I paddle this stretch of the Chesterfield Canal regularly, so tend not to record most of my trips. Travelling from Kiveton Station to Thorpe Triple locks and back along a wooded stretch of the upper Ryton valley is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon, the 6km or so usually taking me about one and three-quarter hours including a tea break and leg stretch at the locks.
This day in early May though was out of the ordinary, so I decided to share the experience.
The put-in is a short carry over the bridge from the station carpark, so I was on the water with the minimum of faffing around, heading east towards the start of the long flight o flocks descending into Shirebrook. The railway runs close by, and I was happy to contrast my journey with the train passengers, cooped up in carriages away from the lovely Spring day I was enjoying. It was t-shirt weather, and what wind there was blew gently from the east. Enough to keep me cool but not impede my progress.
Unusually, I did see a narrow-boat moving along the cut as I reached the put-in. Most of the time I am the only one afloat, but it was mooring at the end of the pound. Once I had set off, mine was once again the only boat moving on the water. After passing a couple of long term moorings, I entered Hawks Wood.
The dry Spring we have had this year seems to have been great for wildflowers and blossom. The floor of the wood was a carpet of ransom and bluebells, and the canal itself edged in white.
I gently paddled down to the locks, but instead of stopping there for a stretch, decided to head back upstream a little to explore the woods themselves. A few hundred metres paddling saw me coming ashore in Old Spring Wood. Everywhere was covered in blooms, so I picked a careful route, tip-toeing towards a footpath running parallel to the cut.
The warm sun brought out the heady scent of wild garlic, mixed with the sweeter smell of the bluebells, and the undertones of damp woodland soil. A short walk returned feeling to my feet, and after making a few images, I returned to the boat, and headed back towards Kiveton Park.
My regular paddling companion sat alert and at the ready in the bow, but as ever, contributed very little else to our progress as we finished a very pleasant trip.
By the put-in, a flower of a different colour caught my eye, so I made one last image before we left the water.
This familiar trip had been just a bit special today.