Mullingar is probably the best place in Ireland for outdoor walking and cycling. Today in glorious sunshine I walked the Royal Canal line from Pipers Boreen in Mullingar ( where the piper used to play to announce to the town – the arrival of another boatload of goods from Dublin) – past Saundersons Bridge – under the new bridge for the Southern Bypass ( nearest road point – The Newtown roundabout) and on to Baltrasna Bridge.
A bright sunny spring afternoon – the towpath is very walkable ( and cycleable) from Mullingar and you can continue on to Killucan, Enfield, Leixlip if you have the time. But this was an afternoon stroll listening to the sounds of the birds – enjoying the natural shades of green from trees, fauna and grasses all along the high banks of the Royal canal – occasionally hearing the roar of mini waterfalls from streams that feed into the canal, creating waves on the otherwise clear waters with a smooth glassy surface.
The peace and quiet is what I most enjoyed – occasionally meeting walkers and cyclists moving both direction. A few minutes chill out time on a well placed seat at Baltrasna bridge – allowed me take in the natural sounds that are absent from my everyday life.
The only interruption from nature was a Waterways Ireland truck and its driver doing some clearance of drains along the canal bank. I cannot praise enough the effort put in by Waterways Ireland not alone in maintaining this section of the Royal Canal but so many amenities that we can all enjoy for free. To view some of the work being done by waterways Ireland in this area visit http://baltrasnaboreenbiodiversity.blogspot.com
I crossed the Baltrasna Bridge and turned immediately left ( almost a u turn – but just changing to the other bank of the Canal and started my walk back in the Mullingar direction. This area is called the “High Bank” aptly named as you look far down on the waters of the canal – but it is also a bio diversity area and I so much look forward to being there later in the year when the flora and fauna are in full bloom.
Despite the sunshine – there is no footpath on this side of the canal ( well not at least till you are at least half way back to Mullingar) and a better choice of footwear would have been boots as I ambled through a grassy path -surrounded by trees, shrubs and the canal on my left to easily guide me back to the town of Mullingar. For more information on this unique area check out the Baltrasna Biodiversity Groups facebook page https://www.facebook.com/baltrasnaboreen/
Really is lots to see in this area, just by taking your time and looking around you.
This is just a small section of the Royal Canal Way that stretches from Dublin to the River Shannon and Mullingar is an ideal spot to either start ( or break your journey) whether walking or cycling – and you can enjoy the Royal canal in small snippets or a few days from start to finish.
As I returned close to Mullingar a cyclist stopped to chat and I found out he lives in Drumcondra in Dublin, took the train to Enfield with his bicycle and was finishing his cycle into Mullingar and planning to take the train back to Drumcondra. Its great to see more people starting to enjoy the wonderful outdoor facilities of which Mullingar is the centre of.
From Mullingar you can choose to follow the Canal to Abbeyshrule or change onto the old railway track to Athlone – so you have many choices to start new walks or cycles with Mullingar as your base.