Walking / Cycling


Ribbontail Bridge

Ribbontail Bridge Longwood

The canal and its towpath is 145 km long, and runs from the River Liffey in Dublin to Cloondara on the Shannon, with an 8 km branch line into the town of Longford. Along the length of the canal there are 46 sets of locks (including the sea lock in Dublin). The first 26 raises the waterway to a height of 94m at its summit near Mullingar. The main feeder for the canal, Lough Owel is also just west of Mullingar. There are a number of aqueducts spanning the canal, the most spectacular of which is over the M50 at Blanchardstown with others over the River Blackwater, the Boyne and River Inny.

All 145 km of towpath is ideal for walking. Indeed, individuals and groups regularly walk the full length of the canal over a number of days. For example, six people walked the full length of the canal, from Clondra on the Shannon to the Liffey in Dublin over four days in April 2015 (see news item Walking in the Footsteps of the Missing 1,490).

To calculate the distance between various points along the canal, click Distance Table .

Mary Lynch's

Mary Lynch’s, McNead’s Bridge (click picture for info)

Along its length, the canal can be accessed from public transport, so for the less energetic, rail or bus transport can be used as a means to extend and explore various sections of the ‘Royal Canal Way’. For those who wish to walk the full length of the canal over five consecutive days, there are options for overnight accommodation in the towns and villages adjacent to the canal. There are also some unique establishments along the waterway where refreshments can be taken in idyllic surroundings.


Inny River lodge Ballynacargy, click picture for details

Towns and villages along the canal (click town for details) Dublin City and county; Leixlip; Maynooth; Kilcock; Enfield; Hill of Down; Thomastown/Killucan; MullingarBallynacargy;  Abbeyshrule; BallymahonLongford; Kenagh; Killashee; Cloondara.

Richmond Inn

Richmond Inn Clondara, click picture for info

Enhance your experience of walking the canal, with a Guide to the Royal Canal. It contains maps and a wealth of local information and is available to buy on-line at our RCAG Shop).

Maps of the ‘Royal Canal Way’ are also available for Download on the National Trails Office website, however they are not as detailed as those in the Guide to the Royal Canal.

You will also find useful information on the Westmeath and Longford section of the canal at Longford to Cloondara and  Westmeath Interactive Map Also for information on the towpath upgrading program see Royal Canal Way

For details of five short walks between Dublin and Maynooth, Peter Clarke’s book Walking the Royal Canal is highly recommended. In addition to maps of the walks, it contains local information with historical overviews of both the canal and its environs. The book is available in selected book shops in Dublin and Kildare or at RCAG Shop.


Although sections of the towpath in Dublin city centre are inaccessible, routes along the canal in the Dublin area are generally well surfaced and suitable for cycling. They provide an off-road link between the city centre and the suburbs. They also have the advantage of having bus and rail services within easy reach.

DSCF2042Heading westward the rural nature of the canal becomes more apparent with a mixture of well surfaced towpaths and completed greenways suitable for cycling, to sections where it is only possible to walk.

However, when the Royal Canal Way is completed it will offer a first-class off-road cycling link from the Liffey to the Shannon. See Royal Canal Way for latest on the upgrading program