A comment from a reader who had walked my ‘Up the Nottingham and down the Erewash’ canal walk published in Images May edition, drew my attention to the fact that it is possible to expand May’s walk as a figure-of-eight, starting and finishing at the same place near Ilkeston; namely the sports ground opposite the Gallows Inn on the Ilkeston/Stapleford/Nottingham road.
This walk is the result of that prompting and can be followed either as described, or added to the May walk, making a full day’s long walk of about twelve miles. However, if the distance is a bit too much, this shorter version can be enjoyed as an easy five mile stroll.
The walk, as I say, starts by the regrettably, still closed when I last passed it, Gallows Inn, and follows the Erewash Canal downstream (yes I know it is a canal, but that is the way it flows), in the general direction of Trent Lock, but only as far as the M1 motorway. Here the walk leaves the Erewash Canal and follows the line of a long abandoned colliery railway into Trowell where it joins the silted-up section of the Nottingham Canal. This canal is then followed as far as a side path leading to the Gallows Inn on the Erewash Canal. Incidentally and trying not to be pedantic, because of silting it is hard to say which way the Nottingham Canal flowed. An advantage of this silting is that the old waterway has become a linear wildlife sanctuary where water loving plants such as yellow flag irises and water lilies offer shelter for fish and fowl alike.
Two interesting man-made features above and away from both canals are passed along the way. The first is the much scaled-down remnant of Stanton Ironworks where until recently, water pipes, grid tops and manhole covers were made. Mostly these were cast iron, but the firm also ‘spun’ huge concrete pipes as well. Stanton’s was the first place of employment for the Ilkeston born actor Robert Lindsay who as a boy swam in a section of the Erewash Canal warmed by waste water exhausting from a cooling process within the works.
The second feature of note is the village of Trowell. In the 1950’s during the Festival of Britain it was considered to not only be in the geographical centre of England, but an example of the typical English village. Nowadays, modern development has spread across the older part of the village and the only link with its temporary glory is the name of its main pub – the Festival Inn, behind which is the section of the Nottingham Canal followed by this walk.
5 Miles (8km), of easy walking, mostly on level well surfaced canal-side towpaths.
Recommended map: Ordnance Survey Explorer 1:25,000 scale, sheet 260, Nottingham and Vale of Belvoir.
Public transport – frequent buses between Ilkeston and Nottingham as far as the Gallows Inn.
Parking (free) next to Ilkeston Rugby Club sports field off the Stapleford/Nottingham/Ilkeston Road.
Refreshments: Festival Inn at Trowell (slightly off route), Trowell Garden Centre and Café on the Gallows Inn Industrial Estate near the end of the walk.
- From the sports ground turn left out of the car park and join the Erewash Canal towpath.
- Follow the canal past Hallam Fields Lock and continue beyond the boundary of Stanton Ironworks which is above the opposite bank.
- Keep on the canal path where a side path, the Nutbrook Trail, joins from your right.
- Go past Junction Lock and as far as the M1 motorway.
- Go under the motorway and immediately leave the canal by turning left to climb up to Moorbridge Lane.
- Turn left on the road and follow it over the railway bridge and as far as a line of terraced houses.
- Turn left down a track at the side of the first house.
- Continue along the slightly elevated track, alongside the River Erewash for a little way and past a water meadow as far as an estate of modern houses.
- The track leading to the estate is all that remains of an old colliery railway. Boggy land between the houses and the modern railway line has become a wetland nature reserve.
- Following occasional waymarks and signposts, walk through the estate.
- Cross the busy road and continue along the backs of houses and on to playing fields.
- Where the path begins to climb slightly, turn left at a finger post and continue over a railway footbridge and climb up to the Nottingham Canal.
- This section of the canal is shared with Robin Hood Way, a long distance trail around the City of Nottingham. Most of the land immediately surrounding the abandoned canal is classified as a nature reserve, an ideal habitat for water-loving plants and animals.
- Turn left along the towpath and follow it towards Trowell Garden Centre (refreshments available and the Festival Inn is accessible away from the canal to your left).
- Return to the canal and follow the path until it goes under the motorway for a second time.
- Continue along the canal in a broad right-hand sweep as far as a side path going left.
- Follow this path, over a railway footbridge and down to the busy main road.
- Turn right at the road and follow it back to the Erewash Canal beside the Gallows Inn. (n.b. there is no footpath along the road at first when leaving the path).
- Turn left below the canal lock, go under the road and back to the car park.