On Sunday last, Gary and I reverted to type, and took to the towpaths of Kildare for more running alongside a canal. It’s a thing. Possibly an affliction. Certainly in the realms of addiction. But always good to get out. Our early start on Sunday morning was going to plan until a small medical emergency meant we had to make a small diversion to help a friend in need. That matter resolved, we went on our way towards Robertstown.
Avid readers of this blog (you should all be sectioned) will know my canal of choice is the Royal, and not the Grand, which flows through Robertstown, well to the south of my home. That’s purely a matter of geography, though, as the Royal passes north around the town of Leixlip where I live. Both canals were built in the late 1700s/early 1800s, and both suffered a rapid decline not long after they opened, thanks to the advent of the railway.
We arrived in Robertstown after nine and parked near the bridge. This was the start point for an epic adventure some years ago when Saoirse and I took on the 120kms of the Barrow Way. And you can read that story here, if you wish. We headed west and soon arrived at the junction at Lowtown where the canal splits. To the right, it heads on towards the Shannon – it’s main destination – but our journey took us left, down the Barrow Line. There are actually two Barrow Lines at the outset, rather simply called the Old Barrow Line and the New Barrow Line. After about two and a half kilometres, these two lines join up. According to this site, the problem was bog subsidence, and that’s not really a surprise, as both canals run through extensive areas of bog in the midlands, and this does not make life easy for the canal engineers, nor for the poor souls doing the actual digging.
Before you reach the convergence of these two lines, you will see the important Milltown Feeder entrance into the waterway, and perhaps the main reason why the Old Line was kept open and maintained, as it is one of the key feeders for the whole waterway. A little further past this junction, you cross over a bridge at Ballyteige, which gives you a fine view of Ballyteige Castle. It does a fine job mimicking a 16th century tower house, but in truth, it is a folly from the 1850s. Many of these, whilst literally the folly of wealthy landowners of the time (in this instance Sir Gerald Aylmer), did at least provide important work for those in the local community when times were hard.
On we went, heading further into no-man’s land. The next stop would be Rathangan, but our plan was to do a half, so that meant turning after about 10.5k.
This arbitrary distance, you will not be surprised to learn, dear reader, was literally in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a few trees and lots of bogland. We turned for home on the hour mark, and even though I have been doing a fair bit of running lately, and getting back into the gym, resulting in overall general fatigue, I reckoned we could get the run done in under two hours if we looked lively.
And as the kilometres ticked past and we neared Roberstown again, I could tell we would just about make it. And so we did, with about a minute to spare. I was happy with that. Most of the recent runs in the last few weeks have all been local and relatively short; in the region of six to ten kilometres or so. With Donadea 50 coming up in a week and a half, it’s good to know the legs aren’t completely buggered 😉