Ireland day 0145. Sunday 20 February 2022- Tolka

Ireland day 0145. Sunday 20 February 2022- Tolka
Today’s summary A very wet DWC walk down the Tolka Valley Park from Ashtown station and then back up the Royal Canal.   Welcome refreshments in pub and café at the end
Today’s weather Extremely wet all day until about 5pm.   Strong westerly breeze.   No sun.   About 6C
Today’s overview location
(the red cross in a circle shows where Val and I are at the moment)
Close-up location
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Wet Tolka Park walk DWC

We’ve led a bit of a charmed life, weather-wise, since coming to Ireland.   There’s been an abundance of sunny, dry days and blue skies.   And even when it has been raining when we’ve set out on one of our expeditions, nine times out of ten the rain has quickly eased off and the sun has come out.   That didn’t happen today.

I suppose that with Dudley, Eunice and now Franklin sweeping through the British Isles over the last five days, sooner or later we were bound to get caught out.   Anticipating that this might be the case today, we equipped ourselves with warm clothes, lots of waterproofs and of course the trusty Thermos of hot coffee, before setting out to join the Dublin Walking Club for a short hike down the Tolka Valley from Ashtown station.

As we feared, when we reached the station it was lashing down with rain but fortunately, just across the tracks, there was a decent café which we just managed to reach before getting thoroughly wet.   We sat there seemingly for ages, nursing mugs of tea, in the hope that the rain might ease up a bit but it didn’t.   In fact if anything it just intensified.   There was a hasty discussion with the rest of the group about whether or not we should even set off – but common sense and dignity prevailed and we decided to risk it.   And anyway, we had brought our waterproofs all this way so we thought we might as well use them.

So, layered in sweaty plastic, we headed off down into the Tolka Valley Park.    You can read more about the Park in the photo captions below but today it made an ideal destination for a short excursion on a wet Sunday afternoon.   Thanks to the weather, there was nobody else about, which as far as I am concerned, is always a good thing.   The weather didn’t really do it justice today though so it will definitely merit a return visit on a better day.   The Park extends all the way to Glasnevin so perhaps we might return and walk the full length, ending up at the Botanic Gardens.

It was too cold and wet to pause en route, so once we reached the outskirts of Glasnevin, we crossed back over the Tolka and walked up to the Royal Canal towpath.   As luck would have it (or not, as it turned out), at that point the westerly wind strengthened and the heavens opened yet again, so we completed the walk back up the canal to Ashtown,  struggling into the teeth of a gale laden with face-scrubbing icy water.

Eventually, Ashtown came into view in the distance – and we could even see the pub sitting there alluringly.   But it seemed to recede further and further into the distance – in the way these things do when you are desperate – with every pace we took.   Nevertheless, we did eventually make it and immediately sought refuge inside to dry out.   Val and I went across to the nearby café for a cup of tea to warm up, then joined the rest of the group back at the pub a bit later where hot whiskeys (an excellent idea on a day like today) were enjoyed.

There was a train back into town at just after 4pm so we said our goodbyes and dashed up to the station.   As our train approached, I was fascinated to see the signal man rush out of his hut and into the middle of the road to close the level crossing gates manually (you can see him in action in the banner image at the top of the blog).   A rather quaint relic of a less frantic age, perhaps, but certainly quite an unusual, although rather charming, sight on a busy commuter line just on the the outskirts of a major European capital city.

Now it’s time for a hot shower to complete the warming-up process, then dinner.   I must admit, I’m looking forward to huddling up to the radiator and getting on with Ulysses later.  Though I do have to admit, I think chopping some logs and stoking a real fire would be an even more relaxing and therapeutic way to round off the day.


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Heading of down the Tolka Valley Park (not to be confused with Tolka Park, which is an Irish Football stadium).   It’s a long ribbon-like park with the Tolka River (the northernmost of Dublin’s three rivers) flowing through the middle of it.   It’s about 8km / 5 mi long and is in the northwest of the city.   It’s relatively new, with housing developments along either side, and features several artificially created wetlands which are host to a number of rare species of plant and animal.   The river was in full spate today, and in places appeared very close to bursting its banks. The Tolka River from which the park gets its name.   It gets its name from the irish “An Tulcha“, which means “the flood”.   It is indeed prone to flooding with a number of severe incidents over the 20th and 21st centuries.   It seemed to be well on the way to having another such incident today
After walking down the river park, we turned round and headed back (west) up the Royal Canal, to Ashtown Station where we had started Outside the Canal Bar in Ashtown.   Aptly named, as it’s right on the towpath
The view from the coffee shop next to the pub.   We headed there first before retiring to the pub.   Keeping an eye on the weather in the hope that it would stop raining long enough for us to make it to the station.   Needless to say, it didn’t A hungry and ever optimistic visitor joined us in the café
A fascinating plaque on the Broom Bridge across the Royal Canal.   I have to admit that I am not really sure what quaternions are but it’s something to do with four dimensional space and the square root of minus one.   The plaque was unveiled in 1958 by Éamon de Valera who, as well as being Taoiseach and later President of Ireland, and also one of the leaders of the 1916 uprising and a former president of Sinn Féin, was also a mathematician and student of quaternions
(By the way all traces of Hamilton’s original carving have long since disappeared)
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 6235 m
Max elevation: 43 m
Min elevation: 23 m
Total climbing: 99 m
Total descent: -98 m
Total time: 01:46:55
Download file: Tolka Park Stroll DWC corrected.gpx

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