Waterways Ireland | Places To Go | Activity Type | Activity Article

Leighlinbridge - Goresbridge

  • 14.5km
  • 3.5 - 5 hours
  • Moderate





Trail Quality:


Walking Trail


National Way Marked Way



Estimated Time:

3.5 - 5 hours

Start point:


End point:


Dogs Allowed:



Grassy towpaths quiet roads, gravel tracks


Leighlinbridge garden village, St Laserian's Cathedral, Dunleckney Manor, The Barrow Experience Garden,


For accommodation around this section of the Barrow, please check out www.discoverireland.ie


Leighlinbridge, Bagenalstown and Goresbridge are all small towns with shops, pubs and a few eateries.

Public Transport:

Leighlinbridge, Bagenalstown and Goresbridge all have some bus services.
Bagenalstown also has train connections.
Please see www.transportforireland.ie for routes and timetables.

Map guide available:

Guide to the Barrow – Waterways Ireland & Inland Waterways Association of Ireland


In Leighlinbridge the Barrow Way crosses from the right to the left bank of the river as you head south. Look for a sign here dedicated to the mountaineer and physicist John Tyndall, who was from the town. Tyndall was known to walk to school with his teacher along the Barrow, discussing mathematics on the way.

Giving a speech at his retirement from London's Royal Institution, Tyndall, a renowned alpine climber, remarked: "The hardest climb, by far, that I have accomplished, was that from the banks of the Barrow to the banks of the Thames."

Leaving the village you will see the 16th century Black Castle, which passed back and forth between British settlers and local Irish chieftains in the past.

Soon the towpath takes you down the wooded Rathelin Cut, with hedgerows rich in ash, willow, hawthorn, alder and holly. The towpath rejoins the river and you pass a fine stone house with apple trees in its front garden.

The Barrow Way brings you past an outdoor swimming pool, a long weir and chain of islands, into Bagenalstown, where there are fine old mill buildings on the river.

The town was originally named for local landowner Walter Bagenal, and though it officially changed its name to Muine Bheag in the 1930s, the English names is still used more.

The Barrow Way stays on the left bank as it leaves the town heading south, passing another lock on the way. The towpath goes under the Royal Oak road bridge, and then an imposing railway viaduct.

The towpath takes you down another side channel to Fenniscourt Lock, before you join the river again through rich pasture. Later you come to Slyguff weir, which is the oldest on the Barrow, before another side channel leads you down to Ballyellen Lock.

Barrgaghcore Matlings, a vast and ruined gothic mill, is on the west bank of the river here, and back on the towpath you will pass the Ballyellen Lime Works. Soon you will see the buildings of Goresbridge ahead as you rejoin the river. There is a large pet food factory across the river here.

Goresbridge is on the west bank of the river in Co Kilkenny (while the east bank is in Co Carlow). Take care climbing up to the bridge, as the steps are old and worn. The bridge was the site of a successful insurgency against crown forces during the 1798 rebellion.

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