Ashby Canal, Shenton

    Selected Wild Place / Other Wild Places / Public Rights of Way / VC55 boundary

    Getting There

    This stretch of the canal runs from Shenton Lane to the south up to Tinsel Lane in the north.


    Site of Special Scientific Interest

    Managed By
    Canal & River Trust
    Wild places

    Total species seen at this site: 36


    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.

    Wildlife Highlights

    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.

    Group Common name Latin name Last seen
    BirdsMandarinAix galericulata05/02/2012
    BirdsMallardAnas platyrhynchos05/01/2021
    BirdsCanada GooseBranta canadensis05/01/2021
    BirdsBuzzardButeo buteo06/07/2013
    BirdsJackdawCorvus monedula05/01/2021
    BirdsMute SwanCygnus olor05/01/2021
    BirdsSpotted FlycatcherMuscicapa striata01/06/2014
    ButterfliesPeacockAglais io21/07/2020
    ButterfliesSmall TortoiseshellAglais urticae21/07/2020
    ButterfliesBrimstoneGonepteryx rhamni21/07/2020
    ButterfliesSpeckled WoodPararge aegeria16/09/2015
    Dragonflies and DamselfliesBanded DemoiselleCalopteryx splendens06/07/2013
    Ferns & HorsetailsBlack SpleenwortAsplenium adiantum-nigrum21/07/2020
    Ferns & HorsetailsWall-rueAsplenium ruta-muraria21/07/2020
    Ferns & HorsetailsHart's-tongueAsplenium scolopendrium21/07/2020
    Ferns & HorsetailsMaidenhair SpleenwortAsplenium trichomanes21/07/2020
    Ferns & HorsetailsRusty-back FernCeterach officinarum21/07/2020
    Grasses, Rushes & SedgesCommon Club-rushSchoenoplectus lacustris21/07/2020
    MammalsWater VoleArvicola amphibius30/03/2017
    ReptilesGrass SnakeNatrix natrix01/07/2015
    SawfliesWillow Redgall SawflyPontania proxima21/07/2020
    Trees, Shrubs & ClimbersOsierSalix viminalis21/07/2020
    WildflowersYarrowAchillea millefolium21/07/2020
    WildflowersLords-and-LadiesArum maculatum21/07/2020
    WildflowersChicoryCichorium intybus21/07/2020
    WildflowersHemlockConium maculatum21/07/2020
    WildflowersBlack BryonyDioscorea communis07/07/2020
    WildflowersMeadow Crane's-billGeranium pratense21/07/2020
    WildflowersGypsywortLycopus europaeus21/07/2020
    WildflowersPurple-loosestrifeLythrum salicaria21/07/2020
    WildflowersYellow Water-lilyNuphar lutea21/07/2020
    WildflowersGreater Burnet-saxifragePimpinella major21/07/2020
    WildflowersArrowheadSagittaria sagittifolia21/07/2020
    WildflowersSkullcapScutellaria galericulata21/07/2020
    WildflowersBranched Bur-reedSparganium erectum21/07/2020
    Woodlice, CrustaceansSignal CrayfishPacifastacus leniusculus21/07/2020