Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Posts tagged ‘The Barrow Way’

Goresbridge to Graiguenamanagh

One of the most beautiful off road cycle – hiking routes in Ireland!

Last night was just an amazing evening to spend a few hours on the Barrow Track. I’ve added the drone footage above and a few photos to this post I previously wrote some years ago about this stretch of the river.

 

Ballykeenan Lock

Hanging Gardens Of Graiguenamanagh

Hanging Gardens Of Graiguenamanagh

Ballingrane

Ballykeenan Lock

Ballykeenan Lock

River Barrow and Brandon Hill

Pave it or Save it?

It’s only 30 kms from Goresbridge to Graiguenamangh, return journey, along the banks of the Barrow but it takes a lot longer than expected as there is so much to see!
The river wanders between steep wooded hillsides of ancient oak, ash, scots pine and conifer on its path to the sea.
It seems to have its own micro climate. Lush and green.

And it’s only by walking it or cycling it that one can truly appreciate why there is such controversy about paving this most wonderful natural walkng / cycling route.

My favourite section to cycle, the grassy towpath is smooth underneath apart from the odd disturbance where the roots of trees protrude and progress would be swift if it were not for the constant stopping and starting to marvel at the stunning scenery or to ponder the many historical sites along the way. The hurlers of Mt Leinster Rangers favour this section too for their pre season fitness training!

There are 6 locks on this section of the river – Lower Ballyellin, Ballytiglea, Borris, Ballingrane, Clashganny and Ballykeenan. In times past the lock keepers lived alongside in the adjoining cottages; some are now used as pretty holiday homes. If there are locks there are weirs and the trip southwards is often accompanied to the sound of water cascading over them, the only sound to be heard.
The river is dotted with some massive rocks in this section which are more visible than usual thanks to the dry summer we have had. Elusive herons favour them as isolated perches to rest upon.


Ballytiglea Bridge has five arches and is the access point from Borris to the Track. It is one of the most used access points and you are almost certain to bump in to local fishermen, walkers or swimmers once you pass under the arch. Yesterday I met one lady, who I often meet, that favours a spot about 500 meters south of the bridge for a daily swim.
Borris house is close by but its view is obscured by the dense cover of oak and ash trees on the estate. The ancestral home of the McMurrough Kavanagh clan was established in Brehon times and is still occupied by the Kavanagh family. It is one of the few Irish estates that can trace its history back to the royal families of ancient Ireland. The house and Borris village are worthy of a visit in their own right.


A humped back bridge spans the Mountain River which borders the estate is one of my favourite stopping points; it’s a quiet spot and entertainment today was provided by playful otters and lightning fast kingfishers who are just a blur of blue as they fly past at incredible speed just above the water line.
The last day down here I took a photo or a boat wreck and jokingly referred to Jack Sparrow. Today I sheltered during a rain shower under a canopy of trees closer to Ballingrane Lock where an unfortunate sparrow must have mistaken the reflection in the water as being the sky and crashed in and shuddered to a halt. The poor thing flapped furiously but hadn’t the strength to emerge and quickly drowned and floated away.

Island at Ballykeenan Lock

For the second successive trip I came across people camping on the river bank, this time beside the ruin of the lock cottage. A lovely secluded place to pitch tent.
The iconic photograph of the Barrow is taken from above Clashganny Lock and shows the lock, lock house and the weir from above the tree line of the steeply banked sides of the river. Its one of the few spots on any river where a lifeguard is employed doing the summer months such is its popularity with swimmers. It’s a great spot for canoeing too and Charlie Horan’ of Go With The Flow, has really helped promote use of the river and an appreciation of its history and beauty to holidaymakers and day trippers alike.

Have to say i was chuffed to pass two ladies and one of them to call after me ‘ are you the fella wrote the book?! I had to stop and chat and I was delighted with the reaction to ‘Cycling South Leinster, Great Road Routes’.
Shortly after Clash is the only double lock on the Barrow navigation, Ballykeenan. Behind the island at Ballykeenan Lock is a unique historical link with the rivers past. The monks of Duiske Abbey prized the salmon and eel fisheries of the Barrow and they created eel fisheries on the river in the 13th century. They are still visible 800 years later. Worth seeing!
Its a short spin down to Graigue from here and the surface is good and the scenery spectacular.

Eel Fishery Ballykeenan

Graigue is another great village along the river to visit and explore. But I had to retrace my way to Goresbridge and photograph a few more interesting places!

Approaching Graiguenamanagh

Rush Hour on the Barrow

Carlow Rowers are the true custodians of the Barrow in Carlow Town. Love their dedication and commitment to their sport and their long association with the Barrow, Ireland’s second longest river.

So good to get back on the bike and have a little spin along a true Greenway, the River Barrow.

Looking at the rowers from above, they remind me of the pondskaters that we see skating along the surface along the river bank!

It is really is a true Greenway.

Barrow Greenway

Shrule Castle on the banks of the Barrow

All that remains of the Sugar Factory – the Limekiln

The Barrow Blueway turned down by An Bord Pleanála

One of the reasons cited by An Bord Pleanála for refusing WWI permission for the Barrow Blueway was on grounds of safety.
A lot of people supported the project for very good reasons – improving tourist numbers in the county and boosting the local economy.

However the concept of a cycle path along the banks of the River Barrow had a number of flaws, safety being one.
What many people did not understand was how narrow the Track is over extended distances.
An increase in cycling numbers, of the magnitude attracted to the Waterford Greenway, would have presented a serious safety risk to other users. (WWI mentioned 100,000…)

I was videoing my cycle down the River one glorious summers day in 2018 when I chanced upon a large group of hikers.
As you can see it was impossible to pass the group and that is one of the beautiful things about the Track as it currently is configure. Cyclists have to go slow. It is a slow way.
Lots of people had the vision of opening up the route to cyclists, families with push buggies and wheel chair users. It would have been irresponsible and dangerous.

I hope this video helps people understand one of the many grounds for refusing permission for the Blueway.

It needs to be rethought now so that the Rover can indeed become a major attraction.
What about investing heavily in the river frontage in all the villages, similar to the beautiful linear park in Carlow Town, creating hubs to explore the region and the Barrow Way?
There are so many attractions along the river and close by that good tourist infrastructure and attractive villages could open up to a wider appeal.
We don’t need the crowds of the Wild Atlantic Way, a more authentic Ireland has its own unique attraction!

 

The Barrow Way

An Bord Pleanála have refused permission for the controversial Barrow Blueway. Waterways Ireland have been unsuccessful in their attempt to overturn the decision of Carlow County Council.

The Barrow Track is a narrow green corridor that stretches from Athy to St Mullins., much of it is an area of special conservation. You could say it our National Park.

The proposal was very controversial and was debated passionately on both sides of the argument.

In an era where the checks and balances of democracies are under threat this was a great example of democracy at work. Those checks and balances functioned and I think the proposal received a fair hearing before a decision was arrived at.

There was never any need for the vitriol that polluted so much of social media commentary around the issue; the argument had to stand or fall on its merits and it did.

I don’t believe any of the opponents of the Blueway were anti-development rather they were pro the right development. We all want to promote our County, grow tourism, create jobs and livelihoods and the development of the river should not now be ignored. Let a new inclusive process begin and create an acceptable solution.

The Western Greenway and the Waterford Greenway are the two most successful in the country, there are others that have not achieved the same traction. Both these Greenways took many years to plan and become ‘an overnight success’.

Both are along the route of old disused railway lines. Guess what? We have a disused railway line running almost parallel to the River Barrow. If they can be brought into use elsewhere surely the same can happen here….

Here are some of my favourite photos taken on my many spins along the Barrow Way over the past few years.

Barrow CycleBarrow TrackOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Barrow evening

Near Ballytiglea

2012-09-03 at 14-11-34Evening on the Slaney

Mary at Ballytiglea Lock

Mary at Ballytiglea Lock

Rowing Club

Evening time on the Barrow

Barrow in Flood 2015-12-29 (3)

Swans at Carlow

Barrow in Flood 2015-12-29 (9)Carlow in Flood 2015-12-30 (1)

ballyellin

Peace

bend-in-the-barrow

Perfect for cycling as it is!!

Barrow Cyclists

Barrow Cyclists

Heron Landing

Heron Landing

Grassy weir

Grassy Knoll!

Heron Graiguenamanagh

Heron Watch

Wild FlowersTropical Barrow

One man and his dog3

Not the Rockies, south Carlow

Milestone

2 Ballingrane Lock

Beautiful stone cottage at Carriglead

2 Tinnahinch Lower

Ballykeenan Lock

Cormorants take flight

Comorants take flight

Ballykeenan Lock

Under the Beech Tree

Under the Beech Tree

Barrow and the Blackstairs

Barrow and the Blackstairs

Clashganny Hut

Shelter from the rain at Clashganney

Ballytiglea Lock Gates and the River Barrow

Ballytiglea Lock Gates and the River Barrow

Lower Ballyellin

Lower Ballyellin

Ballytiglea

Ballytiglea

The Barrow between Lower Ballyellin and Ballytiglea

I particularly like the section of the Barrow Way from the Lower Ballyellin Cut to Ballytiglea Bridge. This section has a really good level grass surface, although I notice Waterways ireland ‘maintenance works’ have begun to provide a ‘washerboard’ effect on what was a pristine surface for walking and cycling…. The river meanders through fertile farm land and some lovely wooded sections.

There are a number of weirs and there are lots of herons and cormorants nesting in this area and there is a great isolated perch mid river on a huge granite boulder.

Its a great place to do a 10km walk, starting in Goresbridge as far as Ballytiglea bridge and back along a very quiet section of the river.

Ballytiglea Lock Gates and the River Barrow

Ballytiglea

Lower Ballyellin

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