Distance: 8 Miles
Grade: Easy (on a normal day)
Weather: 20-35KNTS To the East - dry 5 degrees C
ParkingWe parked at Trent lock on the North side of the Trent, there are several pubs here for later and parking is free. If you're lucky, the gates will be open and you can go through the car park and drive right up to the launch point just by the canal.
The RouteIf you start at Trent lock, you want to be heading down the canal first, otherwise you won't get up the Erewash without some tough paddling, so common sense tells you to launch up-gates of the lock. The water was high for us, so launch was easy. and a nice easy paddle takes you to your first portage. This part of the route is quite built up, but from your low vantage point, you won't realise this know for most of the canal. Port to the right of the lock on the tow path, the kayaks fit through the barrier that's there to stop the bikes flying by, so just wherever is easier for you. It's only a small lock, so 50 feet is all you'll have to walk.
The next stretch is more of the same with some of Nottingham's industrial past drifting by, the odd dog walker and jogger is all we encountered and the barges where all in their moorings, so the canal was our playground.
The second portage is where you leave the canal for the river, and it really is a short walk, no more than 100 Meters (I was expecting more). Follow the footpath that runs East and you'll find a foot bridge, about 25 Meters to the North is a small beach which is perfect for a seal launch, the river was running at 3-4 Knots and is only 4-8 Meters wide. There are a lot of meanders and can get quite tricky in places with low branches and fallen trees. You'll discover a weir with a 2 ft drop not far down and whilst you could easily follow that section which takes you to the right, we chose the left fork.
This takes you on a journey with many obstacles. It was just after the winter floods, so fallen trees lay only a foot from the rivers surface, and we did mange to navigate some of these, but some had to be portaged through muddy banks and bushes. The river bends can be quite tight and narrow here so all your skill will need to be applied, especially if the river is running fast. But this was easily the most fun that I'd had in a kayak in years.
The river opens into Atenborough Nature reserve and you find yourself with an open water challenge. Finding an exit point is tricky and not immediately obvious. There are several options, and you can simply hop over the tow path on the far side of the lake and join the Trent, or you can paddle around the lake and join the Trent about a mile further up. I'd suggest going with option 2, which of course isn't what we did, and found ourselves paddling for an age against wind and flow. Progress was about 1 Knot and hugging in behind the trees saw us eventually make it to the Final portage of the day. It took two attempts to cross the choppy waters and one of our group lost a good 400M being blown back down river and whilst waiting for her to make up the ground I got the kettle on and made a brew.
I think it's fair to say that at this point we considered walking to the car, but decided to carry on down the cut and back to the parking. If we had it hard, there were canal boats being pushed sideways down the river and into bridges, and I don't think I've ever paddled this hard to go a mere mile.
On another day, this would be a great little route, but with the wind, rain and flood waters it was a tough day.