Trailhead: Tinnahinch, County Carlow
Services: Tinnahinch, Graiguenamanagh and Borris
Distance/Time: 13.1km / approx. 3 hours
Terrain: Towpath along the River Barrow
Ascent: 150 metres
To suit: Beginner walkers
Minimum gear: Hiking boots, rain gear, fluids, snacks and mobile phone
OSI maps: OSI Discovery Series 68, 75 and 76. The Blackstairs, Mount Leinster and the Barrow Valley from East West Mapping www.eastwestmapping.ie
Type of trail: National Way Marked Trail – yellow arrow on black background
Emergency services: 999 or 112
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
TinnahTinnahinch, on the Carlow side of the River Barrow, and Graiguenamanagh on the Kilkenny side, are popular boating centres whose character reflects a bygone time when the area was an important focal point for commercial traffic on the river. Both towns are connected by a beautiful bridge, constructed in 1767 when the canal system was being built.
One of Ireland’s finest Cistercian monasteries was founded here in 1204 by William Marshal who became Lord of Leinster following his marriage to Strongbow’s daughter Aoife de Clare. It was called Duiske Abbey from the stream that flows nearby. The church was restored in 1974-80 and consists of a nave and chancel with an aisle on each side. To truly imagine what the church must have been like when the monks lived here, take a look at the model of the original monastic settlement in the interior of the church. The first monastery would have spread over some five acres. In the graveyard to the south of the chancel there are two small granite high crosses. These would have been important educational tools of the time, bearing stories of early biblical significance.
Tinnahinch Castle was built around 1615 by James Butler who later lost his lands because of his involvement in the Confederate War of 1641. It was built to control a crossing where a wooden bridge once spanned the Barrow. The castle was burnt around the year 1700 and has lain that way ever since.
A-B: Join the walk on the Carlow side of the bridge and turn left onto the towpath, leaving behind the barges moored along the granite quays and the impressive old store houses. Follow the towpath through the steeply wooded valley to reach Ballykeenan Lock. Continue on following the yellow arrows, ignoring the local loop walks that turn right uphill here. The ruins of Clohastia Castle lie to the left across the river, one of many ‘Norman’ castles built to control navigation and crossing of the Barrow. Reach the scenic and popular Clashganny weir and lock, which has road access.
B-C: After pausing to explore and admire Clashganny, continue northwards on the towpath. Ballinagrane Lock and weir is your next landmark. A little further on the Mountain River rushes in from your right after travelling the short distance from it’s source on Mount Leinster. The ancestral burial ground of the McMorrough Kavanagh family lies nearby. Continue on past Borris Lock and weir to reach a little car park and riverside quay at Ballytiglea Bridge. Leave the River Barrow now, turning right and uphill to reach a main road.
C-D: Turn right uphill after Ballytiglea Bridge and follow this busy road with care to reach a crossroad. Turn right and follow the main R702 back down into the town of Borris. Watch out for the gates of historic Borris House on your right, seat of the McMorrough Kavanaghs, onetime local kings of Leinster. There are tours of Borris House available on selected days – see website for details www.borrishouse.com.
‘Leave no Trace’ Principles
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Be considerate of others
- Respect farm animals and wildlife
- Travel and camp on durable ground
- Leave what you find
- Dispose of waste properly
- Minimise the effects of fire
Practising a ‘Leave no Trace’ ethic is very simple. Make it hard for others to see or hear you and leave no trace of your visit.
For more information on County Carlow visit the Carlow Tours app, available as a free download from the Google App Store or log on to www.carlowtourism.com