Thursday 9 April 2015

Walking the Royal Canal - Episode III - Ferran’s Lock to Enfield

I’m struggling very hard against making an Episode III Star Wars reference here. I should have written this last October when I walked this section but frankly it was so dull and soul destroying that I gave up on it and it nearly put me off the whole Royal Canal. In hindsight I think I was just having a bad day, but it is a fairly dull very flat section. I needed to get this out though as it is the only section missing on the blog of the route from the coast.

Ferran’s lock marks the start of an extremely long level section that stretches all the way to Thomastown 32km off to the west. This is a 9km section broken by a single bridge about half way along at Cloncurry where the path switches over to the north bank.

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The starting area at Ferran’s lock ( the 17th Lock) is pretty nice, with some parking spots, a small picnic area and this odd building that might be something to do with Waterways Ireland but it’s not really all that obvious what it’s about.

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The surface is grassy towpath that follows the southern bank of the canal from this point. When I walked it in late autumn there were long stretches that were fairly well cut up by what I suspect was mostly farm traffic and horses that were grazing near Cloncurry bridge. The highlight of this 4km section was a bunch of cows and a few guys out fishing who thought I was completely mad.

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The patch changes sides at this point but is still grass. With some mud. It’s fine for walking to be honest but this section is one of the few where I’d say you really would want a proper mountain bike if you were planning to cycle it.

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From here there’s a 5km section that takes you (eventually) into Enfield. I spent a rather fruitless hour or so chasing this heron along the way. As ever with herons when they decide to be annoying they can really pile it on. Every time I just about got the perfect shot he’d quickly turn away and gracefully fly a few hundred meters further down the canal. Wash, rinse and repeat. I got about 30 shots like these of him departing. Very pretty to watch but quite depressing from a photography perspective. IT wasn’t helped by the light either, it was very dull. Yeah I know, excuses, excuses. Oh well.

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Enfield couldn’t come up soon enough. This is the main road bridge on the western side of the village. You have to cross the road here and it comes as a bit of a surprise as you are more less in the village at this point but you don’t realise it when you are down at the canal level.

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I was so irritated on the day that I didn’t stop at all, I just took a quick scan around the village and turned back. In hindsight that was a mistake and I should have just carried on for a few hundred meters as the next section ( The Harvest Walk) is one of the prettiest sections of canal I’ve come across.

On the plus side this is a fairly short section and it is probably a lot more interesting in spring or summer time.

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