Thursday, 4 April 2013

Erewash Canal Walk Part 4: Langley Mill south to Cotmanhay

I'm slowly getting there. One more section and I will have walked the entire length of the Erewash Canal. Each pic covers some aspect of 'the walk'.

We caught a Trent-Barton No.1bus from Nottingham. The destination board can be confusing. Whilst all the buses go to Eastwood, after that they go three different ways and this is the one which will drop you off by the Great Northern pub.

However, Susan and I got off in Eastwood and had a bacon roll and tea here before beginning our walk. The food was good, wholesome and cheap compared to some places.
From here we walked the half-mile to the canal at Langley Mill.

The Great Northern pub sits right beside the Langley Mill Lock, with a small marina / canal basin in between.

Langley Mill Lock was full to overflowing as this picture shows. I have not seen this on lock gates for a very long time.  This end is the Erewash Canal and the other end what remains of the Cromford Canal.

This close-up of the lock gates at the end which open into the Cromford Canal Basin, which is no more than a canal basin going nowhere.

The sign says it all. Once three important canals met here and this was an important canal 'hub'. Now it is where the Erewash Canal ends. Any boats which get this far from Trent Lock by the River Trent in Long Eaton have to turn around and go back.

The width of the Erewash Canal looking south from Langley Mill gives a good clue as to how busy this would have been, even seventy years ago.

Along sections of the canal, fencing has been torn down and carted off wholesale, probably for use as firewood. We saw several styles like this. You can see the same thing on other sections we have walked.

Most of the towpath between Langley Mill and Eastwood Lock is little more than a mud path and, along a few stretches, heavily churned up as this pic shows. It is also the noisiest section of the Erewash Canal because of its proximity to the very busy Eastwood Bypass.

This is where what remains of the disused Nottingham Canal begins. About one hundred yards from the Erewash Canal and is signposted as 'The Erewash Trail' — something we plan to walk another day, beginning at Wollaton Vale in Nottingham. Our old A-Z Map show the canal coloured blue, indicating water. Unfortunately, it is now all overgrown at this point.

Eastwood Lock, where the towpath changes sides, from the west bank to the east bank.

Here, a canal race carries the excess water away down one side of the lock, so you avoid the water overflowing the top of the lock gates, as you saw in the earlier  pic of the Langley Mill Lock.

Just south of Eastwood Lock there are the remains of two large pillars suggesting that something quite large once crossed the Erewash Canal at this point. Looking at a 1921 Ordnance Survey map (no.129, Nottingham & Loughborough), which shows the area in some detail, the bridge  remains above and viaduct / piers in the picture below are both marked and there is a bridge across the nearby Nottingham Canal (which from Shipley Gate to Langley Mill ran very close together).

What we have is the remains of a railway line linking two Midland Railway Company lines. The linking railway ran between New Eastwood and Shipley Gate across the two canals, but by 1921 only dashes remain on the OS map for the section between New Eastwood and Eastwood Lock on the Erewash Canal. One hundred years later their once presence is still etched in a 21st century landscape. This is the where much of the joy from canal walking comes. Looking out for things others might miss, then going home and playing detective, knowing that the same walk in a couple of years will reveal more hidden secrets.

Beyond the canal bridge and between two of the disused railway's viaduct piers you can see the River Erewash, which flows under the canal at this point.

Turning my camera around 180 degrees and you have the River Erewash flowing towards the River Trent. This pic was taken from the canal towpath.

Shipley Gate Lock looking north towards Langley Mill.

The Erewash Canal and the Midland Railway are what you might call 'geographical buddies'. They both run close together through the length of the Erewash Valley, often within sight of one another as other pics in this series of walks show. Both were constructed during the relatively early days of the industrial revolution, within fifty years of one another. One at the end of the eighteenth century and the other during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. This pic is where the railway crosses the canal, from running on the west to to the south the railways moves to the east side of the canal's northern section. Today, the bridge is modern looking, so I'm going to look for a photograph of the previous bridge which, if I find, I will include in this blog at some point in the future.

During the two hours we walked we saw only one passenger train, one goods train and one engine on its own. The 1921 OS map shows sixteen stations close to the Erewash Canal: 2 in Langley Mill; Eastwood, Shipley Gate; Newthorpe & Greasley; Awsworth, 2 in Ilkeston, Ilkeston (main line); Trowell (near Gallow's Inn); Stanton Gate; Sandiacre; Long Eaton (town); Sawley Junction (now Long Eaton) and Trent (east across from Trent Lock, where the cottages close to the railway track remain as you pass on Nottingham — Loughborough trains looking south). Today there are just two stations: Langley Mill, which re-opened a few years ago, and Long Eaton, neither of which are central to the communities they serve.

There was also the Derby Canal which joined the Erewash Canal just south of Sandiacre, plus countless railway lines, a good few of which were stationless and no doubt  served
colleries and iron works, like the line from Stanton Gate to Dale Abbey.
to be continued later today (5 April)...

From Shipley Gate Lock to Cotmanhay, the Erewash runs in long straight sections with gentle linking curves and is at its quietest, away from the Eastwood By-pass. This is the view  of canal looking north, as you approach the Cotmanhay canal bridge.

The Bridge Inn on Bridge Street, Cotmanhay, where we finished this section of our Erewash Canal walk. We celebrated at 4pm in a lively and friendly public bar with a cup of coffee and a bag of crisps.

This is the view from the Cotmanhay canal bridge looking south, with the Bridge Inn just visible on the right edge of the pic.

Less than five minutes after leaving the Bridge Inn, we were waiting on Cotmanhay Road for a no.2 Trent-Barton bus to take us back to Lenton. They run every twelve minutes and within thirty minutes we were within sight of home, having caught once glance glimpse of the Erewash Canal, as our bus crossed crossed over at Gallow's Inn, where Part 1 of this series ended.

Te section between Cotmanhay and the Gallow's Inn on the road between Trowell and Ilkeston is probably as built up as it is between Trent Lock and Long Eaton. It hugs the railway, except where acres of modern warehouses block the view and on the west side, opposite the towpath are houses and the occasional open space. With this part completed, I can now fairly say that I have walked the Erewash Canal, all seventeen miles of it, and, in doing so, I have gained a greater appreciation of its historical significance and industrial importance. The Erewash Valley is a kind of East Midlands 'Black Country', with a string of local communities hugging its banks as worthy of our attention as Derby and Nottingham.

Most importantly, it is a really great canal to walk and explore by bus, with never more than a few minutes to wait for a Trent-Barton bus, be it Langley Mill, Cotmanhay, Trowell, Sandiacre or Long Eaton, which will whisk you to and from Nottingham.

Sometime over then next few weeks, I will give the Erewash canal its own page on my blog.
It has also prompted me to explore what remains of the Nottingham canal between Wollaton and Langley Mill, so watch out for postings.


Proactive Driver Training said...

Awsworth Angling Club section of the Nottingham canal runs along side Shilo Way between Naptha House Kennels and Newtons Lane the link is to my face book page blog of many happy days spent fishing here
I was brought up from new born to the age of 6 in the canal side cottage at Shipley Gate ( new eastwood stretch of the erewash canal with many family photo's and happy memories of the bridge area and lock gates close to the cottage

ARoscoe said...

Googled the photo of the Great Northern pub and found your article. I was researching my grandmother's cousin who died in WW1. His father came from Langley Mill and his grandparents Robert and Annie Bowes ran this pub in the mid-19th century, when it was called the Junction Navigation. I'm still tracing back and I think it's highly likely that Robert Bowes's mother, Elizabeth, ran the pub in 1840. She would be my great, great, great grandmother! My email is Thanks again