Welcome to . . .
 Waterway Walks 

The inland waterways of Ireland present visitors with a myriad of recreational opportunities. Most visitors are aware of the numerous water based activities available and of the excellent evening entertainments ashore. These pages describe yet more interesting recreational opportunities. They introduce visitors to a set of fascinating places to visit that are within walking distance of the shores and banks of these waterways. Many visitors pass these by, unaware of their existence as they rush up and down the main navigation’s seeking to tick off yet another item from the ‘been there done that’ list.

To fully enjoy Ireland’s waterways – slow down and spend more time exploring fewer places. If you think that message may apply to you then stop surfing, stop browsing, and start grazing these pages. Hopefully they will provide you with at least a few ideas that will help you to slow down and enjoy some of the fascinating places so many visitors never see.

First, a small number of important points to note:

Warning 1: The standard of driving on Irish roads often leaves a lot to be desired. In particular, many drivers do not slow down when approaching pedestrians. Consequently, it is essential to adopt a very defensive attitude when walking on Irish roads. This detracts considerably from the enjoyment of some walks.

Walks that are predominately on public roads with no pavements are given at most a three star rating. A key to the symbols used in this e-guide and to the rating system is provided below.

Warning 2: Some of the walks pass by deep water. When ashore we may be less vigilant than when afloat. Take care walking alongside deep or fast flowing water. Be particularly careful in the vicinity of locks as locks can be very dangerous. For example, it is easy to fall into a lock and often very difficult to get out. Life saving equipment is often not available. If you have children in your group consider requiring them to wear life jackets.

Crews of hire boats should note that access to the start points of some walks described on these pages, and to some of the locations pictured on these pages, involves navigating waters that are off limits to hire boats. If in doubt check with your hire boat company.

Key to symbols and grading system

Circular walk* * * *
Highly recommended. Mostly away from busy roads.
Out and back by the same route* * *Feature of outstanding interest.
Walk may be forgettable.
From Point A to Point B* *Nice walk
*Good exercise
The Walks

Almost all the walks described on these pages start and finish by a waterway that is or has been navigable by medium sized cruisers. Included are walks along canal and river tow paths, through natural woods, by lake shores, by historic buildings, through wonderful scenery, in urban areas, and to the tops of hills overlooking various waterways. You will find walks varying in length from less than 1 km to 20 km and more. The short walks are included where there are places of outstanding interest to visit. Some walks follow circular routes, others return by the outbound route, while other walks start on a waterway and finish at another point along the same waterway. The walks included are listed in the Index of Walks by Name page.

These walks were discovered over a number of years by studying maps, reading books, and talking with many individuals. You are strongly encouraged to use similar methods. Indeed at the present time, to get the best value from these pages, you will have to apply these methods. There are two reasons for this:

  1. These pages are at an early stage of development. Detailed descriptions of many of the walks have yet to be placed on the Web. It is anticipated that it will take a number of years before pages describing most of the best walks are added.
  2. These pages are intended to complement the excellent maps and books that are currently available about the inland waterways of Ireland. Many of these are listed on the References and IWAI Publications pages. These include significantly more information about the waterways than is contained in the Waterway Walks pages. These provide a waterway walker’s guide to these excellent sources.A by-product of this approach is that place name spellings used throughout these pages are the spellings used on the Ordnance Survey maps. Sometimes these differ from alternate commonly used place name spellings.

Visitor comments and contributions

Visitors to these pages are encouraged to contribute material such as comments about how the pages might be improved, notes about walks that might be added, pictures, and specialist comments on fauna, flora, and the history and heritage of the inland waterways of Ireland. Contributions should be sent to webmaster@iwai.ie. Material used will be acknowledged on the Acknowledgements page.

Other matters – anchoring, clothing, and walking times

Certain walks commence at points accessible only by dingy. In these cases cruisers need to be left at anchor. Skippers should check weather forecasts and follow normal good seamanship practices when leaving boats at anchor. If in doubt leave sufficient competent crew on board to manage the situation should the boat drift for whatever reason.

Others will follow after you. Please leave the countryside as you would wish to find it. Follow the countryside code – fasten gates after you, keep dogs under control, avoid damaging fences, hedges and walls, do not disturb animals, go carefully on country roads (single file facing oncoming traffic), guard against fire, and please do take litter home.

The walks described on these pages are not arduous when compared with most hill walks. However, many require more than light shoes, shorts, and a light top. In general you are advised to:

  • Wear a strong pair of walking shoes that provide some ankle support, long trousers and bring sufficient clothing to cope comfortably with rain and cool breezes. Many of the walks are not along prepared paths. Some go through overgrown areas. Hence the need for strong shoes and long trousers.
  • Bring a map on walks where you are unfamiliar with the local geography.

Walking times have been estimated assuming 4 km per hour plus 10 minutes per 100 meters of ascent. These are reasonably generous walking times but do not provide for significant stops along the way. On some of the walks it is easy to be tempted to spend significant time visiting places of interest or just observing the flora and landscape of the region.


The Iwai is very grateful to all those who assisted with the development of these pages. Their contributions are noted on the Acknowledgements page.

Developing these pages has been very enjoyable primarily because of the many days spent exploring the shores of Ireland’s inland waterways, talking with many interesting people, and collaborating with other IWAI members. Hopefully you will derive as much pleasure exploring our inland waterways.

Enjoyable walking,

Waterway Walks
Index of Walks by Name 
Key to symbols 
Shannon-Erne navigation – From Belleek to Killaloe:
Lower Lough Erne:Km Hours Comment
Castle Archdale
* * * *
out and Back
10 2.5 On paths, forest tracks and estate roads. Country park. Historic. 
Castle Caldwell
* *
out and back
10 2.5 On paths. Forest park. Flora and fauna. 
Ely Lodge Forest
* * * *
out and back10 2.5 On forest tracks and lakeside paths. Forest park. 
Lough Navar Forest
* * * *
Cicrular 20 5.75 On roads, forest tracks, and mountain paths. Partly on of the Ulster Way. Superb scenery. 
Tully Castle
* * *
Circular 0.5  On paths. Plantation castle with recently planted 17th century style gardens.
Other suggestions
* * *
    Boa Island, Devenish Island, Inchmacsaint, and White Island.
Upper Lough Erne:Km Hours Comment
Castle Coole
* * *
 1.25 On roads and estate avenues. Great country house. National Trust property. 
Crom Castle
* * * *
 1.75 On paths by lake, parkland and woods. National Trust property. 
Enniskillen Castle
* * *
 0.25 On footpaths. Historic castle with important museum. 
Knockninny Hill
* *
 On roads and hill track. Pleasant county views with panoramic view of Upper Lough Erne.
Shannon Erne Waterway:Km Hours Comment
Lough Scur Circuit
* *
 12 Good walk mostly on quiet country roads. 
O’Carolan Walk
* *
 1.25 On roads. Pleasant county walk. Nearby archaeology interest. 
Towpath Walks
* *
 1.25 Towpath walks along the Shannon-Erne Waterway.
Lough Allen to Carrick:Km Hours Comment
Leitrim Way
* *
 100  See notes on Lough Allen to Carrick page. 
Shannon Pot
* *
 19 See notes on Lough Allen to Carrick page.
Lough Key:Km Hours Comment
Drum Bridge to Boyle
* *
  On roads. Historic.
Historical Trail
* *
 10 2.5  On paths and roads. Forest and lake shore.
Lough Key Forest Park
* * * *

1.75 On paths. Forest park. Many interesting features.
Carrick to Lanesboro:Km Hours Comment
* *
 1.75 Mostly on quiet roads through rural countryside. Panoramic views.
Strokestown Park
* * *
 12  On busy roads to Strokestown. Historic, architecture, garden
Other suggestions
* *
    Cavan and Leitrim Railway at Dromod, and Derrycarne Woods.
Lough Ree:Km Hours Comment
Barley Harbour
* *
 102.5On roads by farmland; Pleasant architecture. Cultural 
Hodson Bay
* *
 41On roads by golf course & shore 
(Quaker Is.)

* * *
 41Cross country by farmland & shore; Historic – Monastic 
* * * *
 1.25  On paths & roads by woods & farmland; Historic 
* *
 3.51On paths, roads and shore by farmland 
* * *
 20.5Cross country by farmland & shore & woods. Historic
Athlone to Portumna:Km Hours Comment
The Connaught Walk

* *
 0.75 On roads. Tourist trail. Guidebook adds a lot of interest. 
The Leinster Walk

* *
 0.5 On roads. Tourist trail. Guidebook adds a lot of interest. 
Ballinasloe Line
* *
 Along disused canal bank through bog land and above Callows. 
* * *
On footpaths and the path of a dismantled railway. A number of short walks to places of historical and literary interest. 
Callows at Shannon Harbour
* *
 On road and tracks, by canal and river, and through Callow meadows. Historic. 
* * * *
 1.25 On roads across bogs. Historic ecclesiastical site. Post-war home of Oswald Mosley. 
* * *
 0.5 On paths and roads. One of Ireland’s finest historic ecclesiastical sites. 
Clonmacnoise and West Offaly Railway
* * *
 On busy roads. Includes conducted rail tour of Blackwater bog. 
* * *
   A number of short walks to places of historical interest. 
Meelick to Portumna
* *
 17 4.25 On paths of varying quality. Fine riverside walk in remote countryside. 
Other suggestions
* *
   Banagher to Meelick, The Clonmacnoise and West Offaly Railway, Ballinasloe, and walks from Shannonbridge.
Lough Derg:Km Hours Comment
Aughinish Point
* *
 On paths and roads. Attractive rural walk. 
* *
 10.5 2.75 At Scariff. On-road walk with attractive views of the Scariff region. 
* *
 17 4.25 At Scariff. On-road walk with panoramic views of the Scariff region. 
* *
 1.25 At Scariff. A short walk with panoramic views of Lough Derg. 
* *
 At Rinnaman Point. On country roads with attractive views of hills and lake. 
* * * *
 1.75 At Rinnaman Point. Hill walk on country roads, tracks, and forest paths. Superb views of Lough Derg and surrounding region. 
* *
 1.5 At Mountshannon. On country roads. 
Dromaan & Williamstown
* *
 8 to 23 2 to 6 At Dromaan & Williamstown. On-road walk with attractive views of the Whitegate region and Lough Derg. Read options on Dromaan and Williamstown walks page. 
* *
 1.75 At Killaloe. On country roads. 
* *
 24 At Killaloe. On country roads. 
(Holy Is.)

* * *
 Up to 1 0.25 Across fields; Historic – Monastic 
* *
 11 2.75 At Mountshannon. On country roads with wonderful views over Lough Derg. 
* *
 15 3.75 At Killaloe. On country roads. 
Lough Derg Way
* *
 10 2.5 At Dromineer. On roads and lakeshore paths. Pleasant country walk. 
Morgans Lane
* *
 0.75 At Mountshannon. On country roads. A very attractive short walk. 
Mountain View
* *
 16 4.0 The big walk at Mountshannon. On country roads with an off-road option. Includes magnificient views. 
Portumna Forest Park
* * * *
 10 2.5 On paths and forest roads. Forest park. Historic, flora and fauna. 
* *
 2.25 At Mountshannon. On country roads. A particularly scenic and mystical route. 
* *
 1.75 At Scariff. On-road walk with panoramic views of Lough Derg. 
Sli Eala
* *
 10 2.5 At Dromineer. A walk of discovery by road and riverbank. Historic. 
Sliabh Bernagh
* *
 19 The big walk at Scariff. On-road walk with panoramic views of the Scariff region and of Lough Derg. 
Other suggestions
* *
    Brian Boru Oak at Tuamgraney. Circular walks at Garrykennedy, and Terryglass.
Canals and rivers of Leinster:
Royal Canal:Km Hours Comment
Royal Canal Way
* *
 145  See notes on Royal Canal page.
Grand Canal:Km Hours Comment
Grand Canal Way
* *
 127  See notes on Grand Canal page. 
Milltown Feeder
and the Pollardstown Fen

* *
 18 4.5 By canal on roads and paths; Historic; Flora and fauna 
Sallins to Naas
via the Leinster Aqueduct

* *
 5.5 1.5 By canal on roads and paths; Historic; Flora and fauna 
Other suggestions
* *
   Circular walks from Lowtown
Barrow navigation:Km Hours Comment
Barrow Way
* *
 126  See notes on Barrow navigation page. 
Other suggestions
* *
   Borris and the Mountain River, and Brandon Hill

Canals and rivers of Ulster:

Lagan Canal:Km Hours Comment
The Broadwater Walk
– Soldierstown Bridge to Aghalee

* *
 1.75 On rural tow path with historic interest.
Sprucefield to Hilden
* *
 An interesting walk along an urban section of the historic Lagan Canal.
Newry Canal:Km Hours Comment
Scarva to Poyntzpass
* *
 2.25 On rural tow path with historic interest .

Key to symbols

Circular walk* * * *
Highly recommended. Mostly away from busy roads.
Out and back by the same route* * *Feature of outstanding interest.
Walk may be forgettable.
From Point A to Point B* *Nice walk
*Good exercise
Waterway Walks
Visitors to these pages who are planning a visit to Ireland may wish to acquire some of the documents listed on this page prior to arrival in Ireland. Below is a small set of links to sites on the web that may be able to help.

  • East West Mapping
    This organisation operates a mail order service for walking maps and guidebooks for Ireland. They normally stock the Shannon Navigation Charts as well as guides to the Barrow, Grand and Royal Canals. They also stock all the 1:50,000 maps for Ireland and selected 1:25,000 maps including maps of Upper and Lower Lough Erne.
  • Kennys Online Bookshop
    A bookshop specialising in Irish books and with a second-hand section. This can be useful given that some of the items referenced on this page are out of print.

The provision of these links does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the IWAI of the businesses concerned.

For additional information contact:

Please send comments to webmaster@iwai.ie about your experience with these organisations or links for other organisations that you found particularly helpful when sourcing material about the inland waterways of Ireland.


Office of the Admiralty
– Chart 5078. 1844. Lough Ree.
– Chart 5080. 1843. Lough Derg.
CAUTION: These charts have not been corrected since first date of publication and should be used with caution.

Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, Outdoor Pursuits Series 1:25,000
(These maps include submarine contours and navigation markers)
– Lower Lough Erne
– Upper Lough Erne

Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland, 1:50,000 Series
– Map 17, Lower Lough Erne
– Map 20, Newry Canal, Lough Neagh to Poyntzpass
– Map 26, Lough Allen and part of Shannon-Erne Waterway
– Map 27, Upper Lough Erne and part of Shannon-Erne Waterway
– Map 29, Newry Canal, Poyntzpass to Carlingford Lough

Ordnance Survey of Ireland, Discovery Series 1:50,000
– Map 33, From Lough Key and Acres Lough to Lough Forbes
The Shannon-Erne Waterway from Leitrim village to St John’s Lough 
– Map 34, Section of Shannon-Erne Waterway
between Ballinamore and Garadice Lough 
– Map 40, Lough Forbes to Cribby Islands, Lough Ree
Royal Canal from Richmond Harbour to Foygh
– Map 41, Royal Canal from Foygh to east of The Downs
– Map 47, Cribby Islands, Lough Ree to below Shannonbridge
– Map 48, Grand Canal from west of Derry Bridge to east of Daingean
– Map 49, Royal Canal from west of McNeads Bridge to east of Kilcock
Grand Canal from west of Rhode bridge to 15th lock
Barrow Line from Lowtown to south of 22nd lock
Milltown Feeder from Lowtown to Hill of Allen
Naas & Corbally Branch from Grand Canal to Naas
– Map 50, Royal Canal from west of Maynooth to Dublin
Grand Canal from east of 15th lock to Dublin
– Map 53, Shannon Harbour to Illaunmore on Lough Derg
– Map 55, Barrow Line from north of Rathangan to river south of Athy
Milltown Feeder from south of Hill of Allen to Pollardstown Fen
Naas & Corbally Branch from Naas to Corbally Harbour
– Map 58, South-west Lough Derg from Mountshannon to Killaloe
and south to Ardnacrusha and Parteen
– Map 59, Central Lough Derg including Williamstown,
Dromineer, and Garrykennedy
– Map 61, Barrow Line from south of Athy
to Barrow River south of Muine Bheag
– Map 68, Barrow River from south of Muine Bheag
to confluence with River Nore
– Map 76, River Barrow from confluence with River Nore to the sea

Outdoor Pursuits Series Map Discovery Series Map


1998. Guide to the Barrow Navigation of Ireland. 
1995. Guide to the Grand Canal of Ireland. 
1997. Guide to the Royal Canal of Ireland. 
The original versions of these guides were produced by the IWAI.

Delany, Ruth. 1987. By Shannon Shores. Gill & Macmillan
Delany, Ruth. 1992. Ireland’s Inland Waterways. Appletree Press
Delany, Ruth (Editor). 2000. The Shell Guide to the River Shannon. ERA-Maptec Ireland
Fewer, Michael. 1997. Irish Waterside Walks. Gill & Macmillan
Heery, Stephen. 1993. The Shannon Floodlands – A natural history of the Shannon Callows. Tír Eolas
Parker, Noel., Keaveney, Eamonn. 25 Walks in Fermanagh. Fermanagh District Council
Trodd, Valentine. 1985. Banagher on the Shannon – A Historical Guide to the Town.


Dixon, Hugh; Johnston, John. 1980. Enniskillen Castle. Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.
Fermanagh District Council. The Ulster Way (South-West Section)
Forest and Wildlife Service. Lough Key Forest Park. Dublin
Hamlin, Ann. 1984. White Island and Inishmacsaint. Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.
Meek, Marion. 1984. Tully Castle. Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland.
Kenny, Liam; Sinnott, Eamon. Towpath Trails. County Kildare Vocational Education Committee
MacGowan, Kenneth. 1991. Clonmacnoise. Kamac Publications
O’Brien Gearóid. 1990. The Lough Ree Trail – Athlone. Westmeath Tourism Council
O’Brien Gearóid. 1991. Athlone Tourist Trail. Athlone Chamber of Commerce
Reeves-Smyth, Terence. Guide to Irish Castles Appletree
The National Trust. 1981. Castle Coole.

On the Web:

Boyle Abbey

Castle Coole near Upper Lough Erne
The National Trust – Castle Coole

Carrick-on-Shannon – Historical Walking Trail

Cavan and Leitrim Railway

Cloghan Castle

– Heritage Ireland – https://www.heritageireland.ie/en/MidlandsEastCoast/Clonmacnoise/
– Moytura – https://www.moytura.com/clonmacnoise.htm
– Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clonmacnoise

Clonmacnoise and West Offaly Railway

Crom Castle by Upper Lough Erne
The National Trust – Crom Castle

Enniskillen Castle

King House at Boyle

Lough Key Forest Park

The Heritage Council has published a report Rindoon, Co. Roscommon: A Management Plan. Section 2 of this report is of particular relevance. It includes extensive information for on-line viewing about Rindoon and a number of detailed maps and diagrams.

Strokestown Park near Grange Lough

Tully Castle by Lower Lough Erne
Ireland’s Eye – Tully Castle

by Ruth Delany
by Michael Fewer
Waterway Walks
Many individuals who contributed to the development of these pages are unaware of their contribution. Those contributions were made long before the Internet was established and the idea of writing these pages came to mind. Of these I will single out one – Syd Shine, skipper of the M.V. Fox. Syd introduced me and many others to the joys of the Shannon. I was one of the crew that manned the Fox on the first Shannon Boat Rally. On Saturday, 5th August 1961, fourteen of us “awoke at 0430hrs, to prepare for the early start scheduled for 0600hrs” (Note 1). That was a magical day. We experienced many more fascinating days on that rally and on other trips on the Shannon. So it is no wonder that over the years I have been tempted back to the waterways again and again, have had the pleasure of passing on the Shannon bug to my family and friends, and now in retirement, look forward to exploring it further as I develop these pages.

Over the years we have enjoyed reading many books about the waterways. One author, Ruth Delany, stands out amongst the rest in contributing to our enjoyment. Her book By Shannon Shores has provided us with more clues and ideas for interesting days than any other. If you see a copy – buy it. Other excellent sources of information are listed on the Waterway Walks References page and on the IWAI Publications page.

Most of the walks described on these pages were discovered by reading books and pamphlets and by studying maps. Since letting it be known that I was developing these pages individuals have contributed descriptions of walks they enjoy:

  • Gerry Burke who pointed me towards publications about the East Clare Way. Thanks are due to Stasia Moroney for her assistance in the project to include East Clare walks in the IWAI Walks pages, Frank Reid for providing the original walk descriptions and advising on their adaptation to the Web, and to the East Clare Way Limited for permission to publish extracts from their pamphlets.
  • Brian Cassells provided descriptions of two charming walks by Ulster’s Lagan Canal and one by the Newry Canal. His descriptions include interesting background information about each walk.
  • Noel Donagh who provided an excellent map of Portlick. His map provides much more detail than the standard Waterway Walks maps. It is linked to from the Portlick walk page.
  • Brian and Anne Goggin for suggesting a number of walks around Lough Derg and along the Barrow. These are mentioned on the Barrow Navigation and Lough Derg pages. I plan to provide more details.
  • Paddy Mackey for suggesting the Sli Eala walk by Dromineer and the Sli Eala Walk Committee for permission to publish their material. Paddy wrote the pamphlet. The designer is Anne Lawlor.
  • The Maguire, whose ancestral home is Enniskillen Castle, kindly wrote a brief history and note on life in the castle. The note is published in the Heritage section.
  • Alan Mullally for suggesting four walks in the North Shannon region. These are mentioned on the Lough Key and Boyle River and Carrick to Lanesboro pages. I plan to provide more details.
  • Jim Murray has made a number of contributions. These include:
    • His description of a walk near Dromineer that was published previously in Inland Waterways News.
    • A suggested walk near Ballinasloe.
    • A description of O’Carolan Walk by Keshcarrigan.
  • Tim O’Brien, wrote an article about Portumna Castle for the Irish Times. He kindly agreed to having it reproduced in the Heritage section.
  • Michael Savage provided the photographs to complement Brian Cassels’ description of the walk along the Lagan Canal from Sprucefield to Hilden.
  • Others who have asked to remain anonymous. Those individuals will know that their contributions are greatly valued and will provide many hours of enjoyable walking for boating folk.

I have no doubt that in the months and years ahead I will have the pleasure of adding many more names to this list.

Thanks are due to Syd Shine for permission to use his picture of M.V. Fox.

My appreciation is also due to the IWAI Web Development Group:

  • Brian Goggin who bravely entrusted this project to me
  • Ewan McDonnell who helped constrain me when I showed signs of running amok on the IWAI Web server. Ewan also introduced me to a number of techie facilities of which I was unaware and which proved to be most useful for this project
  • Colin Becker and Des Leyden both of whom contributed ideas when I looked like getting lost.
M.V. Fox 1982
by Ruth Delany (38kb)
I am also indebted to those who provided technical help and ideas. These include:

  • My former colleagues in the Department of Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin who introduced me to the Web when I joined them in 1992.

Finally I want to acknowledge the major contributions made by my wife Heather to the development of these pages. These include having the faith to embark upon our first Shannon holiday many years ago one cool and damp April week in a small and not very well equipped boat. In subsequent years we have had many happy family holidays on the river. More recently we spent a number of years exploring the waterways in our own boat. Heather’s good company and culinary skills added greatly to the enjoyment of those trips. And now she has encouraged me to embark on this project, put up with many lonely evenings as I struggle with the keyboard and slow Internet connections, and encouraged me to return to the waterways for a few more years so that we may work on these pages together.

My thanks are due to all of these and many more for introducing me to the wonders of Ireland’s inland waterways and for helping me develop these pages. Hopefully you will also enjoy researching the shores of our waterways and exploring the myriad of fascinating places that are to be found there.

David Algeo


  • IWAI. 1985. Silver River Page 35
  • Siegel, David. 1996. Creating Killer Web Sites Chapter 10.