Bennerley Loop - Part 02
w/e 25 May 2014
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

It was another fine sunny day when we returned to Barker's Lock to resume a little bit more of the Bennerley Loop by repeating another section of the "Lock to Lock" series along the towpath of the Erewash Canal. (link)

Stenson's Lock

That section of towpath took us past the Nelson Street housing development on the other side of the canal and a coal distribution centre and Booth's Playing Field on the near side before a bend in the canal opened up a favourite view of Stenson's Lock.

Erewash CanalViaduct EmbankmentRising up a level at the lock we continued along the towpath passing an embankment that marks the end of the Bennerley Viaduct. A post at the foot bears a "Private Property - Keep Out" notice although the well-worn path up the slope is testament to its ineffectiveness. I don't recollect the notice from our previous visit (link) but a little further along the towpath, railings mark a footpath on the right.

Turning away from the canal we followed the path made narrow by the growth of trees and bushes on each side until it opened up to reveal a footbridge over the railway. It appears that at some time it its history the bridge was extended to carry foot traffic over an additional railway line.

From the extended bridge (top left) there are many opportunities to view most of the almost 500 yard length (460m) of the impressive wrought iron lattice work Bennerley Viaduct that was built to S Abbot's design by Richard Johnson in the late 1870s. The path from the footbridge leads almost directly to the viaduct and we crossed underneath (bottom left) for a closer view (right) at its method of construction. If memory serves me correctly I believe I was told that it was unique in that it was built in the manner of a wooden bridge and riveted together, a means of construction that proved difficult to demolish after the railway line that it carried ceased to operate in 1968. This eventually led to it being listed as a Grade II structure.
River Erewash

The viaduct carried the former Great Northern Railway Derbyshire and Staffordshire line across the valley of the River Erewash between Awsworth in Nottinghamshire and Ilkeston in Derbyshire with freight services operating for some 90 years between 1878 and 1968. Passenger services began a few months after freight and ceased in 1964. I still have vivid memories of crossing the viaduct some 60 feet above the river with school friends on a Christmas shopping trip to Nottingham about 1960.
Industrial Site

Crossing a road bridge over the river we entered Nottinghamshire in what is a rather desolate landscape but was once a hive of industry. By 1880 Bennerley Colliery that operated from here was already disused but Awsworth Iron Works and a Brick Yard were in full swing and by the early 1900s the site was known as Bennerley Iron Works. Now levelled the site to my way of thinking is, like many more similar sites in the country, ripe for redevelopment. We are often being told that there is a shortage of housing in the country and I would much rather see brown field sites such as this be deveoped before any green field sites are even considered.
Windy Winston

In the mid 1950s Tarmacadam works were on the site and railway lines from Bennerley Junction which was just north of the footbridge we crossed earlier ran along the hedgerow seen here and were known as Bennerley Sidings. Later the site became the Bennerley Coal Screening Plant and the remains of what appear to be the weigh bridge sit in the middle of the concrete road that runs through the site. A new addition to the landscape constructed in 2013/14 is Windy Winston, a wind turbine so named by children from a local school. The turbine is at Severn Trent Water's Newthorpe Sewage Works. It is an optical illusion but with little to compare it against the turbine does not seem as big from here as it does from the surrounding area. It is in fact 130m from ground level to blade tip which is about seven times higher than the more elegant viaduct nearby.
Erewash Valley Trail

We left the former industrial site and entered a small wooded area picking up the Erewash Valley Trail. The Trail is a 30 mile circular route linking Langley Mill in the north with Sawley in the south along both sides of the Erewash Valley. It was created by linking various towpaths, bridleways and footpaths etc to create a route enjoyed by both walkers and cyclists. In fact the first part of this Bennerley Loop walk along the Erewsh Canal is also part of the Erewash Valley Trail on the eastern side of the valley but passing through the trees we began to head southwards along the western side.

The Trail continues through the wood and past a green finger of grassland on the right which offers a distant view of Ilkeston in the far distance.
Squeeze Stile

A liitle further on after walking along another shady tree-lined path, the Trail picks up the disused Nottingham Canal just beyond the squeeze stile seen here and that is where we will start the next part on the "Top Cut".
Back to Part 01
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