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The High Sheriff of Derbyshire, David Coleman, was a VIP passenger aboard horse-drawn canal boat Birdswood as part of the Derwent Valley Mills Discovery Days programme on Saturday 1st November.

HORSE-DRAWN CANAL RIDE Mr Coleman, who is one of canal restoration charity Friends of the Cromford Canal's 800-plus members and who lives near the route of the canal, took a return trip from Cromford Wharf to Leawood Pump House on the 75-year-old heritage narrow boat pulled by 13-year-old Chelsea, a sturdy Dales x Shire mare.

Returning to the busy Cromford wharfside where crowds were enjoying the fine weather and special family-friendly waterways-related events organised by the FCC, the High Sheriff remarked on the smoothness of the boat ride. He then presented a commemorative brass narrow boat and boat-horse to Lance and Corinne Rose of Alderwasley-based working horse specialists Arraslea Shires, to mark a successful first season of horse-drawn canal cruises run in partnership with the FCC.

The High Sheriff praised the success of Birdswood project in boosting visits to this 'sleeping beauty' canal, noting that so far over 5,000 passengers have enjoyed the Birdswood experience in 2014 and that this new tourism venture was becoming an important asset for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, as well as helping to stimulate the local economy.

Mike Kelley, the FCC's Operations Manager who has guided the Birdswood project since its launch in 2011, said: "Our hard-working volunteers and partners have made this project a success in its first year of business. We will now build on this to give Derbyshire tourism a real boost in future years, and to enable many more people to enjoy the peace and quiet of a canal cruise through a beautiful part of the county; and maybe to share the special experience being pulled along by a horse: after all, there are only five places in Britain where the public can enjoy such a ride."