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Archive for the ‘Amber Valley & Erewash’ Category

Its perhaps fitting that this first Notts&DerbyWalks Blog post straddles the border between Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire, with The Erewash Valley now forming a pretty patch of countryside, sandwiched in between the urban areas of Ilkeston, Eastwood and Langley Mill. Over the last few centuries however the area has been constantly changing, and was until recently a key industrial zone. Railways and canals crisscrossed between the many pits in the area which came and went over the years. The Bennerley Viaduct is the most impressive visual reminder of the area’s past, but look closer and the clues are still there to show just how much the landscape has changed.

In our times for example its easy to forget the industrial roots of the canal system in the UK. We’ve grown used to seeing the canal as a relaxing and gentle element of the countryside.  A place suited to nothing more than a gentle stroll on a warm afternoon, a spot of pleasure boating, or just lazing about with a pint! That canals developed as a quicker method for transporting industrial goods – especially coal – has almost been forgotten. It seems canals were put there as recreational waterways – but not all canals made it through to the modern age.

This first blog crosses between two canals with two different stories – also passing the meandering River Erewash. The Erewash Canal is thrives today, navigable from the Erewash Junction at Langley Mill right down to Trent Lock, connecting to the wider canal network. The canal is used by a variety of pleasure craft, and maintained by an eager preservation society. The Nottingham Canal however is a fine example a waterway left to be reclaimed by the landscape. In some stretches its almost impossible to spot the old course. Where it does survive it exists as a series of elongated ponds, and ghostly snakes of wetland vegetation, attracting a large variety of wildlife.

Our Route

These links will download PDF’s of the walk below –

Blog_1_Walk_-_Erewash_Valley_A5

Blog_1_Walk_-_Erewash_Valley_A4

Our route starts out at the The Nottingham Canal, which here is in effect just a long, narrow pond, in some areas completely taken over by vegetation. The changing structure of the canal provides habitats for a variety of animals, especially birds. Its not unusual to see a fishing heron swooping into the canal. The views over to the left show the extent of the valley, over to Shipley Common in the distance.

At the first road, turn left and you’ll soon find yourself at the Erewash Canal. The canal is still navigable, and is used by pleasure craft, running from the Trent to Langley Mill, where it once connected to the Nottingham and Cromford Canals, which are both now disused (in this area at least) and in disrepair.

The first lock you come to is Eastwood Lock. In what now looks like untouched countryside just to the left of the route was once Eastwood Colliery. Though the naked eye would be pushed to see the colliery itself, squeezed in between the Erewash and Nottingham Canals, you can pick out the tell-tale signs. Two embankments still exist, marking the line of the old railway branches connecting Eastwood Colliery to the Erewash Valley and Great Northern Railways – there is a footpath along the top of the embankment on your right, leading up towards Shipley, where another colliery once stood. Just after Eastwood Lock there are the stonework stumps, which are all that remains of the bridge which once crossed the canal here to connect to the colliery. Eastwood Colliery closed in 1884. The lock itself was also used for loading coal to barges for transportation.

What follows is a pleasant stroll along the canal for a mile or so, until you reach the Bridge Inn pub. There the route heads of to the left, away from the Erewash Canal, heading past the railway, bringing you to the River Erewash again. You should be able to glimpse views over to Bennerley Viaduct on your right.

The path there joins bridleways which lead back towards the Nottingham Canal – although you’ll be hard pushed to find any of the previous course of the river along this stretch. The occasional long mound of earth betrays the line of the old canal, but it is so well filled in as to be almost completely unrecognizable. The bridleways bring the route back to Newmanleys Road, when there is still time for a quick walk along a stretch of the canal which still exists – bringing you right back to the start point.

Alternatives

There are a wide range of alternative to this walk. On the interactive map we have indicated some alternative car parking spots you could use as start points, and if you have a copy of OS Explorer 260 you’ll easily pick out ways to lengthen or shorten our route. You could also work this walk into a longer walk around Eastwood and the DH Lawrence heritage in the town. The Nottingham Canal featured in Lawrence’s novel The Rainbow, where Tom Brangwen drowned.

More information and links –

See more pictures from this walk on the Flickr site

The Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association

Eastwood & Its Collieries

On Wikipedia –

Bennerley Viaduct, Erewash Canal, River Erewash, Nottingham Canal

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