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Ilkeston to Trent Lock: A microadventure on the Erewash Canal canoe trail

In anticipation of the launch of the new canoe trails, two members of staff from British Canoeing (Becky in the Communications Team and Jenny from Go Canoeing) headed out on their paddleboards to track along the Erewash Canal canoe trail on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border. 

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“Having owned a paddleboard for over a year and only managing to get out in it approximately twice, I arranged with Jenny, the Go Canoeing Manager, to try out one of the new canoe trails we have redesigned as part of a collection of 10. The Erewash trail seemed a sensible choice for our varied SUP experiences with a few portages and most importantly, a pub at the end!

“The canal trail is 6.5 miles long with 6 portages along the route and a couple of good picnic spots, pubs and points of historical value as you paddle the length of the canal.

“We parked one of our cars at Trent Lock and used the other car to drive to our start point – Gallows Inn Field, Ilkeston. The car parking is free at both carparks with toilets available at Trent Lock. 

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“Jenny and I were both completing the trail on inflatable SUPs, so after a good ten minutes ‘warm up’ pumping the boards to their required PSI, we headed to the bank of the canal to put in and set off on our microadventure down the Erewash Canal.

“As soon as you begin your adventure you’ll notice two things: firstly the tranquillity; in what is primarily a very industrial part of rural Derbyshire, you hear or see nothing to indicate this from the canal. It’s a quiet, peaceful, meandering route which will make you look at Ilkeston and Sandiacre in a completely different way. The second thing you’ll notice is the greenery! Lilipads, thick bushy hedgerows, weeping willows and butterfly bushes line the route from start to finish and create a joyful paddle like something straight out of a Beatrix Potter book. Neither words nor pictures can describe accurately how beautiful this trail is.

“If you’re a nature lover, this trail will set your senses alight. We saw everything from vibrant blue damselflies, fat brown dragon flies and moorhen ducklings running across lilipads, light as a feather. There were also some unusual crested ducks to be seen and beautifully coloured butterflies too.

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“After the first 3 portages, around 3 miles in, you will come across ‘The Plough’ pub and an old renovated mill building. From here, canal boats become more common and if you’re inquisitive like myself, you can see into the beautiful backyards and moorings belonging to people who live along the banks of the canal. It might also make you green with envy though!

“People enjoying a glass of wine in their gardens, cyclists, walkers and fishermen alike all commented on how much fun the paddleboarding looked… and it was! Standing up rather than sitting down made such a huge difference to how you viewed the canal. You could see right down into the water at all the fish and amphibian life under the lilipads, and you could see right down into birds nesting and over the paths to talk to people cycling past too.

“We eventually reached Trent Lock in around 3 hours by which time we were ready for a pint and some pub grub! The first trail had been a great success and we will definitely be back for more in the future. The trail is a great way to spend time on the water doing something new; who’d of thought industrial, rural Derbyshire would be so beautiful from the water? 

Written by Becky Lovatt

Photos by Jenny Spencer and Becky Lovatt