Sponsored Canoe Dawdle: Chesterfield to West Stockwith (46 miles)
We are: Andrew Robinson, Chris Capon, James Woods
To read on click "Read more" to the right!
Last year we set out to walk the entire length of the Chesterfield Canal in one day!
This year we returned to the Chesterfield Canal with an open canoe and camping gear and were the first in over 100 hundred years to navigate the whole canal with a boat.
It is our intention to divide the funds raised evenly between Fairplay and the Chesterfield Canal Trust.
The Chesterfield Canal Trust
Dedicated to the restoration and promotion of the Chesterfield Canal.
Registered Charity no. 1071376
Fairplay supports children and young people with disabilities and additional needs, and their families, across North Derbyshire.
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21 May 2011 - Andy and James walk the entire length of the canal (46 miles) in 15 hours! They have the blisters to prove it!
Chris and James
Mum & Dad…. £50.00! Thank You!
Diane and Mick!
Rachael Jon and Edith
Andy Chris James: Breakfast £10.00
Nana Cooper £46.00 Thanks Nan!
Sue and Shaun
Mum and Dad (C Capon)
Aunty Janet (C Capon)
The Bolsover School Admin Team
Patrons of the Elesé Fitness Centre www.elesefitness.co.uk
Sponsored Canal Dawdle: Chesterfield to West Stockwith (46 miles) 36miles paddling, 9miles hauling.
First complete passage for 104 years?
An account of three fellas Andy Robinson Chris Capon and James Woods and their 2011 sponsored challenge in aid of Fairplay and The Chesterfield Canal Trust.
Day One (Friday 10th June) Chesterfield – Turnerwood
6.30am Chris and James arrived at my house in time for a quick cup of tea and bacon butties. Day bags are readied followed by a final equipment check and our tick list is ticked! We lift the boat down from its platform at the side of the house and onto the pavement. The canoe is an Old Town Camper 16 weighing in at 27kg, is 16ft long by 3ft beam and will carry 550kg fully loaded. Between us we lift the boat onto and securely strap her to the trolley. All equipment, paddles, day bags etc are secured in the boat.
7.25 We harness Chris to the boat by means of a weight lifting belt, rope loop and climbing carabineer. I position myself at the bow while James takes the stern and off we go, cheered on by my wife Joanne and my kids.
7.45 We arrive at Holbeck Close officially the start of the Chesterfield Canal although actually a canalised length of the river Rother and are greeted with a banner which we later discovered was left by Tony Stacey! A lovely gesture gave us a bit of a buzz! The river section has no easy access and is very shallow in places, so we trolley the boat to a spot immediately after Tapton Flood Lock. The boat is quickly off the trolley, the trolley secured on board and the boat slid gently down into the canal, all in and off we go for a paddle. Two minutes later and you arrive at Tapton Lock where we clamber out of the boat haul her out of the water leaving her on the side while the easiest portage route is decided. Then it’s back to the boat “one, two, three, lift and she’s soon manhandled around the lock, under the bridge then slid back into the water. This process of porting around the locks had to be repeated a further 4 times between Tapton and Staveley. There are in total 65 locks, many of which have to be ported around in this fashion. The weather was perfect and the canal flat calm! Everyone we passed either gave us a wave or said hello! There’s something about canals… everyone speaks to one another, you get a real sense of community its quaint and it harks back to a time when everyone would greet a stranger in passing and I love it. Porting around Bluebank Lock we met a very pleasant gentleman who was organising the fishing. He wanted to know all about our trip and gave us £5.00 in return we took one of his bin liners and collected as much litter from the cut as we could easily reach whilst gliding along. A mile later and now way overdue we were met at Hollingwood Lock (with its magnificently newly restored lock house and community hub) by the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s publicity officer Rod Auton. There the Trust treated us to a full English breakfast (absolutely the best Full English ever, go and try it for yourself!) and given a guided tour. Bellies full and spirits high we launched below the lock paddling for another mile as far as the dammed canal just beyond Millgreen Bridge. This point marks the current head of navigation from Chesterfield and for us marked the beginning of what would be a 9mile canoe haul! Chris again wanted to do the pulling so with me close behind him steering and braking at the bow and James doing the same at the stern off we go. The towpath being closed to facilitate the construction of Staveley Town Basin meant a deviation up through the centre of Staveley down the Hight Street, passed the church re-joining the canal at the end of Bellhouse Lane. Boy did we get some strange looks and lots of jovial comments about the water being back in the other direction!! Staveley Puddlebank passed by uneventfully apart from a narrow footbridge crossing the river Doe Lea which meant that we had to lift the boat up over our heads. We knew that the path from the junction of the Norbriggs arm would present a challenge due to the rutted and undulating state of the footpath. We had expected to have to carry the boat and trolley for upwards of have a mile. However this wasn’t to be the case, a careful and considered route and lots of participation from me and James to keep the rig upright meant we were able to keep the boat on the trolley and make good progress.
“Anybody got an adjustable spanner??? Wonky wheel on Andy’s trolley. Let’s hope it’s not a unicycle by the end!!!”
As we approached Killamarsh everything started to feel a bit shaky! It was quickly established that both wheels were coming loose. An adjustable spanner would have been a useful addition to the kit! I nipped the nuts up finger tight and we continued towards Killamarsh with the hope that someone would lend us a spanner.
“The wonky wheel has been fixed thanks to the donation of a spanner, Hoorah!!”
The first house we came to where there was some sign of life (the garage door open) a friendly gentleman fixed us up with a spanner. Disaster averted!
You have to know the route through Killamarsh as the canal disappears altogether in places and is lost forever under a housing estate. We passed through without any major problems, following the narrow alleyways we had two ninety degree bends to negotiate that we knew would be tricky. The second of which saw us having to lift the boat up into the air, over our heads and across the corner of someone’s garden. At around 1.30 we cleared the village and stopped for lunch and a pint outside of the Angel Inn.
“About two hours away from where they are camping out tonight….a little Hamlet (not a cigar) called Turnerwood.”
Then it was off up the only serious hill alongside the crumbled and ruinous Norwood Flight, up past the Western Portal of the collapsed Norwood Tunnel (At 2,880-yard it was the longest tunnel on the network when it opened). We climbed the hill, passing under the M1 motorway, striding on over the tunnel eventually reaching the Eastern portal and the restored navigation. Chris pulled the canoe all the way over the whole unrestored 9 mile section of the canal! We had a beer to celebrate (there’s a theme developing here!). Unbeknown to the boys I had visited the spot the evening before and stashed three bottles of Hobgoblin in the undergrowth.
We slid the boat down the steep embankment and into the water. The stretch from Kiveton Park down to Turnerwood is a particular favorite of mine and it made for a very pleasant cruise up to Thorpe Top Treble Locks where it immediately started to rain heavily! We pulled the boat out again and took shelter under the trees to watch a narrowboat and it soaked crew work their way up the treble staircase. Eventually we swapped the trees for the nearest bridge hole, which after half an hour we chose to abandon in order to dash the last half mile to Turnerwood and the promise of a BBQ with friends Diane and Mick.
We had met Diane and Mick the previous year whilst attempting to walk the whole canal in one day for Weston Park Cancer Charity. Once again we owe them and their friend and helper Victoria a debt of gratitude. The rain stopped, so we set up our tents in the orchard, we were treated to a BBQ feast, plied with beer and entertained around a camp fire. Diane and Mick you really helped make our trip possible and we whole heartedly thank you!
Day Two (Saturday 11th June)Turnerwood – Forest Locks
“A splendid night spent under canvass courtesy of a lovely lady a at Turnerwood”
“Barbeque last night followed by breakfast in bed this morning (can't be bad!!!)”
If you ever fancy a pleasant stroll along the Chesterfield Canal there are a number of circular routes around Turnerwood, don’t forget to visit Diane for an ice-cream and a cup of tea!
“Weather perfect for their mission”
After leaving Turnerwood we trolleyed to the bottom lock and then paddled into Shireoaks, calling in at the basin to inspect the Canal Trust’s replica ‘Cuckoo’ boat New Dawn.
“Carvery lunch today followed by shopping for supplies”
We stopped for lunch at the Lock Keeper and replenished supplies at the local Sainsburys before paddling on through Worksop.
“The boat is now two inches lower in the water thanks to the copious amount of beer purchased at the supermarket. Let's hope they drink it before the canoe sinks!!”
The only negative occurrence on the whole trip was provided by one fisherman before Kilton Lock who muttered a string of expletives in our direction because he had had to lift his fishing rod up out of our way. On our part we greeted everyone with a cheery "Hello", "Good Morning" or "Thank You".
We had a nice steady 10 miles of paddling on Saturday. We couldn't be anything other than steady with the boat loaded to capacity. We 'Wild camped' close to bridge 52 before you reach Forest Top Lock and enjoyed a very pleasant evening with our disposable BBQ and a few beers.
“Weather forecast for tomorrow is terrible....so could hinder things a little although they anticipate being at their finishing line about 4pm.”
Day Three (Sunday 12th June) Forest Locks – West Stockwith
Sunday we'd left a lot of distance to cover (19miles). We were off by 7.30am and it was nice to have fewer locks to port around. The day started warm and sunny and we were determined to cover as much distance as possible before the weather changed. We encounter our first narrowboat coming in the opposite direction, to my horror the boys took my instruction to pass left to left as go left which meant they tried to veer across in front of several tons of oncoming steel, we quickly put ourselves right lessons learned! It appeared to me that every boat on the canal was on the move up until midday when it started to rain. If you were steering a narrowboat on Sunday and you passed three men in a canoe, my thanks to you! Everyone slowed down while we passed! Oh boy did it rain and it never stopped. At Drakeholes we found ourselves in a pub trying to warm up and drinking tea? Three hours later after a difficult port around the final lock we turn onto the home straight. Wet, cold, but elated we charged down the last half mile like men possessed. Joanne my wife was waiting by the final bridge jumping up and down with excitement (a sight for sore eyes even if I do say so myself!). Finally we came into the West Stockwith Basin at 5.15pm and performed a lap of honour (in the pouring rain) just for ourselves. So we did it! The first boat in over one hundred years to traverse the whole canal? I would like to think so.
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