Travel at a Natural Pace; Enjoy the Journey

Shardlow, Derbyshire

A Pleasant Walk for a Fine Winter’s Day

It was bright, cold, crisp morning. Just the day for Alison and I to take an exploratory walk from Shardlow Wharf on the Trent and Mersey Canal to Derwent Mouth on the River Trent. As with all canal side walks it is flat and easy; an ideal walk to set us up for a much anticipated Sunday pub lunch.

It had been mostly dry so the going was good although as the frost thawed it left a greasy layer on top so we had to watch our footing. Leaving the village we decided we would call in at the Malt Shovel, a pub clearly built into a smartly converted maltings, or perhaps we would choose the New Inn just across the road, for a coffee on the way back. That decision could wait, we had to do some walking first to earn our drink.

The only problem was that we had to stop every few yards while fishermen baited their hooks and shifted the long carbon poles that blocked the whole width of the tow path. It could easily have been irritating as each one in turn seemed to need to pull their poles back to get to the hook just as we cleared the one before him. It made for a stop start 100 yards or so. It would have been easy to have been irritated but in the true spirit we took things in our stride; we were in no hurry, the day was good and we were enjoying each other’s company. We had chance to watch the world around at its pace without some arbitrarily imposed deadline.

There were several moored narrow boats, most with their doors and windows open on this pleasant morning. People were finishing their breakfast and relaxing with the Sunday papers. This was slow living, savouring life at a human pace, no rush, no need to get somewhere. It was only slightly marred by the smells from the sewage works on the far side of the canal. We wondered why the boats were moored downwind or why, if the wind had changed overnight, they had not been moved to have breakfast in a more pleasant atmosphere. Fortunately it was cool day with a good breeze so the odours were not overpowering; presumably more of a problem in summer when the temperature is high.

We soon walked past the unpleasantness and a small and tidy marina on the far side of the canal. We paused to watch as a boat went through the Derwent Mouth lock. We continued to follow the path round until it turned to run alongside the River Trent. Where the Derwent and the canal joined the Trent there was an enormous bull in the field alongside. It was a much longer-legged beast than was normal; as a result it was unusually tall. A fine animal.

Nerw Inn Shardlow lb19016We reached a bridge across the River Trent and decided that it was time to return. We ambled back and took the more metalled track the other side of the hedge along the tow path, it gave us different view as we returned and we did not have the problem of the anglers and their poles.

Coffee at The New Inn

We returned to the New Inn and had a coffee, nothing special but the staff were very pleasant and if we had not been going out for lunch we would have probably stayed for a pub lunch or an all-day breakfast. As we left we stood and watched as narrow boat negotiated the bends and bridges as it headed towards Shardlow.

Narrow Boat, Malt Shovel, Shardlow lb19022By the time we got back to the car we had spent a pleasant couple of hours over a walk of perhaps three or four miles. We had enjoyed a fine morning and each other’s company which had given us time to make some plans. We had shared pleasantries with everyone we passed and now had an appetite for what would be a substantial lunch. It had been a very pleasant way to spend a fine Sunday morning.


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Jill Browne (not verified) on 26 March, 2015 - 18:07

Martin, thanks for this! I've been introduced to the New Inn by friends who live in Derby, and I can say the food is quite nice there. I agree with your comment about it being friendly. Love these pictures of the canal. You walked the canal and stopped at the pub. I went to the pub and went for a little walk to see the canal. A fine place indeed.

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