The Grantham Canal Walk (1): Nottingham to Cotgrave

Continuing the story of The Grantham Canal Walk with the first stage from Trent Lock to Cotgrave…

Well the first stage got off to a successful start. Mel came along and the three of us decided to drop a car at the final destination for the day, Cotgrave, before catching a bus to Trent Bridge for a short walk to the beginning of the Grantham Canal at Trent Lock.

The first mishap was a Barry Chuckle look-alike careering down the centre isle of the chicaning city-bound bus before finding an agreeable soft landing on an attractive lady sitting in the seats near the front. To me-to you.

The first picture taken was taken from Trent Bridge of Nottingham Forest’s City Ground home before we set ourselves up for a shot at the beginning of the walk at Trent Lock, just behind Forest’s Brian Clough Stand. Eleven forty-five and off and walking the towpath we were.The first noticeable thing about the canal was the amount of green algae choking the surface of the canal, often in an apparent marble mosaic. The bird life, though in preponderance almost appeared to struggle to wade through the stuff though seemed happy enough with their fate. Whilst intermittently hitting a main road or two in the early stages, apparent were the attractive gardens lined up and backing onto the canal. Some lovely summer spots for a spot of summer lazing indeed, though deserted at this working hour.

Barbara and Stu at Trent Lock, Nottingham
ready to commence the Grantham Canal Walk

As one might expect being in the city, the early stages of the canal showed some abuse of its presence. Littering in the form of cans, bottles and traffic cones in the water were pretty evident and sad to see though hardly unexpected. All this would be the full experience of traversing the entirety of the canal, warts and all.

The first of the killer-swans was encountered shortly on. Has anyone really ever heard of one of these creatures breaking a person’s arm? Maybe it’s a fallacy not unlike the one of the common Robin nesting in a copper kettle? Have you ever seen either actually happen? Answers on a ten pound note please. Anyway a plea to the Robins out there – use your imagination for goodness sake folks.

It look a little while and the passing of the Gamston area before one truly felt one was on a genuine walk as opposed to a dog-walker’s stroll. After that point the sepia coloured, parched countryside sprawled ahead and around us, punctuated only by the buzzing of light aircraft from nearby Tollerton Airport and the odd seasonal combine harvester throwing dust high and wide in the surrounding fields. My expectations were reasonably low-key for this initial stage of the long-distance path but this proved to be something of an error of judgment.

Another extremely hot July day saw us all reaching for the cold but rapidly warming drinks regularly whilst walking along the early stages of the waterway. The temperatures were again measuring in the early thirties’ in this magnificent summer and complete with a welcome breeze gave enjoyable if testing conditions to begin the long-distance walk.

Passing the rear of a Morrisons supermarket at Gamston and the busy main road nearby issued us our last hurrah for the city. From them on it felt like the real item with mainly just the three of us and the canal for company.

More killer swans were spotted eyeing the walking party. This resulted in our fearless team walking in single file past them, arms folded carefully in case of arm-fracturing attack. Only Mel failed to realise the killer-swan etiquette and this pre-empted a warning fresh-air peck which missed by a good eighteen inches and a little of that nasty hissing from a signet. Terrified, me? Quite clearly.

“Oi! Did you spill my pint?”

We passed through Cotgrave Country Park which was developed in the early 1990s’ from funds made available for the regeneration of the nearby town. Whilst normally in favour of this type of work carried out in the environment, one can only wonder if the cash may have been better served in helping the large workforce of the Cotgrave Colliery back in to work after the closure of the mine. It might be asked what happened to all those redundant miners after the local pit closure of 1993. Safe to say they weren’t all employed in resurrecting the Grantham Canal. Mini-cab anyone?

Young lads played at one of the old locks, dive-bombing into the water on this hot day and looking forward fondly to the onset of Salmonella whilst their friends looked on, glass fibre fishing rods in hand, wondering blankly perhaps why their keep nets were empty for the day. The country park otherwise appeared very little used which seemed a great pity, especially on a day such as today.

Along the course of the five or six miles we had seen little use of the canal environs. The footpath was in the main excellent and comparatively recently surfaced. Certainly the path would have been useful for recreational cycling as well as walking but to no avail it seems – certainly not on today’s evidence. One might wonder how the expense of a full regeneration of the canal might ever be justified on the basis of the few people that appear to actually use it. A sad conundrum.

Finally we turned our backs from the canal and headed down Hollygate Lane back to Cotgrave to end our walking for the day. A quick stop at the local supermarket for a sandwich and on to a welcome drink or two in the garden of The Rose and Crown ended the day in happy style.

“Would you like to meet this pair alone at night on a canal?” Although apparently under the influence of strong drink, upon closer inspection the vessel in my fellow walker’s hand is an empty Lucozade bottle. Mel and Barbara go ‘wild in the country’ nearing the end of stage one.

The question was asked amongst ourselves as to the last visitors to the pub who had actually walked the miles from Nottingham? Perhaps we do other canal workers an injustice though. The welcome at The Rose and Crown from the girl behind the bar was overwhelming. Never before have I been somebody’s ‘love’, ‘darling’, ‘sweetness’ or ‘sweetheart’ quite so many times. I’m sure it was all meant and I shall be looking to revisit this establishment in the near future to cement the relationship, naturally.

The afterburn was just that. After wandering down that canal for a few hours I felt a little burnt – and slightly frazzled. To this end some headwear will be a consideration for subsequent walks. Under scrutiny is a full Native American head dress for the remaining duration of the canal – because I can. The last sentence is not the result of sun-stroke. Oh no.

Next – Cotgrave to Kinoulton.


7 thoughts on “The Grantham Canal Walk (1): Nottingham to Cotgrave”

  1. Looks like a great walk-just the right kind of bus entertainment and stella bar staff. [erg..sorry about the pun]
    Have you ever done the cut by boat? I recommend it.

  2. I think the cut is one of the loveliest parts of the canal, Shell and I’d love to take a boat down there. Hopefully in time more and more of the old waterway will be opened up to the boaters again. It certainly is tragically underused in all respects we thought.

  3. Interesting slant on this bit of the canal. Have walked the same route many times and yes, it is under subscribed. I suppose that keeps the wildlife safe and secure though. There are hosts of water fowl all along the route and kingfishers only a few paces further on than you reached. Also the canal is jamb packed with fish… guess they were a bit quiet the day you visited.
    The litter and unfortunately some graffiti seems to be within reach of the built up areas. The miscreants being extremely lazy as well as brain dead. A few hundred yards from Gampston or Cotgrave the litter tends to diminish thankfully. I am sorry to say that if this area gets the development that some would like we will all loose the wildlife and the litter and other damage will increase. Putting it fully back to water and introducing boat traffic would have a similar effect. That would be a sad shame.
    Take a look at the site when you get a minute.

  4. Thanks for your comments Russ. Interesting to hear your views on the area. I have popped across to your link site and singed the petition. I wish you success with that.

    When I set out with a friend to cover the whole length of the Grantham Canal it was with the perspective that it would be a ‘warts and all’ investigation. I had no great expectations of the first part of the walk from the Trent to Hollygate Lane but yet, in spite of the abuse you outline, really enjoyed the walk. Some of the photographs of that fine summer’s day would indicate how attractive it was in various places. More than that it’s industrial past was very interesting. Even those ignorant people who abuse the canal environs can’t take that away.

    Best wishes with your cause.

  5. hi there been looking at when u walked the grantham canal wonder if you could help we are walking from nottingham to skegness in july the first phase we aim to go via the grantham canal from the city ground area is the whole route open for walking or will we have to deveate at all thanx for any help.

  6. Hi Rob

    No, you can walk it all the way, which is exactly what we did. There are a couple of small things to look out for though. Shortly after heading off from the start the canal goes underground for a very short time. You just skip over the road regain it and follow it’s progress to the north side or Radcliffe Road. Secondly, there is a kind of a ‘false end’ when you get to Grantham. The canal just appears to stop when you reach a main road. Get onto the main road and follow it to the left. A little way up there is a turning up to a hotel. Just before the hotel the canal begins again to your right before finally ending at a bridge a healthy walk further on. Check the pics on my first and last installment and they may help you.

    Anything I can further help you with, give us a shout.

    Good luck with your walk, that sounds a cracker!


  7. Thanx for that gonna do a couple of short walks over the next few weeks to check things out thanx for your help.

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