Saturday, 28 May 2016

Nutbrook Canal - Pewt Golf Course to Mapperley Brook

Nutbrook Canal - Pewt Golf Course to Mapperley Brook
May 2016

The route north from Moor's bridge is aided by national cycleway 67, but I wouldn't suggest you bring your bike. On this occasion I was travelling with my NBF (New Best Friend) otherwise known as my Apple i-phone and I made full use of its GPS capability, draining out the battery in a single afternoon.

The thing is that whilst the cycleway closely follows the line of the canal, its not on the towing path which lies in the trees maybe 50 feet to the west. I had carefully transposed the canal route to a modern map using the Library of Scotland's excellent side by side map facility, the 1850 map faithfully tracing the route on its modern equivalent. This knowledge, coupled to the precision of the location finder on my phone gave me good warning of when I need to dive off the broad road (which the Good Book tells us leads to destruction) and onto the narrow route (which of course leads to salvation). 

This policy stood me in good stead when searching for the remains of Lock 8 (Pewit Lock), which I knew was located somewhere parallel to a large lake. The GPS suggested somewhere close to the southern end so into the undergrowth I bashed and nearly fell over the stone lock coping of the flooded lock. 



Pewit Lock (8)

I pressed on in search of Lock 9 Limekiln Lock following the line of a canal brimming with water. This led to a railway bridge which at first glace had two arches both of which were too narrow for a wide beam boat. However, this bridge was altered long after the canal was closed and closer inspection revealed the insertion of new brickwork. Remove the brickwork and you have a perfectly sized bridge hole.

Just beyond the bridge I climbed a narrow path finding myself on the edge of Limekiln Lock and uncannily standing in just the same place as Peter Stevenson was photographed back in 1966 (when I was five). 




Limekiln Lock (9) 1966 and 2016

The chamber is just as he saw it complete with gate recesses, groves for paddle gear, hinge stones and even wooden sealing strips. It may have been my imagination but I think that there are even metal remnants from the gate peeping out of the mud.



More of Limekiln Lock

North from Lock 9 the canal bed is pretty dry and reed filled to Hallam Wharf, site of a short arm linked to the local pits by a tramway. Just beyond the canal the Nutbrook also makes its first appearance, fed by mine water pumped from Woodside Pit in Shipley and subsequently filtered in settlement ponds which are on the line of the canal and cover lock 12 (Topside Nutbrook Lock) higher up the valley. This filtration system is to stop polluted water bubbling out of the Woodside mineshaft and polluting the ecology of the valley.


Iron Oxide from mine water

But we are jumping ahead. Just beyond Hallam Wharf the Mapperley Brook enters the canal and then there is the site of Mapperley Lock (Lock 10). The masonry has gone but the sound of water gushing over the descent is clearly audible in the undergrowth at the edge of the open country.


Site of the arm to Hallam Wharf


Nutbrook Canal above Limekiln Lock

From here we enter a large area of opencast mining which has obliterated the channel and all built structures. Lock 10 (Nutbrook Lock was just a few hundred yard further out on the opencast site whilst Topside Nutbrook lies beneath the settlement lagoons (see Google Earth for details). From there the canal made a beeline for the foot of the Shipley Dam passing under Parkers Bridge and through Top Lock (13) before entering the twin arms alongside Paul's Arm of the reservoir.


Overlooking Top Lock, terminus basin, collieries and old gasworks site.

Sadly you will have to take my word for the final three quarter of a mile which has departed this world leaving only a map entry to mark its passing.

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