Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Up the Erewash

I don't know what happened to the title of yesterday's post. I gave it one, quite a good one I thought, but "Blogger" obviously didn't think so and didn't publish it. Anyway "Squeezing into Shardlow" is now fully-titled!

We set off today from Shardlow at 08.00 heading for the Trent. I'm not at all sure about rivers and I don't mind admitting to a few nervous moments. The Trent seems so big after the narrow canals of the midlands.

It also seemed to be flowing quite strongly, with the flood boards only just in the green. Coming from Shardlow you get two goes at the Trent - either side of the Sawley cut that avoids the weir - and from there you get this dramatic view of the cooling towers of Ratcliffe power station on the Soar.
Ratcliffe power station from the Sawley Cut
I knew I'd have to make the tight turn under the bridge and into Trent Lock for our trip up the Erewash Canal and had positioned myself perfectly for it when I noticed not one but two boats leaving the lock and heading my way. On a canal it would be an easy matter to sit and wait for them to clear the junction; not so on the river, although at least I now know my reverse gear will actually move the boat backwards on a fast-flowing Trent.
There was also a boat waiting to go into Trent Lock: "Meand'er", crewed by a couple who'd been living aboard her for five years and cruising the waterways. It was a great help to be able to share the locks with an experienced crew and apart from our respective meal breaks, which came at different times, we shared the locks all the way to Langley Mill.
What is there to say about the Erewash? Well, its an urban - or rather suburban - waterway passing through large areas of housing and light industry with occasional green spaces particularly towards the top end. The locks are broad, slow filling with heavy gates and the bridges are low - some very low. But it's deep, has very clear water, was weed and rubbish free and has well-maintained towpaths. Gongoozlers and towpath walkers are largely friendly. We did see some dodgy characters hanging around Long Eaton lock and a few kids bunking-off school in Ilkeston, but neither of them gave us any trouble.   After a dull but dry day the rain returned in the afternoon and we arrived at Great Northern Basin, junction of the Erewash, Cromford and Nottingham Canals (the last two now closed) at 18.30 in a downpour.
A few photos:
I think everyone who comes up the Erewash takes a picture of this former mill.

There are some green sections. This is Stenson's Lock
Some of the bridges are very low. "Meand'er" had to stop to clear some stuff off the roof.

Great Northern Basin. Nottingham Canal goes off to the left.
Tied up above the top lock (which is actually the bottom lock of the Cromford Canal)
 All-in-all the Erewash is probably a canal for the enthusiast rather than the holidaymaker. The nice bits don't really make up for the grot around Long Eaton and Ilkeston and other than the historical interest of Great Northern Basin there isn't really a lot to see when you reach the end. But I'm glad we came, I enjoyed it and I'm sure I'll enjoy it on the way back again tomorrow

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