Friday, 18 December 2009

Monmer Bridge to Clarke's Lane, Bentley Canal

Monmer Bridge to Clarke's Lane
Bentley Canal
December 2009

Monmer Bridge to Clarke's Lane is one of the most frustrating stretches of the old Bentley Canal, with it's line fairly apparent but mainly built over and almost totally inaccessable for about three quarters of a mile.


Remains of Spring Bank Bridge

It started off well enough  from Fibbersley, but with no formal access point at Monmer, the climb onto the embankment which replaced the bridge involves an ascent up a 45 degree slope and then a squeeze through an impossibly narrow gap. If that wasnt bad enough, the very boggy treck along the open strip of grass to reach Monmer was punctuated by an assortment of very angry dogs hurling themselves against the back fences of the adjoining properties. Thankfully, the planking held and we escaped, leaving a chorus of canine howls and snarls behind us.


Monmer Bridge (site of)


The curving line east from Monmer is very clear but is now given over to lorry storage, with the canal heading for the chimney in the distance. Progress along the line becomes impossible at this point and a diversion through the Ashmore Lake Industrial Park is called for. With a bit of searching you can recross the line of the canal at Spring Bank Bridge, which carries Sharesacre St, or what remains of it.


Views between Monmer Bridge and Spring Bank Bridge

Spring Bank Bridge remains intact, but completely buried and securing a photo of the parapet involved sinking waist deep into rubbish to the west. The view east over a large area of concrete hardstanding includes an old pipe bridge to the right of the line, spanning an infilled side arm now covered with a car repair works.


East from Spring Bank Bridge - two locks between here and the grey factory in the distance

The rest of the line to Sandbeds Bridge, which carried Charles Street, is completely obliterated and built over. No amount of poking and prying in the area offered any more glimpses of canal track, which is a shame as there used to be two locks in this length.

Beyond Charles Street the line of the canal pushes on into yet another closed works site, this time securely locked and resistant to light trespass. Another diversion to the north and then the line can be found emerging as a stretck of open grass, which includes the site of the bottom Sandbeds Lock, before climbing over yet another embankment built to replace Clarke's Lane Bridge.


West from Clarke's Lane
Whilst this is not the most spectacular stretch of canal to follow, a number of the old industrial sites which line the canal will have been there in it's heyday, and therefore what one loses on the route one gains in atmosphere.

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