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
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