nonetheless.

Isla from Longford

I walked the Trail from Clondra to Longford on Sunday 24th September 2017. The surface was good and the path wide. There was no sign at Killashee to indicate I needed to change sides, and also on the second crossing of the N63 heading into Longford, another unsigned change was required.

The first three miles of the Longford branch in this direction are not as attractive as the canal itself is very overgrown, but it improves as you get nearer the town. Parking is easily available in Clondra. In Longford the nearest access point is in a housing estate but there is ample parking in the town if you continue on a little past the end, to the old end of the canal (Rear Market Square), or slightly closer at the train station.

Dominic from Westmeath

Cycled the complete Royal canal from Drumcondra to Cloondara in Longford on a CX bike with a couple of mates. Then cycled to longford to get the evening train back. 158km into a headwind. took 10 hours. Had to go on to main roads briefly as upgrade works happening in Meath.

Vincent from Dublin

I cycled from the Convention Centre in Dublin to Enfield today.

My experience is as follows:

a) you need a bicycle with plenty of gears, due to the various surfaces of the trail. My bike is commuter bike, with mid width tyres and 24 gears.

b) I left the convention centre at 10.00am, had a 1 hour break for early lunch at Maynooth, and arrived at Enfield at about 14.45.

c) In some places it is necessary to pass through mud which went right over the rim of my wheel. Most of the muddy sections are very short.

d) Many sections are not suitable for children.

e) I did not see one boat on the canal moving.

f) I met about 6 cyclists, and a good number of walkers.

g) The scenery, flora and fauna were beautiful, except for the two geese opposite the entrance to Carton House, who tried to eat my tyres.

h) The only places to stop for a meal are Maynooth and Kilcock.

Cathal from Dublin

The summary mentions three days to do the trail - I've walked it and five days is about as good as most people would manage in comfort on foot, maybe four for the very fit. A lovely gentle walk away from traffic noise, apart from Maynooth-Dublin.

Su from Antrim

I cycled from Maynooth to Mullingar - with a couple of friends a couple of years ago and was not expecting the path to be so rough up to the Westmeath border. The recent comments on this site make that much clearer so that is good. I now would like to do the Dublin section and so need to know when the surfaced path runs out?? I'm planning to start at the Samuel Beckett Bridge. I would then like to do the whole of the Westmeath section as the surface there is very easy and I will be bringing (at least) two teenagers, are there any good camping grounds or B&Bs at the end of that section (Abbeyshrule?)Note to reviewers – if you have a question rather than a review you can email your question to so that we can repond directly to you. The review system is for comments about a trail where you are not expecting a response.There is still not much change in the surface along the Royal Canal apart from the whole section in Co.Westmeath which is surfaced from the Westmeath border to Abbyeshrule in Co. Longford and easy to cycle. Funding has been awarded by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport to complete the sections in Counties Kildare and Meath and also a section in Longford from Abbeyshrule to Longford Bridge, Ballymahon.  Funding for the completion of the Dublin sections was also announced by the National Transport Authority in March this year although that work has not been completed yet.To answer your question “when the surfaced path runs out on the Dublin section”. Once you get to Castleknock train station the surfaced path ends. That said there are further short sections surfaced from there westwards but nothing continuous. It is definetly only suitable for a mountain bike and even at that it will be hard work – especially if the weather has been wet.Regarding the Westmeath section ending in Abbeyshrule,  I’m afraid we don’t have details of accommodation in that area so we’d suggest you research that through the usual websites for accommodation.

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