I think I’ll always remember this part of my walk from the Liffey for the wrong reason. I was totally drenched by the time I arrived at the 12th Lock. There is much to enjoy along this section of the canal. After leaving the tightness of the inner city and the tall old buildings of the 6th Lock the area around the canal opens up a little more.
The vistas to the north show the Dublin outer city sprawl… aircraft can be seen coming and going, although Dublin International is not visible the air traffic sure is. Closer to the canal is the large expanse of the Glasnevin Cemetery. There’s a round tower in or near the grounds… seems to be a beacon to draw the living to the place of the dead.
About half way to the 7th Lock the housing on the south bank is replaced by industrial and commercial buildings and after passing a few cottages on the north bank it’s soon the same on the north bank. Some distance after leaving the cottages behind and rounding a bend the railroad and the canal again cross paths. The rail line now switches to the south bank… and here it stays all the way to the Shannon.
By now the weather I’d been eyeing with much suspicion was starting to get too close for comfort. This is where the umbrella up… umbrella down routine gets a little bothersome… but… as I’ve said before… I need the umbrella to help protect my little camera. After passing the 7th Lock the industrial area seems to stretch away forever. Not too pretty, but then… these areas have a role to play in any city of note. Soon I pass the Broome Bridge and the station. I stop to watch a solitary swan glide serenely beneath the bridge… also see a very noisy flock of starlings roosting on a communications mast… I wonder how long they’ll live… how long they’ll stay fertile… well, would you want to hang around all that radio magnetic energy all night? Me? No!
The next obstacle along the path is the messy road crossing over the Reilly’s Bridge. It’s a tight chicane that any race track would be proud of… pity the walker needs to dodge across. There is a foot bridge… but that only seems to be for crossing the canal and rail tracks… it may well be possible to cross and then backtrack to the towpath… as I say, messy on such tight bends with almost no sidewalk. Once across the road the 8th and 9th Locks are rapidly passed.
After the 9th lock is reached the relatively new area of development on the north bank comes into view. This section of the towpath was very well used… the rain had abated and folk were out… hoping for a good afternoon’s fun in the sun. I’m afraid I have to be a woe-sayer… if they had stayed out for much more than 30 minutes longer they would have been very wet!
The area around the 10th Lock is very busy. The Ashtown Station is accessed from the north bank via a good-looking new-ish footbridge, the level crossing is still manned… large red and white booms restrict the road traffic across the Longford Bridge when the trains go by. I have a feeling the boom operators are kept rather busy. Just south of the rail line is an imposing old stone building… its state of disrepair becoming more noticeable as time goes by. I recall in my days of commuting along this line some 2 years ago that the east face of the facade carried and imposing clock or sun-dial high up… under the eaves. Now only a ragged circular hole is evident…
There’s a cottage plonked in between the rail line and the lock… there’s a cottage just north of the lock… there’s a fine harbour and some eateries to the east of the bridge… the area seems alive… the population is the area is young. After a short pause for a look around at the area I get going again… ever neared the impending downpour. The north bank is tree-lined all the way to the 11th Lock… I believe a golf course sits happily behind the green screen.
The Phoenix Park Station is soon visible on the south bank and not much later the road signs for the new M50/ N3 junction are all too evident. One is hardly past the 11th Lock and its cottage when the tangle of road, rail and canal concrete structures fills the horizon… a rain splattered vista at this stage. A lonely jogger comes trotting by… mad… he has to be mad! Dwarfed among all this concrete is the little old stone bridge that must have once been the grand portal to the yonder distant hinterland of Tara…
Now the rain is pelting down… all I want to do is get past the 12th Lock and onto a train at Castleknock. Lo and behold… after crossing the aqueduct the canal makes a left sweep and I spot water arching out of the open sluice… water… more water… am I happy to see that lock gate! I’m soon across Talbot Bridge again… stopping for a few minutes to chat with the skipper of the Wilderness Wanderer… they’re the only souls around… apart from all the revelers enjoying their Saturday afternoon under the shelter at the restaurant… noisy bunch… make me jealous! What I wouldn’t have given for a juicy steak and a few tall glass of red stuff… ah well… nobody asked the semi-drowned canal walker in… maybe next time!
Ed’s Note: Click on the first photo to enlarge and then use the scroll arrows beneath the photos to navigate through the gallery. Unfortunately, for most of this part of the walk we’re back to grey skies… and lots of liquid Irish summer sunshine!
Ed’s Final Note: The umbrella featured in some of the photo’s is the one I disposed of a few week’s later… stupid me… it was my favorite umbrella…