Tuesday, May 25th, 10 miles. Killamarsh to Chesterfield.
Rain was forecast for the afternoon, so I boarded the first bus to Killamarsh, it took well over an hour to reach the destination having travelled around most of the Chesterfield district. I’ve become used to sitting for all this time with my face mask on. Calling at the hospital we picked up a drunk who had probably been released from casualty, as could be expected he caused some chaos on board before staggering off in the middle of nowhere.
I alighted at the Canal Bridge stop where I finished yesterday, but it was difficult to make out the bridge as the canal was filled in, encouragingly though was a sign for The Cuckoo Way to Chesterfield. The Greenway runs all the way to Renishaw and is a facility I hope the locals make use of, there were very few on it today. So I disappeared into the undergrowth on the edge of a housing estate. The line of the canal was just a ditch to my left, at least it doesn’t seem to have been built over. The Cuckoo Way roundels, which I explained yesterday, were a help in navigating where the canal has all but disappeared.
Turning a corner the Trans Pennine Trail cycling route appears to the right following an old railway line. One could walk on the cycleway but I preferred to stay on the “towpath”. All of a sudden there was water in the canal, this section has been a fishery part of the Sitwell Estate. Coming towards me was a gentleman and his hound, he turned out to be the water bailiff for the estate. During the periods when we’ve not been allowed to travel far local fishing became a boom pastime and he was kept busy supervising the waters. He told me of the plans to restore more stretches of the canal, how to save and transfer the fish and how the line of the HS2 was coming through the region adding complications to the scheme. In this age of zoom conferences and working more from home will another railway be needed? The canal reverts to a ditch farther on.
The Greenway continued at times narrow and muddy, at others alongside the redundant canal. The cycle way has gone elsewhere. It passed the outskirts of Renishaw and then as a footpath following the filled in canal across open fields. Good progress was made as the way was clear ahead, although I had no idea of where I really was.
A lot of work is being undertaken at Staveley with a new lock and a basin constructed. This is some achievement as much of the labour is voluntary, Chesterfield Canal Trust. It was easy to get lost here with the new works and the many cycle routes.
Lunch was eaten on a bench next to the old Mill Green bridge. Men were fishing in the basin using very lifelike lures. As I sat two vessels came up the canal. The first powering a reed cutter and his mate using a rake to clear the water. In front of my eyes, the raker pulled a bath out of the canal – catch of the day. A little farther along he’d netted a bike and a supermarket trolley or were they art installations?.
Entertainment over, I set off on the last few miles into Chesterfield. The towpath remained good and a café was open at Hollingwood Lock. On this section to Tapton new locks and bridges have already been built, and the canal is viable, although the only two boats I saw were from the Canal Trust used for pleasure trips raising money for the restoration cause. If you had a boat why would you put it on a section of canal only navigable for six miles.
The end of the 6mile navigable section is short of the city and the rather dreary water comes to an end by building development sites which were basins in the years of the working canal. There are plans for a new showcase canal basin close to the city centre.
On reflection, I think it would be better to walk the way in the opposite direction with a far better finish at the Trent in West Stockwith.