Posted by: lensweb | July 12, 2017

What is life but full of care if you have no time to stand and stare?

LEISURE by WH Davies is a poem that warns that “The hectic pace of modern life has a detrimental effect on the human spirit.” Modern man has no free time to spend in the lap of nature.

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

This was the best summer day as we wandered down the Erewash Canal looking at the colourful waterside flowers. Thanks to the bankside enhancement carried out by the Canal and River Trust we still have Great Pond Sedge, Marsh woundwort, purple loosestrife, hemp agrimony, water figwort and bright orange jewelweed. Unwelcome intruders are Water hemlock and Himalayan Balsam.


Stepping over the rickety old stile into meadow at Cranfleet Farm we can relax, away from the madding crowd. Looking for meadow plants, sweet vernal grass, crested dogstail and fine leaved bent. Chimney sweepers, meadow browns and ringlets abound. Gatekeepers bright on the bramble by the hedge. Ladies bedstraw, birdsfoot trefoil and for a surprise, some nodding mauve heads of musk thistle with it’s strange perfume. Stand and stare at Ratcliffe on Soar Power Station, on Red Hill, the other side of the River. What is it’s future?

We walk towards the smooth blue water of Fletcher’s Pond. Tranquillity. This is where the martin’s collect mud for their nests and the sparrowhawk stalks the kingfisher. Dragonfly nymphs crawl up the reeds and burst in the sun to reveal their blue metallic glory. Yellow water lily smells like brandy and the fruits are the kegs. Pink water speedwell, pond water-crowfoot, rushes hard and soft and the not so common spike rush necklace the margins.

Fletchers Pond  has been described as ‘Derbyshire’s Premier Big Carp Fishery’ and is managed by Long Eaton Victoria Angling Society. Tench, bream, roach and pike also swim here. On a hot summer’s day the big fish break out of the water.

I was first introduced to these truly idyllic rural surroundings by Bert Hall, Long Eaton’s revered botanist and teacher. He knew every blade of grass. In the cool dark under the blue brick arch greater celandine, and wood false brome still grow. In the mortar between the bricks small ferns, wall rue and maidenhair spleenwort form stars apart from the Small Toadflax and Spotted Hawkweed. The trains thunder overhead, as we emerge at Cranfleet Farm. The Wildlife Wander has numerous permutations and on this occasion we wander down Trent Lane which runs from Meadow Lane to the Cranfleet Canal. A spaghetti junction of train lines and site of the old Trent Station.


Trent Station, a Victorian masterpiece of Midland Gothic architecture stood at the interchange of the five main railway routes serving Nottingham, London, Birmingham, Derby and Chesterfield. Trent was a station without a town or community; no buses passed by, there was no taxi rank – and passengers had to walk more than half a mile from Long Eaton to get there. Opened in 1862, it had everything you would expect a busy station to have: a long, single-island platform, booking hall, waiting rooms, refreshments, book stall, crew accommodation and a ticket barrier. Yet, looking out of the station entrance, all that could be seen was an isolated farm, a cottage linked to a rifle range, the stationmaster’s house and a few railway cottages. It was nearly seven miles from Nottingham, more than nine miles from Derby, and precisely 119¾ miles from London St Pancras. All manner of royalty visited Trent, in the form of the Royal train that stabled overnight between Trent Station North Junction and Sawley Junction. Nearly 100 passenger and parcel trains stopped at Trent every day, from services like the high-speed Thames-Clyde Express to local routes hauled by light steam engines and later diesel units. Trent Station was knocked down when it closed in 1967 but Long Eaton was and is a train spotter’s paradise, as Rodney Fowkes describes ‘an exciting and romantic place for a train-mad lad to grow up’ in his book ‘From Clerk To Controller’.

Classic railway plants, mignonette, weld, toadflax common and purple and lucerne colour the roadside but the bank is a tangle of bramble with ground elder and ragwort and trails of wild hop and pink bindweed. Small tortoiseshell and large white and a lot more browns bask in the sunshine. It gets wilder, and pink fluffy heads of bridewort battle with snowberry to take over the railway embankment.

Now we dodge through the hedge to follow a footpath between the new ponds at Pasture Lane. Long grass and skipper country, small and large, no Essex. We are mesmerised by the green eyes of a horsefly. A busy day at the Rifle Range no tranquillity here but a crowd of Scentless mayweed with its hoverflies and bees engages our camera interest.

Another hedge dodge and we happen upon Nottingham Yacht Club (founded 1964) in the old lock cottage, with moorings for nineteen boats on a canalised section of the River Trent between Trent Lock and Attenborough nature reserve on the Erewash Valley Trail, close to the River Soar and the Erewash Canal and within easy reach of the Trent and Mersey Canal. We got stuck at the Grade II listed lock. Here we sat and we sat and dangled our legs over the edge as the sand martin’s entranced us, catching airborne insects whilst on the wing. Assiduously feeding the three pushy wailing chicks who butted their heads out from between the ancient stone blocks, me first, me first. Sand martins are summer visitors to the UK, one of the first spring migrants to appear, arriving mid-March to mid-April, travelling around 3,000 miles from sub-Saharan Africa.  Easily confused with barn swallows and house martins, sand martins have dark brown upper parts and dark under wings contrasting with pale under parts divided by a distinctive dark chest bar. Cute chicks!


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Finally, we followed Cranfleet Cut, which was dug in 1796 to allow the Trent barges to by-pass difficult and shallow parts of the River Trent and avoid the Thrumpton Weir. It is protected by flood gates when the river level rises. Smiling and happy boaters wave as we see Skullcap, Ivy-leaved Toadflax, Pellitory-of-the-wall, Angelica and many more flowers growing out of the lime mortar. The regular mowing of the grassy towpath has made a linear wildflower meadow with Burnet Saxifrage, Bird’s foot Trefoil, Dove’s foot Cranesbill, Self-heal and Black Medick. The Canal and River Trust moor their dredgers here and in the shade of the hawthorn hedge, ground ivy, cow parsley and rough chervil, straggle. A shadow of HS2 crossing the cut.

Weary at Trent Lock the major waterway junction where rivers and canals meet. Known as ‘Waters Meet’ by boaters. Trent Lock is the first lock on the Erewash Canal. Our circle completed we will leave you at the Lock House Tearooms, full of historic canal memorabilia and Measham teapots to admire while sipping our tea.

Marion Bryce 11 July 2017




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