This easy relaxing walk for the most part follows the banks of the River Trent and the Trent and Mersey Canal.
The ancient village of Swarkestone originated at a crossing point of the River Trent used for river transport before the building of the canal. Swarkestone Bridge and Causeway had a very important part to play in history as recorded by the commemorative cairn in the gardens of the Crewe and Harpur Arms at the start of the walk.
Leaving the village behind the walk crosses fields before joining the Trent and Mersey Canal. James Brindley, who could neither read nor write, was responsible for the construction of the canal. At one time ridiculed by his contemporaries, this Derbyshire born genius, is remembered all over England for the 365 miles of inland waterways for which he was responsible.
At Swarkestone Lock an arm of the canal used to branch off linking it with Derby. All that survives is about 50 yards of the canal and the former toll house converted into the headquarters of Swarkestone Boat Club.
The walk continues along the banks of the canal before doubling back through fields to Barrow-on-Trent, returning along the banks of the River Trent.
Length: 4.5 miles.
Start/Finish: Crewe and Harpur Arms (please park at the bottom end of the car park away from the pub).
Location: At junction of A5132 and A514 south of Derby.
Terrain: Level walking mostly by canal and river. Liable to flooding after heavy rainfall. Walkers have reported difficulties in finding the route to Massey's Bridge and also descending the flight of steps at point 10, which at the time of writing are in a poor state of repair. I have therefore provided alternative routes to try to make your walk more enjoyable.
1. Walk to the right from the car park by the Crewe and Harpur Arms and cross the A514 and follow the footpath to Swarkestone Church.
2. Go past the church and immediately turn right by the churchyard wall to a stile on the left into a field. Alternative Route: Head diagonally across the field to a point where Old Hall Farm access road meets the A5132. Turn right and walk along the footpath beside the road for 100 yards, before taking a sign for Chellaston and Derby leading down to the canal bank. Go to the left and walk under Cuttle Bridge and continue your walk along the canal towpath, soon passing Swarkestone Lock. Go to point 9.
3. Turn right to follow the field boundary at first and then continue straight on to cross a farm track.
4. Continue with the wall to the Summer House on your left and go through a gate by a yellow waymark sign to the opposite side of the field.
5. Go through a gap and keep the hedge close on your right. On the other side of the field, cross a concrete access bridge into the next field.
6. Continue straight ahead along a rough field track for a few yards. Then keeping close to the hedge on the right, follow the field round before gradually angling to the left, in the direction of a solitary bush in the fence in front of you. The bush is about 70 yards from the bottom corner of the field, close by is a gap in the fence that leads you into another field.
7. Aim for the far left hand corner of the field, where you can clearly see a gap, about 25 yards from the boundary.
8. Immediately you are through the gap, turn left to join the canal towpath - Massey's Bridge is opposite. Continue in a westerly direction along the canal for about two miles, going under Cuttle Bridge, and past Swarkestone Lock. Alternative Route: Leave the canal at the road bridge and walk down the road to the A5132 continuing into Barrow-on-Trent. Go to point 14.
9. After going under a road bridge and walking along the canal bank, with a road opposite, for about 300 yards turn left at Deep Dale Bridge Number 17. The number indicator is on the western side of the bridge.
10. Cross the railway bridge and immediately turn left down a flight of steps into a field.
11. Keep close to the left hand side of the field until reaching a stile, and in the next field go half-right.
12. Then maintaining the same direction continue through two fields, heading towards the left hand side of a white cottage.
13. Turn right on reaching the road, cross the A5132 and walk down into Barrow-on-Trent.
14. Keep straight on through the village, before turning left along Church Lane. At the end of the road, follow the footpath by the River Trent, go over a footbridge, and continue along the riverbank.
15. In the next field head towards the far left hand corner to cross a stile, through a short field to a gap in the fence and then, in about 75 yards, turn left to a stile by Meadow Farm (alternatively follow the route normally used by fishermen along the river bank round to Meadow Farm).
16. On leaving Meadow Farm, turn right into Woodshop Lane passing in front of the Crewe and Harpur Arms back to the start of the walk.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Melbourne Hall (Tel. 01332 862502) was once the home of Victorian Prime Minister William Lamb (Lord Melbourne). Please telephone for details or visit website.
The Donington Grand Prix Collection (Tel. 01332 811027) the world’s largest collection of Grand Prix racing cars. Exhibits are on display from 1900 to today detailing the history of motor racing. Open daily.
Elvaston Castle Country Park (Tel. 01332 571342) Set in 200 acres of parkland with an ornamental lake, extensive gardens, stony grottoes, rock archways and other interesting features. Open daily.
Crewe and Harpur Arms (Tel. 01332 700641) a large attractive redbrick pub, standing on the banks of the River Trent. The gardens run down to the river and provide a pleasant place to relax. Bar meals are available every day from 12-6pm. Restaurant facilities also available.
Melbourne Hall Tea Rooms (Tel. 01332 864224) situated in what used to be the washrooms and bath house of the hall. One of the old baking ovens still remains in these delightful old tea rooms that have built up an enviable reputation for light meals and teas. Open from 11-5pm, Tuesday to Sunday and Bank Holidays from early March to the end of October. Weekends only in winter from 11-4pm.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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This small, quiet South Derbyshire village with a population of less than 200 is set on the banks of the River Trent. Only just over 250 years ago it was the scene of one of the most momentous incidents in English history.
On the 4 December 1745, Charles Edward Stuart and his army reached Derby and made arrangements for the capture of the strategically important Swarkestone Bridge. It was the only bridge on the River Trent, between Burton and Nottingham.
Swarkestone Bridge and Causeway, at a length of three quarters of a mile, is the longest stone bridge in England and holds Grade I listed building status. There has been a bridge here for 800 years, and at one time a bridge chapel and toll house stood partway across the bridge. It is still today an important crossing place.
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