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Boating along Chesterfield Canal in England

The historical canal was a peak of British engineering at its time

Best time: April–October

Boating along Chesterfield Canal
Boating along Chesterfield Canal
Boating along Chesterfield Canal
Boating along Chesterfield Canal
Boating along Chesterfield Canal

Located in the East Midlands of England, The Chesterfield Canal is known as 'Cuckoo Dyke,' named after cargo boats called “cuckoos.” Designed by James Brindley, it was opened in 1777 and 74 km (46 mi) long, starting from the River Trent at West Stockwith, Nottinghamshire and ending in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. At the time it was considered to be one of the longest British canals. The canal was used to transport coal, limestone, lead, iron and various merchandise. All the goods were often transported by horse-drawn barges.

To go up and down at altitude difference locks were made. One section called the Giant’s Staircase has 22 of them. Engineer James Brindley, who died while the canal was being built, was a pro in staircase lock design. His Giant’s Staircase section is in Shireoaks, between Turnerwood flight and the Thorpe flight of locks, about 32 km (20 mi) southeast of Sheffield. You can hike in the park stretching to the Shireoaks mooring basin.

Boat trips along the canal are accessible at all times, but public boat tours usually run from April to October. There are also Santa Specials in December, so you can feel the Christmasy atmosphere at the Canal. You can also hike and bike along the Chesterfield Canal throughout the year.

Practical info

When can you take public tours on the Chesterfield Canal?

Public tours on the Chesterfield Canal are generally available from April to October. However, boat trips are available along the canal year-round. In December, visitors can also enjoy the Santa Specials event along the canal. This event offers a unique experience of cruising on a decorated boat in the company of Santa and his elves, along with festive treats. Show more

Where can you find the Giant's Staircase in relation to other parts of the canal?

The Giant's Staircase is situated in Shireoaks, between the Turnerwood flight and the Thorpe flight of locks. The 22-lock section is located in a park area that reaches to the Shireoaks mooring basin. Visitors can experience this section of the canal by hiking along the Chesterfield Canal, which starts from West Stockwith, Nottinghamshire, stretching 74 km (46 mi) to reach Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Show more

What types of cargo were transported on the Chesterfield Canal?

The Chesterfield Canal transported several types of cargo, including coal, limestone, lead, and iron, among others. The canal was designed to transport various goods, and horse-drawn barges were commonly used. Today, visitors can appreciate a glimpse of the canal's history by experiencing boat trips and observing these cargo boats in operation. Show more

What recreational activities are possible along the Chesterfield Canal?

Hiking and biking along the Chesterfield Canal offers visitors an excellent opportunity to experience the canal's history, culture, and natural beauty at their own pace. The canal offers picturesque scenery with various nature and wildlife preservation areas. Visitors can choose to hike or bike along the canal path, enjoying the outdoor experience in any season of the year. Show more

What can visitors expect from the Santa Specials event on the canal in December?

The Santa Specials event, which takes place in December, is a unique experience for visitors. A decorated boat ride, complete with Santa and his elves, is the main attraction, and visitors are treated to festive tunes, mulled wine, and mince pies. The boat trip usually lasts 30 minutes, offering visitors an excellent opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the canal while immersing themselves in the holiday spirit. Show more

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