We set off this morning at 8am, to travel the Erewash Canal for the first time. It starts with houseboats on one side, and plenty of other moored boats, then at Long Eaton the canal goes along right next to a road.
We were pleased to see factories in Long Eaton making furniture. Sandiacre Lock has an attractive cottage alongside, now belonging to the Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association. They open it to the public once a month.
A little further along, Springfield Mill has been converted into what must be fantastic apartments, with very tall Windows, and rounded staircase turrets.
As you head out of Sandiacre, there's a nice view of St Giles Church, with farm stables below.
The locks are big and fairly deep, with some quite fierce paddles. Every one was full, so needed emptying before we could go in to go up. They're mostly a frustrating distance apart, to -- too far to walk, but not far enough apart to get much done. Many of the paddles are locked in a way we haven't seen before. A handcuff key is needed to undo a screw, to release them.
Ilkeston seems to accompany the canal for quite a lot of its length, with houses and light industry alongside. We also met plenty of chatty locals. By Bridge 21 in Ilkeston we met a widebeam coming the other way, the only other moving boat we've seen all day. We hoped that would mean the remaining locks would be empty -- the next one was, the one after that was half and half, and then we were back to full ones again. Above Stenson's Lock, the canal was covered in duckweed. It's only one leaf think, and the boat makes a cut through it, then it closes up behind you again.
The top end of the canal becomes more countrified again. This is waiting for Shipley Lock.
In spite of having to turn almost every lock, we made it to the Great Northen Basin in about seven and a half hours -- a bit less than the eight I'd been expecting. The final lock up into the basin is actually Lock 14 of the Cromford Canal. The Erewash, Cromford, and Nottingham Canals all used to meet here. We turned in the basin and moored up on the visitor mooring, nose to nose with Free Spirit.
Irene came out almost immediately to say hello and invite us for tea. We spend a good couple of hours chatting, first on board Free Spirit, and then on Briair Rose. Ian also went to get us our Erewash Canal brass plaque, which will join the collection later.
12 miles, 14 locks. (117 miles, 87 locks)