Exploring the Grantham – Nottingham canal by bike/on foot

Our gorgeous cottage lies approximately half way between Grantham & Nottingham and the Grantham Canal snakes it’s way 33 miles between the two places. Having never explored the whole route, only some sections of it, we had an impromptu trip out at the weekend Starting at the end (or beginning!) in Grantham and working our way back towards Langar. The start of the canal lies in Grantham centre. We hopped on in a residential housing estate and followed alongside the canal and over a main road crossing heading out of the town. We heeded the blue cycle signs leading under the A1 and then were instantly catapulted into the countryside.

The outskirts of Grantham heading into countryside

The towpath is mainly an easy crushed gravel route, well kept and scenic with old red brick bridges (there are 35 navigable bridges in total) and aquatic life and passers by to make the miles soon pass. We were quickly skirting past villages such as Denton, Harlaxton and Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir. The latter landmark saw the first lock along the route (There are 7 restored locks in all out of a total of 18 along the length) and evidence of recent dredging by the active Grantham Canal Society on their barge, the Mudlark. This work has enabled this section of the canal to be used for boat trips being fully navigable.

Just after the pretty Woolsthorpe lock we passed a tempting pub garden, The Dirty Duck, but being only 5 miles along our route felt it too early to stop for refreshments! At this point there is a choice of route, either to stay on the narrow towpath or follow the Sustrans National Cycle Route 15 parallel to the canal for a section to Muston where the cycle route parted off towards Bottesford leaving us on a tougher grassed section onwards towards Redmile. This area is an SSSI being home to a rich diversity in wildlife. Parts of the canal were hidden from view by tall reeds and low water levels and the heat of the day meant we regretted our haste past the pub earlier on! Interestingly the route offers views of 3 sides of Belvoir Castle over several miles and shows how much the canal meanders along its course.

We carried on until the days stopping point in Plungar. 12.5 miles cycled and run that afternoon. We returned to Langar, just 3 miles from the canal at this point, leaving the rest of the route to be conquered on another day. There is some excellent information about the route and the locks on the Society’s site www.gcsguide.org and also at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/grantham-canal