A quiet afternoon walk through a “picture postcard.” The delights of a canal.
Easter Monday is one of those “peculiar and strange days” really, whilst it is first and foremost a Monday it feels like a Sunday and that is enough to confuse the mind really, but confusion aside, what else is there to do on an Easter Monday — Afternoon? Well a walk beckoned and this time it was time to head down to the canal and take in the glorious afternoon skies, with blue skies and some seemingly glorious clouds creating an added atmosphere of calm and serendipity. But the canal in question, well that is one which has an equally strange history to it. Arriving at Shipley Lock, a serene scene greeted me and the Erewash Canal towpath was just inviting, asking me to re-discover it’s ever changing curiosities and sounds. The first photographic opportunity was from the bridge over the Erewash Canal, in which the road eventually reaches MFN, the home and event venue of Malcom Allured, the former drummer of Showaddywaddy. But the view of the canal as it makes its way south was the first composition that I took, clear the skies and the infamous wind turbine known locally as “Winston” provided the main subject.
Many people might say “well a wind turbine within the landscape looks ugly” but somehow Winston in a strange way adds to the landscape and provides something of a curious Erewash Valley landmark, but instead of walking along the towpath in a southerly direction, it was a left turn and I began to walk in a northerly direction, of course though the interesting thing with the Erewash Canal is when it eventually gets to the basin at Langley Mill, it changes, no longer is the canal navigable but it also has a name change, from Langley Mill, the Erewash Canal becomes the Cromford Canal, and in times gone by, the Cromford Canal would have been navigable and would have linked the mining industries of the peak district and the cotton industries of the Derwent Valley within the Matlock area and Cromford Area towards Nottingham and other cities within England, now though the Cromford Canal remains quiet, unless you take the journey to Cromford where some more “intact sections” of the canal can be found along with more quirky history.
After photographing Winston, I paused for another brief second, and another composition had been found, this time with a natural frame of green and the unusual subject of the aptly named “Old Slaughter House.” was in front of me.
Something about the composition stood out to me and perhaps it was the framing, a hedge at the bottom providing the lower part of the frame with the trees and a glorious willow providing the other parts of the frame, it really was irresistible and I was impressed at how the photograph came out, calming and soothing thus gentle. But sometimes the best compositions are those in which natures frame can be used. And whilst The Old Slaughter House, might now be residential it has an interesting history to it.
After the beautiful framed photograph that I had taken of The Old Slaughter House, I walked a little further on the canal towpath in a northerly direction until I just had to stop on a small aqueduct, below The River Erewash, but what had I spotted? two Swans wading, paddling down below in the river, completely un-aware of the human on the bridge taking the photograph of them both.
Vivid was the green flanks of the river bank below, but after this photo I walked on a little further — before turning around and looking back down the canal towards MFN, a blot in the landscape perhaps? Perhaps it is not, but it is a popular event space with both motorcycle nights and car nights that bring people together along with families and like minded people whom share a common interest.
Now you could easily say that MFN is something of a blot on the landscape but hold on, how many other canals have got pubs and commercial premises next to them? Quite a lot and of anything MFN does provide an interesting point on this stretch of Erewash Canal. And yet I was surrounded at this point by the sounds of an orchestra, not from Classic FM or a randomly generated streaming service playlist, but one of birds singing, soothing is what it was as I progressed ahead. The light and the skies as I walked along just seemed to get even better and danced somehow like only nature can do.
“There is just something magical about water, how it connects us with nature but also how it intrigues the mind that much that people want to live alongside it or on it. Yet respect is also what it needs, respect it and living alongside it, the water and the canal will teach you in return, yet it is also a living picture postcard.”
Yes you could apply the above to a lot of canals, they are like a picture postcard that many walk through. I continued eventually reaching another lock, Eastwood Lock was in front of me, but then I continued further along, until I got to another frame, this time Gadesby’s Bridge was ahead of me and the towpath flanked by the early green colours of spring looked so alive. I paused and slightly zoomed in.
Despite Gadesby’s Bridge being modern by a lot of standards, it does remain quite photogenic from a lot of angles, and whilst it might lack the old charm of many other canal crossings it serves it’s purpose incredibly well. I continued for a short distance under the bridge then looked back, again it still looked incredibly photogenic in a strange way, but I suppose the magic of any canal is that both modern and old can co-exist together and that is why of course I love a walk by the canal.
Does it really matter that something modern can be photogenic? Not really and that is the charming thing about canals, they can take us on a journey either A. Back in time or B. They can provide a link between both old and new, blend it together and present their quirks and charms to us all to enjoy and discover.
After the modernity of the bridge, I continued in the direction towards Langley Mill Basin, the birds still accompanying me like an orchestra of soothing calming music and then I just had to stop again, paused and looked at the view ahead of me towards Anchor Lane Bridge. But this was a short distance away from Anchor Lane, and ahead of me I could see a unique curve in the canal, we often think of canals as being large straight stretches of water like roman roads, only designed for boats, but no; even canals have design elements within them.
The water like a mirror, reflections of the trees as I continued to walk, yet for Easter Monday, the towpath was strangely quiet, just where had all the people who would normally be enjoying a bank holiday Monday walk gone to, I pondered to myself. Eventually ahead of me a building came into place, now a house but one that I suspect has a lot of history to it, intertwined within the walls with tales of yesteryear and transportation, what goods would have passed by and more.
Warmth is what I felt and that was because of the sun, the sky magical and I continued walking along through this postcard, a postcard of ever changing scenes and angles along with perspectives, each moving like a moving picture that changes second by second, minute by minute and where each season brings something else. I mean time is linear and no moment in time will ever be repeated. Whilst I have walked along this stretch of canal on many occasions I always love the change that it brings and the way that each year something else is different.
Eventually I had finally made it to touching distance of the white house at Anchor Lane. Yet in front of me on the other side of the canal providing a postcard view was the following.
The canal boat in the photo is nearly always there, and again Anchor Lane bridge might be modern, but it blends in with the white house at the side of the canal, yet under a glorious spring afternoon skies, everything seemed that bit more magical. Here I was experiencing that magic, I mean spring time really is the time in which nature awakes after being asleep and as it awakes it puts on a show, much like it does before it goes to sleep in the autumn. I could say that spring is like autumn but with warmer weather. I continued to walk, and when I got to the top of Anchor Lane bridge I captured the following.
I was in awe, ahead of me the canal in a straight line before turning left to go under a bridge before another lock and Langley Mill Basin, where the name changes to “Cromford.” But from this bridge I loved the simplicity and stillness in time, the skies reflecting off the water along with the colour of nature within it’s shades of green, and the browns of winter giving way to new growth and buds to later appease me next time I see this scene. But sometimes it seems as if the landscape is like a painting and from the top of the bridge, that is what the view ahead of me looked like. I stood and imagined what it would look like at other times of the year — pondering on what will have changed in a short time.
Continuing over the bridge, I went straight on, before turning right and walking back on the other side of the Erewash Canal, now the Canal was to the right hand side of me, but I soon lost that, until I arrived at the Nottingham Canal, disused and overgrown it has it’s photogenic charms, but eventually I reached a tiny piece of woodland, with a difference.
I say woodland, more like a coppice of trees, but the faint shape of an old bridge and the magical light just happened to make things surreal, dreamlike to an extent and what was hidden in green? An old bridge that at one time would have had water underneath it, but where the coppice of trees are in the photo above is where the Nottingham Canal would have once gone. Now it is enjoyed by hikers but years ago things would have been busier.
Old is this bridge, still standing and history preserved. That is what came into my head as I paused at took a photo of the leading lines of the bridge and the spring sunshine, whilst yesterday it was slightly warmer, today felt fresher. I walked over the bridge and re-joined the towpath of the Nottingham Canal, thinking to myself that it is a shame that it is so overgrown, but does that matter? To some people it might but for the wildlife extra homes for extra species. I continued walking, eventually though the silence gave way to motorcycles at speed passing along a nearby road, and it was here that I decided to opt for walking though a field to re-join the Erewash Canal, and a stretch of towpath that I had previously walked along. Turning left on the towpath, I headed back in the direction of MFN, but another frame had caught my eye and in the distance two or three houses.
I think it was the simplicity of the view ahead and the way in which the hedgerow had perfectly framed a small section of the view, thought provoking perhaps but I ended up getting the above photo and again I was incredibly pleased with the result, and I continued walking again, gathering thoughts and listening to the last sounds that I would be hearing on this glorious late afternoon of the birds and wildlife, the roar of distant motorcycles heading towards MFN for bike night, but somehow at the side of a canal you switch off from the sounds of machine.
Eventually I got to Shipley Lock again and crossed the bridge, before walking a short distance to a viewpoint, on the opposite side of the canal, behind me MFN and yet in front it was something else, serenity and calmness, it felt as if it was far removed from motorcycles and their engines plus speed.
Again despite the sounds of motorcycles, engines and machines the sounds faded and it was like I was in a postcard, a cinema show even or a painting, yet I was not, I had completed my walk and was at the original starting point, and the view ahead looked different; because it was taken from a different place with a different perspective. But somehow I could tell that instead of merely walking along a towpath or a series of towpaths, I had just been walking through a picture postcard and one that constantly changes, one that has stories from years gone by, where landscapes would have looked different, to present day — again with the water telling stories and for stories to be discovered in the future, but each time you walk along a canal it changes all of the time, no matter what year it is or season it is, something different is what you will see, and that is what I loved about walking through this ever changing and sounding picture postcard.