The Coffin Walk - Part 04
w/e 17 June 2012
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

The name of this walk is probably a misnomer for although it does indeed start along the Coffin Walk from Breaston towards Church Wilne, the final stages of the route, accounting for some 40% of the total length, are along the line of the former Derby Canal, which accordingly should have an equal if not greater claim to the circular walk's title.

Left towards BorrowashRight towards DraycottWe begin this fourth part at the end of Nooning Lane where it meets Derby Road. Whilst our route is to the right towards Draycott (right), it is easier and safer to cross Derby Road by turning left towards Borrowash to take advantage of the pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road (left). This is at a rise in the road which marks the point where it rose to cross over the former canal.

Derby Road Entrance

Once across Derby Road and heading towards Draycott, the entrance to the canal towpath is well marked by a railing at the edge of the road and signs pointing to the foot and cycle path.

Towpath EntranceRBS InscriptionAnd more signage just inside the entrance (left) indicates that this is Route No. 6 in the National Cycle Network. The decorated post is also marked "Millennium Project" and supported by National Lottery Funds. Another inscription (right) reads "This is one of 1000 mileposts funded by the Royal Bank of Scotland to mark the creation of the National Cycle Network."
Former Wharf

Initially the path and canal route run parallel to Derby Road and old maps show this section as being a wharf so presumably it was the location of one of the places where cargo which in the main was coal, could be transferred to and from the narrow boats or barges.
Flood Alleviation Scheme

The canal route then turns and runs diagonally across country between Derby Road and Hopwell Road. The Derby and Sandiacre Canal Society are successfully campaigning and working to get the canal restored and although most of the route has been filled in, this section has been dug out again as part of a flood alleviation scheme. It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to see the canal again full of water and narrow boats floating sedately along its length when seen from the corner.
Canal Crossing

But there are still many obstacles to be overcome not least the creation of bridges such as here where a farm track crosses the canal midway along this straight run. The Trust are working towards a 20 year target which makes the canal's original construction even more remarkable. It was a testimony to the men who worked on the canal for the whole 14½ mile length from the Trent and Mersey Canal at Swarkestone to Derby and Little Eaton, including this section to the Erewash Canal at Sandiacre. It was fully completed in 1796 after its authorisation by an Act of Parliament only three years earlier.
Draycott & Beyond

Our route from Breaston took us through the southern edge of Draycott but having continued up Nooning Lane we are now passing to the north west of the village. Through a gap in the hedge where the farm track crosses the canal a view across the flat landscape towards Draycott again shows the prominence of the former Victoria Mills factory in the village. And further on smoke and steam can be seen rising from the chimneys and cooling towers at the Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station.
Fields Farm

But most of the views along this section of the walk are very similar with the canal to the left of path. Nearing Hopwell Road however, a large building beyond the canal betrays the location of Fields Farm.
Information Board

Although coal was the main cargo carried on the canal, corn and stone were also carried along with something that eventually led to the decline of the canal. That something was rails and it was the railway network that eventually became the preferred mode of transport for much of the canal's former trade. It was not until 1964 however that the canal was finally abandoned much of it being filled in. The aforementioned Canal Trust who plan to restore the canal will have to overcome another obstacle here where the road crosses at the same level but an information board near the crossing not only details some of the canal's history but also plans for the future. For more information visit the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Society website.
Hopwell Road

The road which crosses the canal is Hopwell Road and leads directly into the centre of Draycott.
Cycle Route 6

Our route though back to Breaston is to continue along the canal route via the footpath and cycle way. The canal is less obvious here but a prominent sign indicates that this is still the National Cycle Route No. 6. We'll return here for the fifth and final part of the Coffin Walk.
Back to Part 03
Forward to Part 05

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