Sunday, 5 April 2009

Up the Beeston Cut

Early afternoon, we slip the pontoon quietly and make for Beeston, westward along the Nottingham Canal. A blustery westerly makes our turn out of the narrow marina entrance difficult, much to the glee of the assorted onlookers on the bridge and the towpath. They can’t have much to do in Nottingham.
I really don’t know if I enjoy rural or urban canals more: I really enjoy Britain’s countryside and wildlife, but I also particularly enjoy exploring Britain’s industrial heritage. I simply cannot pass an old wharf, derelict factory of disused crane without wanting to know why it is there.

Here, of course, the Nottingham Canal only runs from the Trent at Meadow Lane Lock up to Old Lenton, from where it curved north on a more direct route to Langley Mill. At Old Lenton, the Beeston Cut continues – uninterrupted – to the Trent at Beeston Lock.
On Sundays and other Holy Days, the proprietors of the Beeston Canal would string a chain across the canal to prevent its use by the ungodly. Sadly it’s the only tale commonly told of this stretch of canal, which is a pity, as it must surely hold so much more history. Both the Pearson and the Nicholson guides are fairly derogatory, talking only of the hidden industry behind high banks.

It is a peaceful stretch, winding slowly along the southern edge of the Boots complex – Nottingham is the home of Boots the Chemist, one of Britain’s better known high street companies. On the southern side, a high brick wall acts as a flood barrier of last resort from the ravages of the River Trent. It must surely be a last resort as the normal river level must be at least 13 feet lower than the base of the wall and half a mile away across the flood plain. No gaps are allowed in this wall, so pedestrians and cyclists must cross by means of long ramps.

We arrive at Beeston and decide to moor up for the night alongside the wall. A road – appropriately called Canal Side – runs next to the canal here but the area seems quiet enough and there are plenty of other boats moored up here. Further down we note several boats undergoing heavy restorative maintenance on the visitor moorings; I suspect they will still be there when we return!

Sadly there is no pub in this area, other than in the cheap and cheerful Beeston Marina complex, but we decide to eat in the Beeston Marina café. An extremely friendly staff serve out huge helpings of food…steaks, chops, burgers…at lightning speed and with healthy dollops of Nottinghamshire humour. The café is set back a little behind the little terrace so the view of the river is restricted. We eat vast quantities of gammon, egg, chips, burger and bread and butter, washed down with mugs of tea. They just don’t make places like this any more, but this is – for me – the iconic English caff.

GCSE revision beckons for T, so I mooch around the area for a few hours to leave him in peace and quiet.

3.1 miles, 0 locks

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