Sunday was a momentous occasion for me. As I’ve been prattling on for almost half the year now about walking the Grand Canal you’re all fully aware of my quest. But… to put it mildly… it’s all good and well to want to do something and never quite get there. After last year’s higgledy-piggeldy walking of the Royal Canal my planning was to do the length of the Grand sequentially.
The only concern I had about completing the walk was the reminder of my disappointment when I reached the end of the Royal Canal at Richmond Harbour, only to see no sight of what I perceived to be the prize… seeing the Shannon. I now know the canal opens up into the Camden River which in turn allows access to the Shannon. The thing is… when I wanted to see the Shannon on that occasion I had to walk a roundabout way by road to cross over the bridge at Tarmonbarry…
On Sunday’s walk however, the good lady and granddad beat me to the endpoint by about 59 seconds… allowing me to catch up with them in the car park at Shannon Harbour. What a pleasure… I could ditch the backpack, the woolly windbreaker… and the new, snazzy umbrella I’d carried for the last 12 miles of the challenge. With just the camera slung around my neck and the last of the fliers I set off to find Lock 36… the last obstacle.
But again, upon reaching the end of the Grand Canal, I could not see the river. I crossed over to the other bank, which is also a bit of a tradition, to hand a flier to a couple on one of the boats. I asked about access to the Shannon. Stick to the left bank, they suggested… there’s a derelict cottage one needs to circumnavigate at the end of the channel and then one will be at the Shannon.
I said as much to the good lady and set off… soon out of sight. There was a cruiser approaching so I rang the good lady… thinking the boat was heading for the lock. No, she wouldn’t be able to get photo’s… her curiosity had got the better of her so she was following me. I stopped and waited a few minutes for her to catch up.
Soon we were at the faded ’Private Property’ hand painted sigh hanging off the dilapidated fence. We could see something in the distance… we wanted to get there so we did the unthinkable. Yep… we jumped the fence… like two bold school children up to mischief. Forbidden ground always seems a tad more interesting… does it not?
We stood at the junction of the channel and the river… wishing we owned the bit of land. I could picture myself lounging around in the sunshine… entertaining guests… throwing a few steaks on the coals… sipping a bit of the red stuff while watching the sun set over the river… idyllic… dreamlike idyllic!!
Oh well… every journey has an end… every trip a destination. We dreamed aloud for a few minutes later before making our escape… the pull of the spell couldn’t last much longer. Reality beckoned. Even so… I’d reached the end of Leinster, again… this time I’d seen the prize… without having to cross a bridge or leave the water’s edge!