GREAT CANAL WALKS: TRENT TRAIL

The Trent Nav­i­ga­tion and the nat­u­ral river be­tween them form a cir­cuit tak­ing in busy cen­tral Not­ting­ham and some quiet coun­try

Canal Boat - - This Month - TEXT AND PIC­TURES BY MARTIN LUDGATE

Choose your own length for this stroll along a cir­cuit with a city cen­tre and quiet coun­try­side

Aformerly nav­i­ga­ble river, a sur­viv­ing frag­ment of a long-closed canal, and a river nav­i­ga­tion with an old-fash­ioned at­ti­tude to Sab­bath day ob­ser­vance, form an in­trigu­ing cir­cuit of wa­ter­ways around Not­ting­ham, com­bin­ing a lively city cen­tre with some sur­pris­ingly quiet scenery.

We start this walk at Not­ting­ham Sta­tion. This is partly for the ben­e­fit of those ar­riv­ing by train, but also be­cause it pro­vides op­por­tu­ni­ties for those who don’t fancy the full 9½ miles to cut their jour­ney short and re­turn – by train from Bee­ston af­ter four miles; by bus from Clifton Bridge af­ter six miles; or by tram from Wil­ford Bridge af­ter seven miles.

Leav­ing the sta­tion on the north side takes you quickly to the canal, where you turn left onto the tow­path. We say ‘canal’ but many boaters would think of the route through Not­ting­ham as part of the River Trent Nav­i­ga­tion, how­ever this length was orig­i­nally part of the Not­ting­ham Canal which once climbed through 20 locks to meet the Ere­wash and Cromford canals at Lan­g­ley Mill. Most of it shut in 1937, but this length sur­vived as part of the Trent through route.

Walk­ing west through the city, you pass ware­houses still sport­ing the name of the fa­mous canal car­ry­ing com­pany Fel­lows, Mor­ton & Clay­ton but now con­verted to new uses in­clud­ing a pub. Cas­tle Lock raises the canal a mod­est 4ft 6in to the level which con­tin­ues for over three miles to Bee­ston.

Grad­u­ally the city cen­tre is left be­hind, as you con­tinue west past Cas­tle Ma­rina and into the sub­urbs. New de­vel­op­ments give way to fac­to­ries, but they are of­ten screened from the canal by trees.

At Len­ton Chain comes a change – but not one you would no­tice. Some steel pil­ing is all that re­mains to show where the Not­ting­ham Canal once headed for Lan­g­ley Mill, but the name is a clue...

Here you join the Bee­ston Cut, a 2½-mile short-cut built by the Trent Nav­i­ga­tion Com­pany to link the Not­ting­ham Canal to the Trent above the city, thereby pro­vid­ing a by­pass around some tricky reaches of the river. The Len­ton Chain was stretched across the canal to pre­vent boats from pass­ing from one com­pany’s wa­ter to the other with­out pay­ing the toll and, it is said, to stop boats nav­i­gat­ing the Trent Nav­i­ga­tion’s wa­ter on a Sun­day – which the Trent com­pany didn’t ap­prove of.

Af­ter an in­dus­trial be­gin­ning, the Bee­ston Cut takes a pleas­ant route past a suc­ces­sion of play­ing fields as it heads for the Trent at Bee­ston Lock. Those want­ing to end their walk here can cross Bridge 19 and fol­low Meadow Road to Bee­ston Sta­tion for fre­quent trains back to Not­ting­ham; those con­tin­u­ing should re­main on the south side and fol­low the path as it turns left away from the canal on the ap­proach to the lock.

Here we leave the cur­rent nav­i­ga­tion and fol­low the nat­u­ral course of the Trent, which hasn’t formed part of the main Trent Nav­i­ga­tion since be­fore the Cut, the lock and the ad­ja­cent weir were built in 1796. That’s not to say it hasn’t been nav­i­gated at all – on your right, you can still see the re­mains of an old lock which al­lowed lo­cal traf­fic to ac­cess the

Not­ting­ham city cen­tre

Head­ing out of the city on the west side

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