Autumn Footprints 2022 - Erewash Meadows Living Landscapes
w/e 25 September 2022
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Nikon D3300

Autumn Footprints

About halfway through the Festival there was a Wildlife Walk with representatives from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and also the Cromford Canal and Codnor Park Reservoir Group. They work closely together to maintain and look after much of the landscape covered by this walk. It was classed as an easy to moderate walk of a little over 2 miles and actually began (and ended) in Nottinghamshire at the Jacksdale Community Centre. Below are just a few images taken on what proved to be an informative and enjoyable walk.

Jacksdale Wharf

We left the car park at the Community Centre and walked into Wharf Green, the Recreation Ground between Main Road, Jacksdale and the River Erewash. On the right hand side of the path is a grassy area bounded by the wall shown above which was the edge of the basin off the Cromford Canal where coal from was once transferred to barges for transportation along the canal. The basin has now been filled in otherwise we would have been standing up to our necks (at least) in water!
Restored Bridge

We made our way from Jacksdale Wharf to the edge of the Cromford Canal crossing the River Erewash, the boundary between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, on the way. Reaching the Cromford Canal we were shown a number of old photographs of what the area used to look like. This particular black and white image shows the same bridge over the canal which has been restored by a local stone mason who lives in Jacksdale. The new stonework will eventually weather to match the original structure of the bridge.
Cromford Canal

The Erewash Meadows Nature Reserve lies on both sides of the River Erewash all the way from Jacksdale to Langley Mill and is in three sections. The southern area is called Aldercar Flash, the middle section Brinsley Meadows and the northern part which we walked through on this walk is along the disused Cromford Canal. The bulrushes are a sign of the water's purity which is tested regularly by the
Reservoir Group to ensure it is free of nitrates and other pollutants.

We soon came to a dam which has been constructed across the canal and a discussion ensued about the different aims of various groups. The Friends of Cromford Canal for example have a long term ambition to restore the canal to its former glory but the aim of the Wildlife Trust is to preserve the habitat for the likes of water voles and to create wetlands and grasslands in the Erewash Valley. Both are admirable concerns but the outcome is still a long way ahead.

The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, and the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for that matter, both have their own livestock which are used to graze the grasslands. They have insufficient stock however to cover all their needs so contracts are in place with tenant farmers that allow them to put their own livestock on the fields at certain times of the year to keep the land in good condition.
Erewash Meadows

A little further along the Cromford Canal we reached the remains of a former railway bridge, known locally as 'The Black Bridge' which spanned the canal and originally formed a link between the Erewash Valley Line and the Great Northern Railway. We climbed the embankment and walked a little way along the route of the old railway line to where a gap in the trees provided a fine view over Erewash Meadows Nature Reserve to the south, the largest area of floodplain grasslands and wetlands in the Erewash Valley.

Wooded Area

Returning to the canal we continued south almost to Aldercar Flash and learned of the many different species of birds that had been spotted as well as the many invertebrates and water voles that inhabit the site. Eventually we crossed the canal and entered a wooded area on the other side.
Forge Site

This side of the canal is not owned by the Wildlife Trust and part of it belongs to the Coal Authority. But having passed through the wood some of which has sprung up on the old slag heap from the Codnor Park Forge Works, we emerged onto a privately owned area (open to the public) overlooking a pond and hay meadows which is renowned for being a favourite place to spot butterflies.The owners of the site were determined, to their credit, to preserve the site as a nature reserve rather than let it be developed as a building site.
Two Bridges

We continued around the pond and made our way back to the Cromford Canal which we crossed before returning to the restored bridge (just right of centre in the image above) that we had seen earlier at the start of the walk.
Erewash Bridge

Our walk concluded by crossing a third bridge, this one over the River Erewash, to return again to Nottinghamshire along the path to Jacksdale Wharf and the Community Centre car park.
Route Map

There's more about Erewash Meadows on the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust site here.

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