Carlow to Kilkenny National Cycle Network was founded bt Carlow/Kilkenny Local Authorities under the National Cycle Network (NCN) program which has provided a dedicated on road cycle route 35km in length between Carlow and Kilkenny. The route is located on the R448/R712 (the old N9/N10). Carlow to Kilkenny National Cycle Network route starts/ends on the Northern edge of Carlow Town which links to the extensive network of cycling routes in Carlow Town itself which links to many of the major attractions within the Town and County. Carlow Town is also the most Northerly point of the River Barrow in County Carlow. There is direct access to the River Barrow towpath. This towpath runs continuously for 42km to the South of Carlow to St Mullins and 65km to the North of Carlow to Lowstown.
From Carlow heading to Kilkenny there are 2 further links to the River Barrow, the first is 7km south of Carlow Town at Milford Lock, one of the most tranquil and idyllic settings along the River Barrow. This is also the site of one of Europe’s largest commercially operated mills in the 19th Century. A further 3km to the south at Rathvindon Lock which provides a direct link to the heritage town of Leighlinbridge, a multi award winning Tidy Town which is home to 2012’s best Garden Centre in Europe Arboretum and a Boating Marina.
The Barrow Towpath intersects with the South Leinster Way at this point approximately 20kms south of Carlow which leads to the majestic Blackstairs Mountains including Mount Leinster. The Barrow walkway continues all the way to the border town of Carlow/Kilkenny at Tinnahinch/Graiguenamanagh a major barge, boating, canoe and Kayaking centre and tourism centre on the River Barrow.
Carlow to Kilkenny National Cycle Network continues to the southwest passing the R724 at Royal Oak. This route will link the users to the Town of Muine Bheag and Borris, again leading to the Blackstairs Mountains and the Barrow Valley. There are many wonderful places of interests for those wishing to explore including the ancient ecclesiastical settlement of St Mullins.
At this point in the route the cyclist leaves County Carlow and enters County Kilkenny at Paulstown which features Shankill Castle and its grounds. Tours are available here during summer months. In Paulstown cyclists can vere off the routes to Gowran Village famous for its horse racing excellence or continue west along the main cycling route to Kilkenny City. The routes takes runs parallel to the great Castlecomer Plateaux and has links to over the plateaux into North Kilkenny.
This next section has many opportunities for the cyclist to stop and have light refreshment in for example a typical rural pub ‘Paddys Country Pub’ or at another magnificent Garden Centre owned by the Hennessy Family. There are many more links along the route to explore areas within a few Kilometers of the main cycling route like Goresbridge, Bennetsbridge, Muckalee and Maddoxstown. Before you enter Kilkenny City the Award winning Lyrath Estate Hotel and Spa can provide afternoon tea or some light refreshment. The end of the route brings the Medieval City of Kilkenny which again contains an extensive network of cycle routes which will enable the cyclist to explore the many gems within.
The whole route will take about 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours for the average cyclist, but to truly appreciate all the sites along the entire route a full day should be allowed to make the journey.