Tag Archives: Chesterfield Canal

The Cuckoo Way


The Chesterfield Canal passes from the River Trent across Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and into Derbyshire.  This was one of the first canals to be constructed in England and because it was not connected directly with any other canal and was relatively short, the operators of the boats didn’t live aboard, allowing for more cargo and prompting the development of a unique style of boat only to be found along what was then called the “cuckoo dyke” by locals.

The canal is no longer navigable for it’s entire length and several miles are missing entirely but the canal towpath is still in place making for an obvious long distance footpath, aptly called the Cuckoo Way.  I like to walk the entire route every few years, usually taking three days to cover the 46 miles.  This year I opted to take four days and because of adverse weather, had to split that into two two-day sessions; not ideal but the older I get, the more of a “fair-weather walker” I’m becoming.  I’m not going to add all my photos to this post; I’ll just show the first and the last.  But if you want a virtual tour of the whole 46 miles, you can click on the slideshow and sit back and see what I saw as I walked from west to east along the whole route.


Crossing the River Rother in Chesterfield


West Stockwith Basin with the lock to the River Trent just opening


The alternative to shopping.


I was faced with a hard choice this morning.  I looked out of the window at the frost-covered lawn and the ice-encrusted puddles lit by the bright sun.  Hardly a breath of wind stirred and I thought to myself that it would be hard to imagine a better day to go winter walking.  Then Julie asked the question: do you want to go Shopping today or should I drop you off on the way to Sheffield so you can walk home?  What a quandary. Several hours plodding around a shopping mall or several hours out walking in this wonderful weather.  I pondered the choice for at least a millisecond then opted for the walk.

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Following the canal feeder


Every time a boater uses a lock on a canal, water flows down the system and that water needs to be replenished of course.  So how do the higher levels of the canal get the water they need?  This is one of the feeders for the Chesterfield Canal; a man-made stream bringing water from the River Ryton on a gentle gradient around the contours of the land and into the canal at Turnerwood.

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If I’d been born 250 years ago, a job as a canal engineer would have suited me down to the ground.  Travelling around the countryside surveying the land then building such marvellous structures; what a wonderful life.  Mind you, as the son of a coal miner the reality would probably have been very different.  No education and a short life doing a back-breaking job in filthy, dangerous conditions would almost certainly have been my lot.  On balance I’m quite happy having been born when I was.




Now there are stiles and there are super-stiles and this is one of the best I’ve ever seen.  And while I’m at it, hasn’t the weather been gorgeous these last couple of days.  Cool, crystal clear air and a bit of autumn colour still hanging around to contrast with the vivid blue sky.  I managed to get out on a couple of local walks and thoroughly enjoyed myself.



Walking home


I had to drop off the car for it’s MOT and rather than walk home through town, decided to take the much longer but far more pleasant route via the canal and the reclaimed mine spoil heap at Shireoaks.  Though cool and damp to start with, as the sun got higher it warmed up considerably and the day started to get a distinctly spring feel to it.  It made me wonder if winter is ever going to get started properly or are we destined to have nothing but the mild, wet, windy weather we’ve had so far.

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