Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Went Walking - Deep Sinking - Royal Canal

Fear Rothar grew up in Castleknock, about 6 miles west of Dublin City Center. His mom's house is ideally situated for walking, as it is just over a mile to walk to the Phoenix Park or a stroll around the corner to get on the Royal Canal Way, a 49 mile long towpath/trail alongside the Royal Canal stretching from Dublin to Cloondara in County Longford.

On our first day in Ireland, we did a short stretch of the canal and I noticed the signs for the Deep Sinking. Curious, I did some research and found that the Deep Sinking is the name of the deep and narrow cutting of the Royal Canal between Castleknock and Clonsilla. When the Royal Canal was designed, the Duke of Leinster demanded the canal be routed by his ancestral home in Maynooth. This added substantial cost and complications to the project, including 11 additional locks and an aqueduct. In the section known as Deep Sinking, the canal runs much lower than the towpath and in places it is quite narrow and dangerous. In one serious accident in 1845, sixteen people drowned when their boat sank after hitting a rock at night. Also with the towpath well above the canal, horses were often pulled into the deep cutting below to a watery grave.

Despite the tragic history, I decided to do a morning walk through the Deep Sinking to Clonsilla and back. Navigation, for me, at least would be quite straight-forward. Get on path - walk a while, make u-turn!

I'll definitely admit that walking along a flat towpath is relatively easy as hikes go, but it definitely was not boring. Also one can certainly make rapid progress along a flat path (faster still- if you leave the camera in your pocket), and build up strength to climb hills later!

I turned back at the end of the Deep Sinking, shortly after passing Clonsilla village, since I had plans to meet Fear Rothar for a late lunch and shopping in the afternoon, but I look forward to a future trip and a much longer walk along the canal.

BTW, for those looking for an easy day walk from Dublin, this site has a good description of the route out to Leixlip starting from Connolly Station. Return walking or by bus.

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