Today I’m left with vivid memories of abundant greenery along the canal for most of the way. I started off from the Town Lock in the middle of Retford but within minutes I seemed to be surrounded by trees. The canal crossed aqueducts, including one over the River Idle, and then with the King’s Park on the right and a massive manicured cemetery on the left I was in the countryside. A few old wharves were evident and then the West Retford Lock. Close to town was popular with dog walkers, one lady pushing a baby buggy had a little terrier close behind, as she passed me I realised another terrier was having a ride in the babyless buggy – arthritis was her excuse.
I hadn’t gone far when I came across boats moored up and their owners engaged in canal side chat. Most times you pass moored vessels all you are aware of is some smoke from the chimney with the occupants tinkering deep inside out of view. Anyhow, these three were very sociable as we discussed the difficulties of restoring canals. I was able to chip in with the Lancaster – Kendal problem which they seemed to know all about. As with yesterday’s couple drinking wine I’ve never been offered even a cup of tea from a canal boat. I’m sure Sir Hugh will have partaken.
Lady Bridge, number 54, had good examples of the grooves cut into the stone by the horses tow-ropes. Nearly all the bridges and locks on the Chesterfield Canal have been given names with past associations, I suspect it was a very sociable trade being a boatman along here.
The next sequence of narrow locks were named after the Forest of Sherwood which extended this far in the C18th. The third one was named Charlie’s after the lockkeeper who live in the adjoining house. More open countryside bordered the canal with rich looking sandy soil. However, there were still a lot of trees bordering the canal, particularly some fine specimens of weeping willow.
A stretch of the canal ran alongside the A1 and the noise was only just tolerable, pity the people living there. The inviting looking pub, The Chequers at Randby, was on the wrong side of the water which was probably a blessing as I had a way to go. The canal twists and turns through the Randby Bends seemingly getting nowhere, but it is only cleverly following the contours.
I was now entering the estate of Osberton Hall and I found the towpath changing over to the left-hand bank – the owner of the Hall in the late C18th had an Act of Parliament keeping the towpath on the opposite side from his house. The landowning toffs have always been up to it, nothing changes. I managed a sneaky shot of the stately pile.
Now it was all semi urban scenery into Worksop. Interest was maintained by the defunct steam driven Bracebridge Pumping Station, for Worksop’s C19th sewerage. The canal then comes alongside a massive factory, apparently a flour mill. There were some pleasant canal side cottages still standing.
Then over the canal in front of me was a warehouse with direct access to canal boats moored below – the trap door is still there. The warehouse was at one time owned by Pickfords of removal fame but now functions as a coffee shop and gym, I had visions of a weight lifter coming crashing through. It was time to finish for the day.