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Bennerley Viaduct

Bennerley Viaduct, Ilkeston, Derbyshire, DE7 8PX

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Bennerley Viaduct

About

The astonishing Iron Giant of the Erewash Valley. Bennerley Viaduct is a survivor from the age of steam and coal, the longest Victorian wrought iron viaduct still standing in the UK. Given a new lease of life in 2022, the viaduct is now open for walking and cycling, and visitors are invited to enjoy the views from the deck and explore nature on the path underneath.

Built in 1878 to carry a branch of the Great Northern Railway between Nottingham Victoria and Derby Friargate stations, the viaduct crosses the Notts/Derbyshire border near Ilkeston. Closed to trains in the 1960s, it is now popular with walkers, cyclists and railway enthusiasts, with a new deck where the tracks used to be. With a ramp at one end, and steps at the other, visitors can now take in the spectacular views from the top - where you can see as far as Crich Stand and Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station - as well as exploring the nature area beneath the viaduct, where volunteers are managing a project to bring back wildlife and flora.

Connected to the towpaths of the Nottingham and Erewash canals, and several local walking and cycling routes, it is a local landmark worth including in your plans. 

The viaduct is free to visit and open every day, but the charity which cares for it - the Friends of Bennerley Viaduct - runs guided tours and special events all year round: dates and more information are available via the website and social media. 

Bennerley Viaduct offers an extraordinary close encounter with Victorian engineering ingenuity and an unexpectedly peaceful walk in nature. 

The viaduct is a source of local pride uniting many sections of the community. It is an iconic symbol of the area’s rich industrial heritage and culture. Coal mining and ironworks once played a major role in the local economy. Bennerley Viaduct was used to transport coal and iron ore. Many older local people fondly recall crossing the viaduct on day trips to the seaside.

The viaduct is a source of specific interest to the railway enthusiasts, engineers, transport heritage enthusiasts and industrial archaeologists, but it is also an inspiration for artists and photographers. The internationally famous writer, D. H. Lawrence, grew up in Eastwood - a short distance from the viaduct - and the countryside of the Erewash Valley is the setting for many of his novels and stories. He made direct reference to the viaduct in his writing, and no exploration of 'Lawrence Country' is complete without a visit to the viaduct. 

 

The Bennerley Viaduct Skywalk - A short walk for families of all abilities

This walk over and around Bennerley Viaduct offers a unique experience to get up close to a magnificent piece of history. The viaduct offers an exhilirating skywalk and with its new ramp approach on the Erewash Canal side, it is accessible for wheels of all kinds - mobility scooters, wheelchairs, child buggies, bikes or scooters. Choose the shorter accessible wheels friendly route or the longer circular route.

Download the pdf file below for full details of the route including a map and details of how to reach the viaduct by car, bus or train.

 

Viaduct location:

Ramp access from towpath of Erewash Canal at Cotmanhay (What Three Words: lasted.start.trains)

Step access from footpath near Awsworth (What Three Words: dwell.pinch.galaxy)

Ordnance Survey Grid Ref: SK 473 438

Directions:

The viaduct is situated between Cotmanhay and Awsworth, near the town of Ilkeston, at Ordnance Survey grid reference SK 473 438. There is now public access on the viaduct itself and it may be viewed from the nearby footpaths and trails.

The viaduct is now a cycling and walking route and is approached on foot or cycle. It is connected to several footpaths and trails, and there is information about this on our website. There is very limited parking in the immediate area itself, but many ways of walking and cycling to the viaduct and accessing it via public transport, especially from Ilkeston station, from where is it is a 15 minute walk, mostly along the towpath of the now disused Nottingham Canal. 

Facilities:

There are currently no visitor facilities at the viaduct. We recommend combining your visit with one to Erewash Museum in Ilkeston town centre, or the D. H. Lawrence Birthplace Museum in Eastwood, where you can experience relevant exhibitions and events, and where facilities are provided. Our website lists nearby places for food and drink, if you are passing through on a walk or bike ride. For special events, temporary facilities may be provided, please check listings for events. 

Dog walkers are welcome, but please keep your dog on a lead when on top of the viaduct and clean up after them. Horse riding and the driving of motorised vehicles (other than mobility scooters and wheelchairs) are not permitted across the viaduct. 

Accessibility:

Bennerley Viaduct is an ongoing project and is not yet fully accessible. Ramp access is from the towpath of the Erewash Canal, at the western end (closest to Cotmanhay). Access at the eastern (Awsworth) end is via steep steps, so visitors with mobility issues or on wheels will likely need to go up and back down the western ramp. Please do note that the walk from the nearest on-street parking to the top of the viaduct via the ramp is about half a mile, along the canal towpath. In addition, the footpaths around the viaduct are uneven and can be muddy in places.

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  • In countryside - Bennerley Viaduct spans the Erewash Valley, crossing the Nottinghamshire-Derbyshire border between Awsworth and Cotmanhay.

Opening Times

Bennerley Viaduct (1 Jan 2024 - 31 Dec 2024)

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