I completed part one of this walk quite some time ago and have been itching to get this section completed. Mullingar is a milestone of sorts… a mental challenge. This is where the summit level reaches it’s apex. At the feeder from Lough Owel the water flow changes direction and heads off toward the Shannon.
But… I jump the gun. I first had to get from my last stopping point to the town. A unilateral family decision concluded that the bus would be my transport of choice out of Enfield. So… off I went to the bus stop. The third bus driver to stop in the village agreed to do an unscheduled stop at the footbridge. On I hopped and by 3 o’clock I was standing on the foot bridge.
I recall muttering something in Part one about the bridge serving no purpose… well, it sure got me across the canal. I retract that unfounded error. So… as the bridge had done for me what it was designed for… I could get a crack on and head toward Mullingar town.
It was a blustery, cool (read cold) afternoon. The threat of rain ever-present. I was soon past the point where I had turned back on the previous walk. This was new territory… never seen by me before… as they say in the classics… virgin territory! New land… new challenges… new conquests!!
The canal passes through open countryside… whole sections elevated above the plain… only, at one point one notices a change of landscape. By the time you reach the Baltrasna Bridge you are fully into the cutting. This cutting also resulted in an expensive delays and additional costs during construction. The sheer rock surfaces are visible in many places. One or two may well offer a great mooring place in the future… I made a mental note to stop off and have a BBQ on one of the outcrops when I eventually get to do the route by barge.
A little before I arrived at the bridge I met the first ‘group’ of walkers. So, I wasn’t the only fool out walking on such a blustery day. The lady stopped for a brief chat… her two dogs happily messing along the path… chasing virtual rabbits in their minds and along the secret runs among the grass verges.
Not long after passing the bridge I met the second ‘group’. This time their leader protested vehemently (as mentioned in Monday’s post)… he did not appreciate strangers on his towpath! I paused and chatted with the little fella’s minder. Soon after they disappeared around the bend the next structure comes into view. The Mullingar Bypass bridge passes high overhead. (Not shown on the IWAI on-line charts, which I’m again using for this post.)
Not far past this bridge I was fortunate to find the next feature along the canal. If we had not had rain earlier in the week I may well have missed the ‘Pig’s nostrils’ as it is known. The steady trickle of water alerted me to the feature… well down the bank and hidden by the summer growth.
I can well imagine the rock lintels and uprights vaguely resembling a pig’s nose… runny at times… not quite the most sublime image. The area immediately adjacent to the nostrils was flattened down a bit by fishermen… so, it was a perfect spot for a break. The fishermen left an almost full tin of sweetcorn behind… quite fresh by the looks of it… I emptied the contents into the canal… hoping to attract fish to watch while I rested.
Soon the next stroller came along. The lady must have seen me and decided to turn back for she made a u-turn and headed back along the path toward Mullingar. She was hardly on her way when the next ‘group’ appeared… what was going on here? This was now the 4th party and still no men, or boys in sight… discounting our male 4 legged friends, that is.
I eventually scrambled up the bank to continue the onward trek. Mullingar or bust… that was my motto for the moment. Not long past the next bend I glimpsed a steeple… and many wires crossing the canal… the outskirts of the town. And then… the first male walkers… whoopy! Not all the men seemed to be watching the rugby. The steeple disappeared from view, hidden by the vegetation. The next old canal structure being Saunders Bridge. An attractive crossing, lost among the modern infrastructure.
This is the point where the canal starts it’s horseshoe around the town. Looks to me like the main part of the town sits in a depression so walking the towpath allows for glimpses of the sights below. The cathedral being the main point of focus.
Many interesting items are to be seen… I think the gallery will give you a feel for the place… from the restored ‘mini’ harbour shortly after Saunders Bridge. The commemorative ‘pole’ saying quite a lot… 1806 to 2006… again I only marvel at the accomplishment of those folk in days gone by.
On I walked… the smooth (and hard) tar towpath wide enough to accommodate a car. The vistas to the left… the twin steeples of the cathedral seems to be the centre of the circle… the grand designers must have placed the compass point on that spot and then drafted the arc that was to become the canal…
I walked further on the day but as I’ve now already waffled on for hours I’ll end this post with my arrival at the impressive Mullingar harbour. There’s much to see in the area. I’ll want to return and walk both sides of the bank… look-see. There’s even a real set of lock gates… a quick reminder that whatever direction you go you’ll have to apply a little muscle along the way…
And… as has now become the norm for my gallery posts… the Ed’s Note: – Click on the first photo to enlarge… then use the scroll arrows below the pics to work your way through the trip… if you could be bothered!! 😛