Monday, May 24th. 10 miles. West Stockwith to Clayworth.
The bus to W Stockwith went around the houses more than once, at one time reversing the way through Misterton. I have a tight logistical transport plan to enable me to walk linearly and I was beginning to see it go wrong on the first day, or is it the third? – it is too complicated to explain.
Suffice to say I started the walk at the canal basin next to the River Trent. Is this the start or the end of the canal, well it depends, but in my case it is the start. 46 miles to go.
The River Trent is wide here and tidal, boats used to access it from or to the basin by the first lock. The canal as far as Retford had locks wide enough to accommodate the larger River Barges. People are busy tinkering with their boats in the basin and the sign says the lockkeeper is on duty from his converted warehouse.
A few boats were moored up on the first stretch of the canal. The towpath surface to Misterton has recently been improved and there are benches at regular intervals, that’s a good start. The May Blossom was a delight, often lining both sides of the water, the theme of the day really. The sun was shining and the wayside flowers vying for attention. Life outside Lancashire was good.
Alongside Misterton, swans had made their nest on the towpath side, apparently if the male is on the path you had better turn around. Today he was too busy chasing ducks that came near the female on the nest.
The brick bridges are all numbered, counting down from 85, and modern mileposts are in place counting down from 45. I don’t know if any of the original mile markers have survived.
The rest of the morning is spent out in open countryside with hardly a habitation to be seen. I chat with a couple of lady dog walkers who tell me about the wild life I may or may not see. Kingfishers and otters are at the top of the ranks. One stretch of reeds is full of the song of Reed Warblers, but I only catch a glance of them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgFDzVeyg94
The surrounding countryside is flat agricultural land as far as the eye can see, there is nothing here for the fellsman. Having said that I do pass at a distance Gringley-on-the-hill, an ancient village with far-reaching views. I can just spot its church tower on zoom.
Lunch is taken sat on the steps of Shaw Lock. On the adjacent bridge are the initials of the builder and date. In a field nearby is an old brick works, boats brought coal in to a wharf and took the bricks out.
At the other end of the tunnel was a small wharf and across the road an Inn due to reopen soon, but will they still serve beer?
The next bridge along is named Face Bridge but the face on the keystone is very weathered. The bridge is ornate as it was the on the driveway to Wiseton Hall. The canal bends around the estate because the owner stated that it should not be built within 200 yds of the hall. The power of the upper classes.
There had not been much traffic on the canal but in the last mile along comes a boat and two men paddleboarding.
I need to pay attention to the bridge numbers as I leave the canal at no. 68, Otters Bridge, to climb up to Clayworth and the end of my first day. I arrive just as the rain does.