The Chesterfield is one of the network’s longer dead ends – a trickier one to get to, requiring a tidal passage on the River Trent from Cromwell Lock or Keadby. But it’s well worth the inconvenience, for the sake of visiting 32 miles of quiet and varied waterway stretching from West Stockwith via Retford and Worksop to Kiveton.
It’s a canal of several parts: beginning in the flat countryside by the Trent, it meanders vaguely westwards, briefly doubling back on itself, with a smattering of broad locks and the short Drakeholes Tunnel to keep up waterways interest. Passing through the old market town of Retford, it switches to narrow-beam and the locks start to come a little more often as it continues west through slightly hillier country.
At Worksop it changes again: the climb steepens, culminating in the Thorpe and Turnerwood flights – over 20 locks in a mile, many in curious shallow staircases. Finally, the three-mile summit leads through glorious hilly countryside to Kiveton village and the eastern portal of the abandoned Norwood Tunnel: one day it will continue all the way to Chesterfield.