Fifteen volunteers helped to tidy-up one of Chesterfield’s best outdoor spaces last month, with Chesterfield Litter Picking Group and Chesterfield Canal Trust working together to get rid of litter and debris along the canal.
The team got together for the effort on Saturday 24th April, including several canoeists and paddleboarders, who did a superb job clearing the towpath and the canal above Tapton Lock in Chesterfield in the morning. They even removed debris that had got stuck on tree branches in floods.
They saw lots of newly hatched ducklings and even a newt that was found under an old mattress along the bank.
The volunteers also intend to make contact with the companies backing onto the water to encourage them to refrain from dumping their rubbish onto the banks.
In the afternoon, a second group totalling 35 people of all ages, tackled the currently unrestored section of the canal in Renishaw. They cleared a huge amount of rubbish, mostly drinks bottles and cans, but also a tyre, a roadsign, a fire extinguisher and a garden seat. A large elm tree that had collapsed into the canal was cut up and cleared.
This group also cleared vegetation along half a mile of towpath stretching from Main Road Bridge right back to Hague Lane. This is usually impassable in the summer because it gets smothered in brambles, but it is more pleasant for walkers than the adjacent the Trans-Pennine Trail.
This clear-up will be repeated on the last Saturday afternoon of every month. The Chesterfield Canal Trust is keen to set up a group of local volunteers in Renishaw who will eventually manage their section of the canal and look after the adjacent woodland and fishing pond.
In the autumn, the Trust is set to start a major project at Renishaw, making good a previous restoration attempt and extending it to a total of 1,000 metres. This will eventually link up to the Doe Lea Valley restoration section for which the Trust has recently received planning permission.
When all these works are finished, probably sometime in 2024, it will extend the restored canal in Derbyshire from 5 miles to 7½ miles. The highlight will be a 37 metre long aqueduct, nearly 10 metres above the River Doe Lea.
Besides providing a wonderful towpath for walkers, cyclists and mobility scooter users, it will give new fishing grounds. Opportunities for the hire of boats, canoes, paddleboards and cycles will be created. There will be a need for refreshments and it will attract people to the area, thereby benefitting local businesses.
Kath Auton, the Trust’s Membership Secretary, said: “Today has been wonderful. We have met so many local people who are keen to help get the canal restored and back in water. It will be a real asset to Renishaw. I can’t wait for the next clear-up on May 29th.”
Chesterfield Canal Trust supports the marketing and economic growth of the town through Chesterfield Champions, a network of over 180 organisations across Chesterfield and North Derbyshire.