COLUMN: Adventures on the Erewash Canal by Larry Pique

editorial image

Recently, I wrote a piece about my younger days playing along the canal which was a long time ago now – 40 years or more.

Nowadays I use the canal towpath to commute to work in Sandiacre on my bike.

I work nights from 12.30am til 7.30am so my daily cycle to work is always around midnight and it can be surprisingly beautiful.

My favourite part of the ride then begins as I join the towpath at Hallam Fields lock and darkness descends.

Just a few yards onto the towpath the light pollution ebbs away and often reveals the starry sky in all its glory.

Most nights I take a few moments to stop in the darkest stretches and simply look upwards and enjoy allowing my mind to wander into the near infinite speckled blackness.

A couple of times a year there are meteor showers to enjoy and while these shooting stars do occur quite often on an almost nightly basis in ones or twos an actual shower of them is an amazing sight. During one of the annual showers I had stopped for a while to view them when a seemingly enormous meteor shot across directly overhead.

They normally last for a fraction of a second but this giant was much larger than any I had seen before. It lasted for about four seconds and had a tail that must have been several miles long.

From overhead it almost reached the horizon before it fizzled out. I stood for a few minutes wondering whether I had imagined the whole thing but it remains vividly engraved on my memory as its after-image remained on my retinas until I emerged into the street lights of Sandiacre.

There is plenty of wildlife around too in the dead of night. Rabbits galore and rats in abundance scuttle into the hedgerows. By far the strangest thing I have seen was by the pastures just before Sandiacre.

Half a mile past the M1 bridge I saw blue flashing lights standing on the parallel road and a torch bobbing across the field towards the cut. As I got closer I could see movement in the water and closer still I was amazed to see a horse in the canal. It was happily munching away at the grasses on the bank.

It turned and looked at me for a moment then returned to its meal. I was a little worried for the poor thing but a local fire crew had arrived and there was no sign of the horse on my return trip at dawn,

I hope and assumed that they were successful and everything went... er, swimmingly. Sorry!