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Wide shot of a canal on a cloudy day

Erewash Canal

The Erewash Canal is a wonderful route for exploring both the Derbyshire countryside that inspired DH Lawrence, passing past small towns and villages just outside Derby and Nottingham.

Erewash Canal

Length11.5 miles

Maximum boat dimensions

Length24.5m 80ft 4"
Width4.1m 13ft 5"
Draught1.22m 4ft
Headroom2.23m 7ft 4"

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The canal is very popular for walking and cycling in green and peaceful surroundings. It sees less boating traffic than some canals, so it is a great place for boaters to escape the crowds.

Trent Lock, where the canal joins the River Trent is not only a major waterways crossroads, but also a pretty picnic spot. Further north, you will discover Nutbrook Junction and Trowell Marsh, areas of nature reserve along the canal. The rich mixture of woodland, grassland and swamp makes this a great place to spot wildlife.

Days out

The history

There was much enthusiasm for the construction of this canal from supporters anxious to access coal and other goods along the Erewash Valley. Its enabling Act was passed in 1777 and, under engineer John Varley, the line was opened in 1779. The ensuing trade realised huge profits despite a mistake by Varley in calculating water levels, for which he was dismissed, that necessitated rebuilding the top lock only a year later.

The transportation of coal, quarry stone, bricks and metal goods at high financial return continued until the railways began to seriously erode profitability around the mid 19th Century. Through traffic via the Cromford and Nottingham Canals had collapsed and the only substantive operations remaining were in iron goods from the Stanton works and coal.

The Erewash Canal was bought by the Grand Union in 1932 and underwent a brief revival in carrying coal. More unusual cargoes included bomb shells during World War II and its last major commercial use was by boats serving Stanton.

In 1962 the former British Transport Commission declared the canal unnavigable above Gallows Inn to the north of the junction with the abandoned Nutbrook Canal.

In 1968 The Erewash Canal Preservation & Development Association was created and restoration work led to the Erewash Canal being upgraded in the 1980s from 'remainder' to 'cruiseway' status as defined by the Transport Act 1968. The Association celebrated its 40th Anniversary in 2008 with a special boat rally attended by over 100 boats.

photo of a location on the canals
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