Stepping Out: Lock, stock and muddy towpath on Cuckoo Way

Chesterfield Canal taken by Mike Newett
Chesterfield Canal taken by Mike Newett
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The starting point for our short Sunday walk was the Parish Hall in North Anston. As we gathered an energetic game of football was just getting underway on a nearby icy pitch.

We set off through Anston Stones Wood, a beautiful nature reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest. It is well worth a visit at any time of year but in spring and summer there must be a tremendous variety of flowers growing here. A signpost mentions bee orchid as one of the rare species that can be found in the wood. Even now in winter we can admire the limestone outcrops and the way in which they have been gradually eroded over the years.

We head out of the wood and towards Lindrick Dale beyond which we meet up with the Chesterfield canal. The sun is shining brightly and our lunch stop is very warm and pleasant by January standards.

Chesterfield canal played an important role in history back in the 19th century. In 1834 the Houses of Parliament burned down and locally mined stone was transported down the canal to help in its rebuilding.

The rise of the railways gradually caused the canal to fall into disrepair and disuse. In recent years a huge amount of work has been undertaken by the Chesterfield Canal Trust to return it to former glory.

The site of so many working locks is impressive.

It is a very pleasant walk along the towpath known as the Cuckoo Way.

Our only difficulty is that the path has become extremely muddy as the recent snow has slowly melted away.

We leave the canal and cross a field which brings us back to North Anston.

No doubt the wood and the canal will be worth another visit in the summer.

The Chesterfield Canal: is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful and varied waterways in England.

It runs for 46 miles: from the River Trent to the middle of Chesterfield, linking Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Every yard: of the canal can be walked on the towpath known as The Cuckoo Way. It goes through tranquil countryside where scarcely a house can be seen; has some of the earliest staircase locks ever built (240 years ago); is hugely popular with walkers; has some of the best canal fishing in the country and ends up at what will be the £310 million Waterside development in Chesterfield.