The John Varley tripboat that runs from Tapton Lock is a brand new boat that has a large wheelchair lift and a hearing loop.
The Hugh Henshall tripboat, which runs at Worksop, was specifically designed to cater for physically disabled passengers. It has a large wheelchair lift. It has no fixed seats, making it possible to accommodate half a dozen wheelchairs. It can be driven by remote control.
Hollingwood Hub is fully accessible and has two toilets for the physically diasabled, plus a baby changing table.
On the Derbyshire section, there are several especially large fishing platforms to accommodate wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
Walking and Cycling
All of the towpath is accessible to walkers. Cyclists can cover it all, but some bits, e.g. the uphill section from the western portal of the Norwood Tunnel to the M1 will probably require getting off and pushing the bike.
Pushchairs should be fine everywhere, though wheels may get muddy in winter and it will be a bit tricky in the section mentioned above.
The situation for wheelchairs and mobility scooters varies. In the western section, it is excellent since Derbyshire County Council (which owns it) has resurfaced the whole of the towpath from the floodlock at St Helena’s to Staveley Town Basin. Beyond this point, the Trans-Pennine Trail is fine to Killamarsh, where Killamarsh Greenway takes over. Derbyshire County Council has an excellent Access map of the whole county including the canal. It is available at all their outlets and at Hollingwood Hub.
From the end of Killamarsh Greenway to the eastern portal of the Norwood Tunnel, wheelchair and mobility scooter access is not possible apart from the old Kiveton Colliery site.
From Kiveton Park station through to West Stockwith, the canal and most of the towpath is owned by the Canal & River Trust. Generally, the section from Kiveton Park to Worksop has been well maintained and is heavily used. In one or two places there are gates to prevent motorbikes that require a key from the C&RT. At Turnerwood, the towpath ducks under a bridge, and there are a couple of steps in place which impede access. Bridges can be a bit of a problem, because, in addition to low headroom under bridges, there is an issue of cobbles under a number of bridges that makes the going quite rough.
The section east of Worksop to West Stockwith is mixed in terms of the quality of the towpath – sometimes extremely access friendly and sometimes in desperate need of repair.
Please note that K Barriers are used widely on the canal towpath in the eastern section. They have been removed on the western (Derbyshire) section. These are fine for most mobility scooters (see photo below), but the latest, very big scooters may not be able to pass through.
We recommend the following sections for mobility scooter access
Tapton Lock Visitor Centre in Chesterfield to Hollingwood Hub
A Tramper mobility scooter is available for hire at the Visitor Centre; to see a video of this in action, click here. There is limited parking close by with one reserved parking place for the disabled. There are accessible toilets.
There are several parking places for the disabled in the small car park by the canal at Station Road in Brimington.
There is a Coffee Shop at Hollingwood Hub and an accessible toilet. There is a large car park.
Hollingwood Hub to Staveley (Mill Green Bridge)
There is a small car park next to canal at Mill Green Bridge. Plentiful parking nearby at the public car park at Morrisons supermarket.
Staveley (Mill Green Bridge) to Staveley Town Basin
A location to see the recently restored section and where further work is being undertaken.
The total distance from Tapton Lock to Staveley Basin is just under 5 miles.
Shireoaks to Bracebridge Lock on the east side of Worksop
Resurfaced recently and an excellent smooth ride.
Retford to West Retford Lock
There is a small car park next to the Bay Tree Café. Go up past Town Lock and on to West Retford Lock. There is a hard surface, but there are many puddles after rain.
West Stockwith Basin
There are hard surfaces all round the basin.
The towpath between Hollingwood Hub and Mill Green. (Photo courtesy David Blackburn)