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The charity making life better by water

Ariel shot of a lock on a sunny day with fields running alongside

Grantham Canal

Since the Grantham Canal closed to boating in 1929, nature has reclaimed it. It is still mostly full of water, and is a valuable wetland habitat, running through the arable landscape of the Vale of Belvoir.

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Much of the canal is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, home to a rich diversity of wildlife. The reedbeds are home to rare bird species including sedge warbler, reed warbler and reed bunting. The towpath has been rebuilt as a lovely walking and cycling route.

The Grantham Canal Society is working on ways to restore the canal for boats, while preserving it as a space for nature. A stretch of canal from Woolsthorpe to the A1 near Grantham is now once again navigable and the Society runs boat trips there.

Family days out

Our canals are rich in history and wildlife, making for great spots for a family day out. Nottingham is particularly blessed with several must-see locations on its doorstep.

Woolsthorpe is a great place for a short walk along the canal; for a longer walk you could follow the Grantham to Bottesford Railway Walk which includes several miles along the towpath.

The history

Conceived during the 'Canal Mania' years at the end of the 18th century, the canal was a profitable enterprise up until the arrival of the railways in the 1850s. A gradual decline in traffic led to the canal being abandoned by the London & North Eastern Railway, its then owners, in 1936.

Much of the canal remained in water due to agreements for irrigating agriculture, although a section at Cropwell Bishop was allowed to dry out. The rural route of the canal meant that it escaped infilling, though a railway embankment was built across the canal at Woolthorpe in the 1950s and has had to be excavated.

Many hump-backed bridges were replaced with flat bridges over the years, and this has also created an obstacle to navigation.

photo of a location on the canals
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