It's been a year since I started to walk the line of the Cromford Canal with Tilly. Her school is nearby and walking lengths makes a very agreeable focus for our days out. I can't believe that we undertook our first canal walk along the restored northern section from Cromford when the frost was on the ground last winter and here we are, twelve months later, finally finishing the last section in similar conditions.
Codnor Reservoir Ironville
Our last outing took us to Pinxton and the Smotherfly opencast mine, so today we drove to Ironville and parked up beside the picturesque Codnor Reservoir.
Whereas my BCN canal hunts call for copious amounts of research and an super abundance of imagination, this last (or maybe it would be more appropriate to call it the first) section offers a huge amout to see. Were Tom Cruise and the cast of Top Gun to visit the area on a photography trip, I am certain that they would refer to it as a "target rich environment". No sooner have you left the reservoir behind (the canal actually took a path along the southern shore) than you are in among a dense grouping of locks, dropping the canal sharply to the Erewash Valley.
The first thing one notices about these locks is that they are wide beam, which is in contrast to the later sections to Cromford and Pinxton which were constructed to the narrow seven ft width. But it's not just the width of the locks that come as a surprise, it's the state of them. Sure the gates and paddle gear is all gone, but the chambers are all intact and virtually ready for reinstatement. The stream coming out of the reservoir above cascades down the canal bed and through the chambers, most of which are guarded by wooden rails.
This length is accompanied by a well maintained footpath and the locks are all resplendent with evocative name signs like Boat Dock Lock and Potteries Lock. The signing dosn't end with the locks, even the bridges bear "BW lookalikes" with white numbers etched onto black plastic plaques. The amazing thing is that these sign are still in place in spite of a steady traffic of local young people who seek out the privacy of the canal bank in the manner observed in most town and cities.
So, the canal tumbles it's way down the hillside, lock chamber followed by reed filled deep pounds in such repitition that I lost count of the number of locks in the flight, at least six or seven I would guess.