Ashby Canal, Bosworth Battlefield
Selected Wild Place / Other Wild Places / Public Rights of Way / VC55 boundary
This stretch of the canal runs from The Sutton Cheney Wharf (Wharf Lane), past Anbion Wood and the Bosworth Battlefield, to Shenton Lane.
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Sutton Cheney Wharf (cafe)
Total species seen at this site: 62
The canal was opened in 1804 with the purpose of servicing the Leicestershire coalfield, but by the 1830s its industrial use was in decline. Originally extending as far north as Moira, the canal suffered mining subsidence resulting in the draining, in 1944 and again in 1957 and 1966, of successive lengths of the northernmost 10 km (6 miles). Much of this stretch was subsequently filled with pulverized fuel ash. The canal then terminated just north of the Snarestone Tunnel at SK 346099, but is navigable from that point to the county boundary near Hinckley and beyond to Bedworth, where it joins the Coventry Canal.
The lowest point in the use of the Ashby Canal was probably in the early 1960s when, although still maintained, it had lost practically all of its commercial traffic. Since that time there has been a considerable expansion in the use by pleasure boats and this has resulted in active management to facilitate passage and to reduce the effects of bank erosion.
Recent surveys indicate a dramatic deterioration in the quality of the canal’s aquatic flora and plans to restore parts of the canal and to increase boat traffic give little hope of a recovery, other than in possible off-line refuges.
The canal follows a contour line and is lockless. As a result there are no currents, which perhaps accounts for the vast quantities of free-floating aquatics such as Ivy-leaved Duckweed Lemna trisulca. The flora of the canal was formerly rich, characterised by the occurrence in quantity on its margins of species such as Common Fleabane Pulicaria dysenterica, Purple-loosestrife Lythrum salicaria, Water Mint Mentha aquatica, Large Bitter-cress Cardamine amara and Blunt-flowered Rush Juncus subnodulosus. At least nine Potamogeton species, including the nationally scarce Grass-wrack Pondweed P.compressus, have been recorded in the water, while there are remarkable old records of Floating Water-plantain Luronium natans and Greater Bladderwort Utricularia vulgaris.
The Ashby Canal still held, in the 2010s, probably the largest remaining Water Vole population in Leicestershire.
The records and images below may include those from adjacent sites if the grid reference submitted with these records overlaps the boundary of this Wild Place.