Grantham Canal (Harby to Redmile)

Wildlife Highlights

The SSSI was established in the early 1980’s and periodic dredging and maintenance work is undertaken to try and preserve its' original character. The SSSI was described as one of the best areas of open water and associated marginal habitats in VC55, and representative of the slow river vegetation communities found in central and eastern England.

Today, the Canal comprises sections of dense reedbeds (Phragmites) whilst Bulrush Yellow Iris and Branched Bur-reed are also widespread. Arrowhead, Lesser Water Parsnip, Rigid Hornwort, Water Horsetail and Flowering Rush occur in the  open-water stretches. The Canal banks are commonly covered in Meadowsweet and Willowherb and where grazed, rushes. In summer, between Harby and Stathern Bridge, large patches of the up to 2m tall Great Horsetail dominate the towpath bank with their striped stems and feathery foliage. The section immediately west of Redmile, outside the SSSI, is now choked with Water Soldiers. The hedges along the towpath are predominantly Hawthorn and Blackthorn. Whilst the main trees flanking the canal and towpath include Ash, Sycamore, Alder, Pendunculate (English) Oak, Willows and Elder.

Some sections are well stocked with fish, Pike are the most common with Tench and Rudd also recorded. Great Pond Snails occur throughout and Great Ramshorn Snail is seen best at Stathern Bridge.

In addition to the resident breeding waterbirds (Mute Swan, Mallard, Moorhen and Coot), in summer there are good populations of warblers, the commonest include Reed, Sedge and Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. Swallows, House Martins and Swifts are regularly seen along the Canal in the summer months. Kestrels, Buzzards, Red Kites and Ravens are often seen, whilst Hobby is also present in the summer months. Kingfisher and Grey Heron also visit the Canal but are easily flushed when disturbed. In winter months our resident thrushes are augmented by large, highly mobile flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing and the adjacent ploughed fields often hold flocks of Lesser Black-backed Gull and Black-headed Gull.

The common species of butterflies in the East Midlands are all well represented along the Canal with flight periods usually ranging between March and October. Between April to November 19 species of dragonfly and damselfly have been recorded including the Hairy Dragonfly and Variable Damselfly, both are close to the limit of their range that lies mainly in SE England. Sightings of Emerald Damselfly and Banded Demoiselle are now rare.

Click on the Species List tab at the top of the page to see a complete listing of the species recorded in NatureSpot. 

Wild places

Total species seen at this site: 406


This central part of the Grantham Canal stretches for 5 miles from Harby eastwards through Plungar and Barkestone-le-Vale to Redmile. A Site of Special Scientific Interest covers most of this section stretching from Rectory Bridge, Harby (bridge no.44) to Redmile Mill Bridge (no.53). The Canal opened in 1797 and was closed to boat traffic in 1929. After several decades of public ownership the management of the Canal passed from British Waterways to the newly formed Canal and River Trust in 2012.  

Latest records

Common Name Latin Name Date Recorded Recorded By
RavenCorvus corax26/10/2017Steve Mathers
Oyster MushroomPleurotus ostreatus26/10/2017Steve Mathers
Yellow FieldcapBolbitius titubans25/10/2017Alan Semper
Noon FlyMesembrina meridiana23/10/2017Alan Semper
Whirlpool RamshornAnisus vortex20/10/2017David Nicholls
Black BryonyTamus communis19/09/2017Alan Semper
Bristly OxtongueHelminthotheca echioides19/09/2017Alan Semper
Anthocomus rufus19/09/2017Alan Semper
Black NightshadeSolanum nigrum01/09/2017Steve Mathers
Common DarterSympetrum striolatum01/09/2017Steve Mathers
Ruddy DarterSympetrum sanguineum01/09/2017Steve Mathers
Fat-henChenopodium album01/09/2017Steve Mathers
Migrant HawkerAeshna mixta01/09/2017Steve Mathers
Southern HawkerAeshna cyanea01/09/2017Steve Mathers
Speckled WoodPararge aegeria01/09/2017Steve Mathers
Getting There

This section of the Canal is best reached by A46 or A606 and then be accessed from the minor roads in the area around Harby and Redmile. The towpath runs along the northern bank of the Canal and is a grass track. There is a bespoke car park at Stathern Bridge [SK755324] or alternatively park in the villages of Harby, Plungar, Barkestone-le-Vale (on Jericho Lane) or Redmile.

Managed By
Canal and River Trust (since 2012)

Group Common name Latin name Last seen
Algae, Bacteria, VirusMossy Willow Catkin GallCauser unknown (Mossy Willow Gall)01/08/2011
Bees, Wasps, AntsEarly Mining BeeAndrena haemorrhoa16/04/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsAndrena nitida30/04/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsAndrena scotica07/05/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsHoney BeeApis mellifera08/08/2016
Bees, Wasps, AntsGarden BumblebeeBombus hortorum16/04/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsTree BumblebeeBombus hypnorum01/08/2016
Bees, Wasps, AntsRed-tailed BumblebeeBombus lapidarius16/08/2016
Bees, Wasps, AntsCommon Carder BumblebeeBombus pascuorum25/06/2012
Bees, Wasps, AntsEarly BumblebeeBombus pratorum20/05/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsFour Coloured Cuckoo BeeBombus sylvestris18/07/2015
Bees, Wasps, AntsBuff-tailed BumblebeeBombus terrestris20/03/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsVestal Cuckoo BumblebeeBombus vestalis18/07/2015
Bees, Wasps, AntsBedeguar Gall WaspDiplolepis rosae28/08/2013
Bees, Wasps, AntsDusona circumspectans30/04/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsNomada flava10/06/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsGooden's Nomad BeeNomada goodeniana20/05/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsNomada leucophthalma01/05/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsMarsham's Nomad BeeNomada marshamella18/04/2017
Bees, Wasps, AntsCommon Bee WaspNomada ruficornis19/05/2013
BeetlesAnaglyptus mysticus14/05/2014
BeetlesAnthocomus rufus19/09/2017
BeetlesAthous haemorrhoidalis19/05/2013
Beetles7 Spot LadybirdCoccinella septempunctata10/06/2017
BeetlesDonacia semicuprea20/05/2017
BeetlesStrawberry Leaf BeetleGalerucella tenella04/07/2017
BeetlesGreen Dock BeetleGastrophysa viridula13/09/2013
BeetlesSwollen-thighed BeetleOedemera nobilis04/07/2017
BeetlesNettle WeevilPhyllobius pomaceus20/05/2017
Beetles14 Spot ladybirdPropylea quattuordecimpunctata07/05/2017