A quick posting so as not to get too far behind real life events but with dwindling battery and meagre coverage and dogs and track buddy keen to get going.
A lovely misty start after a cold clear night. There was a hard frost and our bags had done well to keep us cosy. The problem with the cheap one skin tents is the condensation on nights like that so we spent a while drying gear before heading off.
There had been a run of 6 locks in quick succession and we headed past the charming 7th to bring us up to the summit level which was to then run flat for 24kms.
Before long we had got to the (closed) pub at the road bridge replacing the old Neads bridge which had very nearly been built too low to allow any canal traffic before it had been restored.
We’ve been past a few of these “accommodation ” bridges built to facilitate farmers and raised by hand.
For a long stretch towards Mullingar the engineers had chosen a route which involved a lot of deep cutting though rock which pretty much bankrupted the company again.
The outskirts of Mullingar were pretty grim with terraces of boarded up housing and swans swimming amongst filth.
The railway line to Athlone was abandoned and one particular spot was bush drinking central station.
There had been a lot of restored and gravelled or tarmaced tow path in Westmeath for walkers and cyclists and a lot of it was part of the Dublin to Galway greenway being got together. It looked like they were getting this deserted line done as part of it.
After Mullingar the way was really lovely and the swans had a nicer time of it. Nice harbour at Ballinea with picnic tables and grassy bits etc but we decided to carry on to Coolnahay, recommended by the lads on the barge.
We were glad we did. It was a beatiful walk in the sun to get there and we had tea and scones in the little old lock keepers cottage and camped on the grass surrounded by flower beds and benches. There was a water tap and toilet but we were a bit dissapointed to discover no pub.