Posted by: lensweb | May 14, 2015

Nottingham Canal Part II, A Tale of the River Bank

Mon May 11, Nottingham Canal – 2 mile walk along good paths.

Meet 7pm at Erewash Valley Trail sign on Cossall Industrial Estate. In Ilkeston turn right off Chalons Way at Tescos roundabout. At first roundabout after River Erewash turn slightly right towards Awsworth (Coronation Rd) & immediately right following Soloman Road left and to the end.

Grid ref SK 478 427                  Leader John Haynes

As the car wound through the grey industrial estate at Cossall we saw a large hill made of colliery waste, which used to be a ski slope, it all seemed a bit grey and grim,  John Haynes  had offered to show LENS members another of his favourite spots on the Nottingham Canal and this was not what we were expecting.

We felt cheered as we met in the car park it was such a sunny evening and a short walk to the canal showed waterside plants, cuckoo flower, greater pond sedge and watercress flowering.  The lance-like leaves of water dock were bright green palisades lining the waterside. A solitary swan was seen where the old canal, built in 1796, has the indignity of a piped crossing of Coronation Road. We had taken our net, but despite Norman’s best efforts we caught no amphibians, although he did see a pike. That might have been why the mallards had no ducklings? The moorhen proudly showed off her black fluffy newborn chicks but the grumpy coots were still spread out, sitting on their twiggy mounds.

Meandering across scrubby meadow we looked for flowers, John had been disappointed at the lack of flowers on the walkover but tonight we had English bluebells, cowslip, red campion, creeping buttercup and greater stitchwort. Back by the canal we looked towards the Cossall Parish Council’s Millenium Park which is a Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust managed Blue Butterfly site, difficult to access as the bridge over the canal was condemned!

Interesting plants by the canal were the winged stems of common comfrey, also known as knit-bone, foetid iris, and the St John’s Wort with perforated leaves. There was also one plant of white horehound, another herb, which seems to be more common these days.

Culpepper’s Herbal says: ‘White horehound helpeth to expectorate tough phlegm from the chest, being taken with the roots of Irris or Orris. There is a syrup made of this plant which I would recommend as an excellent help to evacuate tough phlegm and cold rheum from the lungs of aged persons, especially those who are asthmatic and short winded.

Being aged and short winded I don’t think we got very far on the walk but we all agreed that that it had been an excellent evening stroll and the star of the show was the water vole.

The European water vole or northern water vole, Arvicola amphibius (formerly A. terrestris), is a semi-aquatic rodent. It is often informally called the water rat. Almost 20 years ago a national survey showed that water vole populations had reduced by 90%. A national water vole monitoring Programme has been set up by the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, a recount in 900 specific locations, so that they can advise conservation groups on which actions will bring about positive change.

Tonight we had plenty to report. We had seen small and large water voles, water voles swimming, water voles balancing on a floating branch, water voles eating reeds and water voles which posed for photographs and videos, lacking the shyness of most furry mammals.

A true ‘Tale of the River Bank’.

Marion Bryce 12 May 2015


Water vole Nottingham Canal 11 May 2015                Photo credit Joan Breakwell

vole cossall 5 08 25a

Water vole Nottingham Canal

Photo credit John Chapman


  1. Many thanks for the lovely article (as usual) and superb photos. John, it was an excellent visit. The three water voles made my evening.