Here`s something I`ve been thinking of doing for a while, which is to post details of a few walks which may appeal to anyone who likes to spend time outdoors.
This is a particular personal favourite, beginning and ending in Heanor, Derbyshire and taking in some attractive countryside and historic sites along the way.
We`ll start the walk outside Heanor Library, which is about two minutes from the town centre.
Turning away from the town, you`ll see the Park Surgery and a sign for Heanor Miner`s Welfare.
Crossing Thorpes Way, you`ll see a tarmac pedestrian path to the right of the doctor`s surgery and running along the right-hand side of the Welfare. Follow this, and at the end turn right, walking down the road past Mundy C of E School which should be on your right.
A little after the school, you`ll see a short path on the left-hand side of the road leading to Marlpool Cemetery. Follow this and here you may choose to visit the old part of the cemetery, which is home to The Donovan Monument, The Brentnall Mounument and the Non-Conformist Chapel etc, all of which have been mentioned in this blog in the past.
To resume the walk, take the tarmac path between the old and new parts of the cemetery. At the end turn right and proceed in a straight line, ignoring the curving part of the road. Cross Roper Avenue and proceed into Thorpe Hill Drive, then follow a tarmac path alongside the Country Park Tavern. This will lead you to a bridleway running along the edge of Shipley Country Park.
Turn left along the bridleway. You may wish to take a couple of detours into Shipley Park. I would suggest Cinderhill Copse and Osborne`s Pond as being features of the park that you could conveniently visit without adding too much time on to the walk.
The Bridleway was previously part of the Great Northern Railway from Heanor Gate to Ilkeston. Late at night they say you can hear the sound of ghostly engines travelling to collect their phantom cargo from collieries that have long since ceased to exist. No actually, that`s not true at all, but I thought it would add a bit of colour.
The Bridleway passes through pleasant woodland where it is peaceful, but is sufficiently popular with locals and dog-walkers that there is always a friendly face at hand. If you have small children with you, this might be a good time to check if anyone needs the toilet.
As you follow the bridleway you will come to a point where there are two gates with `Keep Clear` signs crossing the path, and turnings to left and right as well as straight on. Do not worry about that, it`s OK to go straight ahead past the gates.
Carry straight on with Michael House School on your left. In summer this area is home to many dragonflies, damselflies etc. Eventually, you should come to the Shipley Woodside Mining Memorial, which has also been mentioned in this blog before. This area was once a colliery (obviously) and then a theme park, the American Adventure. At present it stands empty.
If you like birds of prey you may wish to keep an eye out for buzzards as I noticed one above me when I was there earlier this week.
Stand in front of the ornamental gates to the memorial and you will see a tarmac road almost straight ahead, leading between two fields. Follow this to reach Pit Lane.
Pit Lane takes you to the A6007 Hassock`s Lane which runs from Heanor to Ilkeston. Cross this and turn left along the pavement with a blue brick wall on your right. You will come to a path on the right. This will lead you to a stile which you should climb over to enter a wooded area called Bentley`s Plantation.
Apparently, this path follows the route once taken by horse-drawn trams carrying coal from Shipley Colliery to the Erewash Canal.
Bentley`s Plantation is an enormously attractive area. On sunny days the effects of the sun`s rays passing through the foliage above is very attractive. The downside of all this tree cover is that if there has been heavy rain then the ground does not dry out too quickly. However, if you stick to the route of the path (the raised bank of ground running alongside the fence on the left-hand side of the plantation), it is not too bad as the water tends to run down on to the lower ground to your right. It can seem a bit shadowy and secluded and not everyone would like to be here on their own.
Passing through the wooded area, you emerge to an open field. Ahead you can see the church at New Eastwood. To the left you may notice a gently sloping hill, largely covered with grasses/crops but with some trees, partic to the top. This is the reclaimed spoil heap from Brinsley Colliery. Look for a railway bridge - more or less ahead of you - and head for that.
Passing under the bridge, follow the tarmac path through the grounds of MFN nightclub, formerly the Shipley Boat Inn. MFN stands for Miles From Nowhere, not a reference to the song by the Only Ones, but to the club`s unusual location. The club`s owner used to be the drummer in Showaddywaddy.
There may be three steps to heaven but there will be more than that before we reach Heanor again, so carry on and you will reach Shipley Lock and the Erewash Canal.
The Erewash Canal, which was opened in 1779, was built to carry coal from local collieries. Langley Mill was home to the Great Northern Basin (the point of convergence of the Erewash, Cromford and Nottingham Canals) and the Erewash ran from there to Trent Lock in South Notts.
Crossing the bridge, turn left (north) along the Canal. At the nearby Eastwood Lock you will need to cross the bridge there to the other side. I personally favour this as a spot to eat lunch.
After that, it is very straightforward. Continue to follow the canal, which is home to a variety of wildlife, including a kingfisher. On a sunny day, the water is sometimes clear enough for you to see shoals of fish.
Keep going until you see a sign on a bridge telling you that you are now joining the Cromford Canal. You are now at the site of the Great Northern Basin. Walk under the bridge and you will see a plaque commemorating the engineering work of Jessop and Outram, the engineers who designed the canal.
Continue under the bridge and, coming out the other side, turn and walk to the main road. Behind you are the premises of the Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association. Turn right across the front of a petrol station and proceed to Langley Mill, crossing a bridge over the River Erewash. Keep going and you will see a large Asda. Keep that on your right and proceed to Langley Mill.
At Langley Mill you can return to Heanor either on foot (straight up the hill) or by bus (there is a stop on the left, near a railway bridge). If you have another destination in mind there is a train station, used by Northern Rail and East Midlands Trains, or there are regular Trent Barton busses to Nottingham.
This walk is a variation on Amber Valley Routeway Number 6. If you are a serious walker you could probably do it in four hours (assuming you stick to the route and don`t take the couple of possible detours I`ve mentioned). If you are an ambler rather than a rambler then it would probably take around five. It is not especially arduous - the steepest part is the walk back uphill from Langley Mill to Heanor - but you need to be tolerably fit.
Here are some links that may seem relevant ;
If you are tempted to visit the area, but prefer a walk led by an experienced walker, you might like to know that Nottingham Ramblers are putting on a walk to Eastwood, Shipley Park and Heanor on 23 Sept 2012 - see http://www.nottinghamramblers.org.uk/Walks_Prog.html .
As a final observation, I`ve walked this route many times, the most recent occasion being yesterday. I`ve checked this guide thoroughly and can`t find anything in it that is likely to confuse or mislead you. However, I don`t claim to be perfect and if you`re not familar with the area you may wish to supplement it with a map or walk leaflet from the area. One possibility would be to ask Amber Valley Borough Council for a copy of the leaflet for Amber Valley Routeway Number 6, which is slightly different in some places but covers the same area - they can be e-mailed at email@example.com .