As our March walk was threatened by Storm Freya, with rain and wind forecast for the afternoon, it was decided to abandon the prepared walk from Ashover Rock and to walk the Chesterfield Canal instead.
We drove to the Hollingwood Hub car park and began the linear walk from there. Walking towards Staveley in light rain we passed a painted rowing boat, the Joan Amelia, filled with hellebores, daffodils, snowdrops and crocus plants, all in bloom. Bordering the canal we pointed out catkins, large buds of pussy willow, blackthorn in blossom and even some hawthorn bushes showing new leaves. On our right on the water were the usual ducks and Canada geese, one lone swan, but no other aquatic creatures could be seen. It would have been exciting to see a water vole.
We walked under three bridges, the first being so low that even the smallest of us had to crouch down. There was an alternative route but we like a challenge.
At one point we were travelling parallel to the Junction 29A link road and we saw 3 vehicles drive along it. This road has always seemed to be little used, but perhaps it’s important to some drivers.
We arrived at the Staveley Town Lock & Hartington Harbour. The Trust has spent over £200,000 on this project so far, with £100,000 coming from donations. Some wonderful building work has been accomplished, all done by volunteers. The canal runs for 46 miles from the River Trent to the middle of Chesterfield, linking Nottinghamshire, S. Yorkshire and Derbyshire. It features an underground canal at Hollingwood and ends up at what will be the £310 million Waterside development in Chesterfield. Since 1989, 12 miles of canal have been restored along with 37 locks and 11 bridges; 2 new marinas have been built. The latest section, Hartington Harbour was opened at the Festival held last year. There are 9 miles left to restore and the Chesterfield Canal Trust have set themselves a target of 2027 to finish the restoration work as this will be the 250th anniversary of the opening of the canal.
Arriving at a crossroad of paths we decided to take the route towards Poolsbrook before we turned around and retraced our steps. As we neared the car park heavy rain caused us to run towards the cars, but all had enjoyed getting out in the fresh air even though we were a bit wet.
The promised walk starting at Ashover Rock will now be attempted on Sunday 7th April, leaving the church gates at 12 noon. Please bring a packed lunch. Any new members will be made very welcome.