Browse one of the most significant aristocratic collections in the UK, before taking an amble along the restored Chesterfield Canal

Words by Steph Wetherell

Posted on 30/10/2019

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Based in an old gasworks on the Welbeck Estate, the Harley Gallery opened in 1994, boasting three spaces that host frequently changing exhibitions of contemporary and historic artists. The gallery also houses the Portland Collection in a custom building that opened in 2016, representing four centuries of collected work by the Dukes of Portland and their families. It’s thought to be one of the most significant aristocratic collections in the UK, and it focuses mainly on portraits and miniatures. One of the highlights for visitors is Michelangelo’s Madonna del Silenzio, a work that until 2016 had not been displayed in public for more than 50 years.

Five miles north of the Harley Gallery, the Chesterfield Canal cuts through Worksop. Designed by famous canal designer James Brindley, the 46-mile waterway was finished in 1777 and was used to transport coal, iron and agricultural goods. Boats along this stretch differed from other regions – boatman did not live onboard and the resulting boat design, known as cuckoo boats, were distinctive to this waterway. The canal was deemed a success until the collapse of the Norwood Tunnel in 1907, dividing the waterway in two. Restoration has been carried out on the two sections to make the canal navigable once more for leisure use, but a nine-mile section remains impassable.

Join the towpath in Worksop, known as The Cuckoo Way, and head west. Walking through the outskirts of the town, you’ll soon pass by Sandhill Lake on your right, before passing over a curious redbrick bridge that once crossed the Lady Lee arm of the canal, a three-quarter mile private waterway to a local quarry. Before long, you’ll be heading out into the open countryside, and reach the Ryton aqueduct that marks the border of Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire. There are a large number of locks along this stretch, and this increases in the run up to Turnerwood. This enticing little hamlet is a wonderful destination for a walk, but if you fancy venturing a little further and haven’t had your fill of locks yet, the Thorpe Flight features an impressive fifteen locks in less than a kilometre.

Plan your day out along the Chesterfield Canal with our online guide