Our arrival onto the Chesterfield canal was in glorious sun, but this didn’t last. The very next day, it rained and rained. The only dry place was our first tunnel of the trip! Having got the rain out of the way we then enjoyed a lovely cruise with lovely weather. We travelled through unbroken fields and woodlands. The canal meandered along, surrounded by the finest English countryside. A real blessing after the high banks of the Fossdyke.
This is a wide canal for the first few miles, with big heavy locks until you get to a lovely market town called Retford. We had a lovely stop here, enjoying a wander around their market and the lovely welcome from the locals. We also enjoyed a passing visit from our good friends Michael and Lesley who were passing through on their way home. From this point on, the locks became narrow and much easier to manage, so we had a very pleasant cruise to the next town Worksop. Unfortunately this was when the prop became very snarled up with rubbish. We sorted this out then hurried off back into the countryside.
Within a few short hours we were back in the very beautiful countryside at a place called Shireoaks. This was the start of a truly awesome stretch of canal, and an amazing feat of canal engineering. There are 23 locks made up of 13 single locks, 2 double locks and 2 treble locks that took us up through woodland and waterside cottages. We passed Aston sone quarries, the source of stone used in the construction of the House of Parliament, before reaching a sign stating, “last boaters winding hole.” Here we moored up and walked to the end of this stretch of the canal at the east end of the Norwood Tunnel that is now bricked up. We walked over the top of the tunnel to the fishing ponds, but decided against the walk to Chesterfield.
Having reached this point, the only choice for a boater is to turn around and return the way you’d come, which we did. We went back down the flight of 23 locks, again marvelling at the beautiful countryside. The scenery and wildlife was lovely. We saw our first cygnets of the year and loads of birds.
We did give Worksop another chance and went for a quick walk through the town, but weren’t bowled over by what it had to offer, and quickly went on our journey back to West Stockwith, ready for our next trip up the Tidal Trent. This time we had an early start due to the tide and were our of the lock into the Trent by 20 past 8. This time it was misty, but fortunately dry. We had an uneventful trip up the Trent arriving safely at Keadby lock ready for our adventure on the South Yorkshire navigations.
Stats :- 55 miles, 92 locks, 2 tunnels.