Grantham Canal

This special nature site starts at the village of Harby and extends through the rural landscape of the Vale of Belvoir to Redmile Village. Nearly seven miles are now protected by their SSSI status.

Grantham Canal SSSI Grantham Canal SSSI

Why it's so special

The Grantham Canal runs for 33 miles from Grantham to West Bridgford, connecting into the waterway network via the River Trent and along its length it falls through 18 locks.  It was opened in 1797, primarily to transport coal to Grantham from the Nottingham coalfields, but was eventually closed in 1936 following its sale to a railway company.

Over the next 45 years, with most of the canal being kept in water due to its function of water supply to agriculture, nature really had a chance to take a hold. The lowering of its bridges inadvertently helped by preventing through navigation. The middle section was eventually designated a SSSI by the Nature Conservancy Council (Natural England today) in 1981.

It is recognised for containing some of the best areas of open water and associated marginal habitats in Leicestershire and is representative of slow river vegetation communities in central and eastern england.

This special wildlife section supports a diverse range of flora including rare water plants, along with many species of breeding bird and water insects.

The plan

The main threats impacting on the ecology of the site today are a decline in water quality through siltation, the spread of wetland grasses and non-native plant species – such as the notorious water soldier. The rare aquatic plants and marginal fringe plants are fighting for space within ever diminishing sections of open water and need our support to help them thrive.

Many plants and animals are still left but numbers are reduced. But thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are continuing to manage this special area for wildlife and visitors to enjoy for futures to come.

What we've done already

Thanks to the support though funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery:

  • Sensitive dredging at Harby, to provide additional open water habitats.
  • A pilot non-native invasive plant survey, in preparation for a canal weed management plan.