Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Erewash Canal 90 minute walk: Sandiacre to Towell

At the beginning of 2012 I promised myself that I would walk what remains of the Erewash Canal. This 'ambition' was partly prompted by the fact that Erewash Borough Council, a few years ago, created, with other bodies, an Erewash Canal Trail. Like so much else in my life, I have left this intent to the very last moment, so I only did the first section of the walk last Wednesday. It was a cold, grey, overcast day. The kind of day I actually like. What follows is little more than a collection of photographs and a map (the yellow line shows the course of the canal, which is the right of the line). The top of the map is north and the towpath runs along the east side of the canal.

 Not the best of maps, but for local folk who might be interested. Sandiacre is at the bottom and I got there on a Trent-Barton i4 bus, which runs every 10 minutes along the Derby Road from Nottingham Broadmarsh Bus Station and Friar Lane, in the city centre, via Lenton and the QMC Hospital, towards Stapleford, Sandiacre and Derby.

Trowell is at the top and Trent-Barton's 'two' bus and runs between Nottingham (from the Victoria Centre Bus Station) and Ilkeston / Cotmanhay, via Canning Circus, Ilkeston Road, Radford and Wollaton every twelve minutes, so it's an easy bus for Lenton residents to use.

I got off a stop early, so that I could walk over the long railway bridge towards Sandiacre and cross into Derbyshire on foot.

I also wanted to see what the River Erewash looked like at this point on its journey to the River Trent. A bit like the River Leen at Lenton in truth. Both were once 'working' rivers and played an important role in the early days of the industrial revolution, when they had a good few mills along much of their length.

And this is where Station Road, as you enter Sandiacre, goes over the Erewash Canal, looking north.

You get down onto the towpath on the south side of bridge and this is the view south towards Toton and Long Eaton. It was at this point that I decided to walk north to Trowell. Up to this moment I could have gone in either direction.

The canal towpath has lots of information boards like this.

I took this picture standing under the bridge looking north. The building on the left is The Red Lion pub and, on another day, might be a good place to visit.

An old factory which has been converted into apartments. The road they are on looks like Bridge Street

A little further along, on the canal's west bank, the gardens of some modern houses, which have been built on Mornington Close.

On the northern edge of Sandiacre, the canal runs straight and there was not a soul to be seen. To my right was the main London – Sheffield railway line and the long abandoned Stanton Gate New Sidings, hidden form view by thickets of Willow and Ash. On the west bank there are a good few modern factory and warehouse units, in front of which there are a few narrow boats moored. All appear to be lived in.

This footbridge runs from the east bank of the Erewash canal towards Stapleford and its length gives some idea of just how big the Stanton Gate sidings used to be. The trees in the distance have all grown up where the yards used to be. Now, only four railway tracks remain and these are just visible through the iron trellis work.  

The footbridge is in line with this canal bridge. This pic is looking south, towards Sandiacre, because I was able to catch a reflection of the town's parish church on its northern edge. It's location is a little puzzling, but I have since found out that the church dates back to 'Saxon times', so I'll try and find my way there on another day. I can only assume that, at some point, in history, Sandiacre has 'moved'.

If I remember correctly, this is 'Junction Lock', one of four along this stretch of the Erewash canal, which has a race to one side.

A view from Junction Lock north towards Trowell.

Most of the time I was on my own. These were the only cyclists I saw and of the eight or nine people I saw, probably five had a dog with them. Everyone exchanged greetings. In the background is the M1 motorway, amazingly free of traffic, given that this is at about 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

Another narrow canal bridge between Toton and Trowell, with a lock just beyond…

…which I took a picture of. During my walk the few narrow boats that I did were all moored. It will be interesting to see if I see any 'moving' boats when I walk other sections of the Erewash canal.

The view of the River Erewash with a London–Sheffield railway line bridge in the distance. The river is the county boundary along most of its length between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, so areas like Sandiacre and Long Eaton, which are very much part of the Greater Nottingham conurbation, are actually in Derbyshire.

Seeing this sign beside the canal, I knew I must be close to journey's end. In the distance you might just be able to make out the tower of Trowell parish church.

The only narrow boat I sawed moored at this end of my walk.

This section of the canal is obviously used by anglers for competitions. Every five yards or so, the canalside vegetation was cut back so that anglers could fish. Most had numbers like this in place. I believe that where an angler gets to fish in a competition is determined by which number they draw from a bag.  I have no idea whether '108' is a good spot or not.

The trees to the left hide housing and to the right are acres of football pitches and a large pavilion. Not that I could hear anything, except the sound of gulls and crows.

And around the next bend I came to Trowell and the Nottingham Road canal bridge…

…next to which there was another lock and The Gallows Inn public house. For many folk, this stretch of the Erewash Canal makes for a perfect walk. Ninety minutes long at an amble and with a pub at each end, plus regular bus services.

And as I turned from taking the picture of The Gallows Inn, what did I see speeding towards me, but a Trent-Barton 'two' bound for Nottingham and home. Luckily, I didn't have too long to wait for the next bus and then it was home for a nice cup of tea and a biscuit with Susan.

I won't pretend for one moment that my walk was through idyllic countryside. It wasn't, but history and post-industrial scrub surrounded me for much of my walk and there were plenty of clues as to why the Erewash Canal was constructed (it opened in 1779 according to Wikipedia) and, despite the fact that it was joined by the railway in 1848, it continued to carry cargo until 1952. 

The Erewash Canal is part of my urban England. I have spent my live living in places others spend much of their life trying to escape from. They do not see that, beneath what is no more than a veneer of greyness and drabness, there is a far richer landscape full of people, past and present, who have made us what we are today. We are all part of the same heritage.

I also found a website / blog about the Erewash Valley which might be of interest.

1 comment:

L. Gould said...

I walk this route daily to get to and from school, and can't help but to be fascinated by the history of the area. Though my family moved here from elsewhere in England, this place is and always has been my home, and I love learning more about the area. It sounds silly, but I can't help but be captivated by this place's rich past.