An impressive South East Derbyshire walk, visiting Shardlow, one of the best-preserved inland canal ports in the country, and returning along the towpath of the Trent and Mersey Canal.
Shardlow is a fascinating place to explore, still busy with boats, now used for leisure and not for commerce. The boats range from traditional narrow boats with brightly painted liveries, in summer frequently be-decked with pretty boxes filled with flowers, to pleasure craft of all shapes and sizes.
A walk along the canal towpath brings you into contact with many of the old buildings of the Canal Age. Mostly now used for different purposes, but still largely intact: the massive warehouses that once stored ale, cheese, coal, cotton, iron, lead, malt, pottery and salt; and the wharves where goods were loaded and unloaded. This is where the skilled craftsmen worked; the boat builders and repairers, the chandlers, rope-makers and blacksmiths.
The enjoyable walk along the canal passes both Shardlow Lock and Aston Lock, every mile marked by a smartly painted canal milepost, recording the distance between Shardlow and Preston Brook.
Length: 5 miles.
Start/Finish: Roadside parking in Aston-on-Trent.
Location: Off the A6 from Derby to Shardlow.
Terrain: Easy level walking, mainly through fields and by the Trent and Mersey Canal. A short stretch of the path between Aston and Shardlow can be rather muddy at times.
1. From the White Hart, walk in a northerly direction along Derby Road, before turning right into Moor Lane.
2. Keep right into Manor Farm Road, and just after a footpath sign; continue down a rough access road.
3. Walk down an enclosed path to the left of Moor Cottage, and go over a stile into a field.
4. Go straight across the field to a gap in the fence opposite, where you cross a wide wooden plank bridge into another field.
5. Head towards the left hand corner of the field and go through a gap in the fence by a cottage.
6. Turn left and walk between the cottage and the hedge. Continue with hedge close by on your left, soon passing a row of cottages.
7. When the hedge eventually bends to the left, carry straight on for a short distance towards to a stile by Days Inn.
8. After leaving the field, turn right and walk down an enclosed path, with Days Inn on your left.
9. At the end of the path, turn left onto an access road, which soon leads you to Aston Lane, where you turn left and follow the footpath into Shardlow.
10. On reaching a ‘T’ junction, turn right along London Road. Continue until just before reaching the canal bridge, where you turn left along The Wharf.
11. Follow the road round to the end, where you walk down a narrow pathway to the left of a house. On reaching an access road at the rear, turn left opposite Firs Wharf Cottage.
12. After 40 yards turn right along the road that leads you to the canal bank. Continue past the New Inn, cross the canal bridge and go down the steps to walk along the other side of the Trent and Mersey Canal.
13. Walk under London Road Bridge, and after passing Shardlow Lock, the walk continues for a further two and half miles along the canal towpath to Bridge Number 7, where you leave the canal and cross over the bridge to Weston Grange.
14. At the rear of Weston Grange, where the track forks, keep to the right and walk up the track for half a mile, before turning left along Shardlow Road.
15. Aston-on-Trent Church is soon passed, as you continue straight ahead into Derby Road and the start of the walk.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
Shardlow Heritage Centre (Tel. 01332 792334) housed in the old Salt Warehouse, the centre features displays of canal and village life of this historic inland port. Open from Good Friday to the end of October - Weekends and Bank Holidays only, from 12-5pm. Some additional opening and guided walks around Shardlow available – telephone for details.
Elvaston Castle Country Park (Tel. 01332 571342) the first Country Park to be opened in Britain. Set in 200 acres of parkland with an ornamental lake, extensive gardens, stony grottoes, rock archways and many other interesting features. Open daily.
The Donington Grand Prix Collection (Tel. 01332 811027) the world’s largest collection of Grand Prix racing cars. Exhibits from 1900 to the present day detailing the history of motor racing. Open daily.
The Malt Shovel (Tel. 01332 792256) an attractively beamed pub with an ‘L’ shaped lounge dates back to the 19th century. Open daily. Home cooked food served in the evenings Wednesday to Friday, lunchtimes and evenings on Saturdays and lunchtimes only on Sundays.
Canal Bank Tearooms (Tel. 01332 799115) situated on the ground floor of the Old Salt Warehouse by the canal towpath. Light refreshments are served throughout the year on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. Please check details.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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Situated six miles south-east of Derby, the village of Aston-on-Trent lies on Derbyshire’s side of the River Trent, that divides the county from Leicestershire. It has grown considerably in population over recent years and nearly all of its inhabitants of working age commute to work.
This has not stopped Aston from developing an excellent community spirit, with a significant number of thriving organizations operating in the village. Fund raising for a large number of causes has been particularly successful over the last few years. The village’s excellent community spirit has led to the ‘Derbyshire Large Village of the Year Award’ being won in both 2002 and 2004.
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