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Sunday, 27 April 2014

A long way to the top.

After getting a paper and filling with water we set off. I thought that we would get about half way up the locks before the rain showers started. We set off and there were regular walkers and cyclists zipping past as we worked our way up the first eight Turnerwood Locks.

Turnerwood Locks on the Chesterfield Canal.

At Quarry Lock is a little ice cream shop so after eight locks I thought it was an appropriate time for a refresher, and it was lovely ice cream too. Just after was the first of the staircase locks. It wasn't made any easier by having a swan's nest by the top gate and the mate looking threatening each time I need to pass. A passer by later told me that the female is 25 years old and has now a young mate but for many years the eggs have been infertile so they haven't managed to fledge any cygnets. How sad.

Swan at Turnerwood Double Locks

The next thirteen locks are in the Thorpe Flight and they were the first locks to be built on the canal so date back from 1772 and are all Grade II listed. The scenery becomes even more beautiful and with a further two double and two treble staircase locks there is loads to keep the interest.

Almost halfway up the Thorpe Locks.

As I was ahead of Helen sorting the next staircase lock a guy opened the gate of the lower lock and then produced his windlass and proceeded to help me up the rest of the locks. He was very interesting and had worked on the Chesterfield for thirty years. At the start the top end was only used to supply the lower half so the locks were infilled and a channel of only 3' was maintained for the water. We set the world to rights and had a very good natter to the top treble and the time soon passed. In fact we got from Shireoaks to the top of the 23 locks in four hours which I didn't think was too bad at all.

Summit pound near Devils Hole Bridge.

Helen had been talking to some Gongozollers and they had told her that there was a beautiful bluebell wood back near the top locks so after a bite to eat we decided to walk back nearly two miles back to find it. On the way we passed the wharf where the most famous cargo carried on this canal was loaded. The Houses of Parliament was burnt down in 1834 and a nationwide search was carried out to locate just the right stone for it's rebuilding. The stone to be used was to be found at North Anston that is just over the boarder in Yorkshire but only six miles from the canal. The railways were in their infancy so it was decided to use the canal. Between 1840 and 1844 an average of about 400t a month was transported from the quarry by low wheeled wooden platforms, pulled by eight horses, to the wharf near Dog Kennel Bridge. From there it was placed into the narrow boats to be taken down to West Stockwith Basin where it was transferred into the Humber Keels to be taken down the Trent and Humber, down the East Coast and up the Thames to Westeminster. Each narrow boat took 15 to 20 tonnes. The average time for the stone to take between the quarry and London was two weeks. To move the stone six miles from the quarry to the stone wharf was 6 shillings per ton, and from the the stone wharf down the canal, down the Trent and Humber, round the coast and up the Thames only 10 shillings! The cheapness of transport by ships is still what is making trade viable as how else would it be possible to bring goods from China and elsewhere for less than the price of those made here.

Stone Wharf where the boats were loaded with the stone for the Houses of Parliament. I think the stone work at the top of the wall must have held planks steady as the stone was slid over into the boats. In the distance is Albert's Dock and one of the Chesterfield Canal Trust's trip boats.

Old Spring Wood with masses of bluebells, wood anemones and wild garlic.

The sun had stayed shinning despite the forecast of showers and it had been a lovely day.

On the walk back we stopped in the Station pub for a well earned beer. They had one real ale. Harts Desire by Hartshead Village Brewery and it tasted beautiful. We weren't on the mooring but when we arrived there was an angler on the official mooring and it wasn't in sun so we stopped just before.

Our mooring from Dog kennel Bridge.


  1. What a beautiful area. It looks as though your walk back to see the bluebell wood was certainly worth it, amazingly beautiful .

    Ann x

    1. Hi Ann, yes it was beautiful and there was so much more of the wood we didn't walk around. The country the top bit of the canal goes through is among the best we have seen so far. Hopefully there will be many more sights to see. Hope you are well. Cheers for now, Tony and Helen.