Grantham Canal (Harby to Redmile)


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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. 

Other Wild Places

Total species seen at this site: 378


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.  

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Latest Records

Common Name Latin Name Date Recorded Recorded By
Arizona CypressCupressus arizonica20/03/2017Steve Mathers
Buff-tailed BumblebeeBombus terrestris20/03/2017Steve Mathers
Sweet VioletViola odorata16/03/2017Steve Mathers
Arizona CypressCupressus arizonica16/03/2017Steve Mathers
Colt's-footTussilago farfara16/03/2017Steve Mathers
GreenfinchCarduelis chloris07/03/2017Steve Mathers
Long-tailed TitAegithalos caudatus07/03/2017Steve Mathers
Red Dead-nettleLamium purpureum07/03/2017Steve Mathers
White Dead-nettleLamium album07/03/2017Steve Mathers
Chewing Gum LichenLecanora muralis24/02/2017Steve Mathers
Compost WormEisenia veneta24/02/2017Steve Mathers
Common ChickweedStellaria media24/02/2017Steve Mathers
Durham SlugArion flagellus24/02/2017Steve Mathers
Dusky SlugArion subfuscus24/02/2017Steve Mathers
Early CrocusCrocus tommasinianus24/02/2017Steve 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)

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Species List

Group Common Name Latin Name Last Seen
Algae, Bacteria, VirusMossy Willow Catkin GallCauser unknown (Mossy Willow Gall)29/07/2014
Bees, Wasps, AntsHoney BeeApis mellifera08/08/2016
Bees, Wasps, AntsTree BumblebeeBombus hypnorum01/08/2016
Bees, Wasps, AntsRed-tailed BumblebeeBombus lapidarius16/08/2016
Bees, Wasps, AntsCommon Carder BumblebeeBombus pascuorum18/07/2015
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, AntsCommon Bee WaspNomada ruficornis19/05/2013
BeetlesAnaglyptus mysticus14/05/2014
BeetlesAthous haemorrhoidalis19/05/2013
BeetlesGreen Dock BeetleGastrophysa viridula18/07/2015
Beetles22 Spot LadybirdPsyllobora vigintiduopunctata27/09/2016
BeetlesCommon Red Soldier BeetleRhagonycha fulva20/07/2016
BeetlesPea-leaf WeevilSitona lineatus11/09/2016
BirdsSparrowhawkAccipiter nisus25/01/2017
BirdsSedge WarblerAcrocephalus schoenobaenus20/06/2015
BirdsReed WarblerAcrocephalus scirpaceus19/12/2014
BirdsLong-tailed TitAegithalos caudatus19/06/2016
BirdsSkylarkAlauda arvensis24/06/2016
BirdsKingfisherAlcedo atthis12/03/2016
BirdsTealAnas crecca29/09/2012
BirdsMallardAnas platyrhynchos13/12/2016
BirdsSwiftApus apus05/07/2016
BirdsGrey HeronArdea cinerea21/07/2016
BirdsTufted DuckAythya fuligula19/06/2016
BirdsWaxwingBombycilla garrulus23/12/2010
BirdsCanada GooseBranta canadensis29/03/2012
BirdsBuzzardButeo buteo20/07/2016

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