The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site.
In 2001 the section of the Derwent Valley from the Silk Mill in Derby to the Masson Mill at Matlock Bath was declared ‘The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site’ by UNESCO. Why? Because Richard Arkwright and others established the World’s first successful factory system in the textiles industry. It was not the first, but it was so much more successful than any previous systems.
In addition to the industrial archaeology of this 15 mile stretch of the Derwent, there are plenty of other attractions along the way.
Starting in Derby at the Silk Mill (museum of engineering), you can cycle along the riverside, crossing the Derwent at the old railway bridge to Parker’s Piece. The cycleway here is shared with walkers and is surfaced with hardcore so it is not exactly road cycling but it is far from mountain biking! At the other end of Darley Park you will find the Darley Abbey Mills, housing numerous small businesses. Cross the Derwent into Darley Abbey village and you will find the Darley Abbey pub, an interesting old building in itself which was once part of the eponymous abbey.
The next section is fairly busy. From Darley Abbey, take the A6 to Allestree, where you turn right and follow Ford Lane to the very busy A38 dual carriageway. You don’t need to cycle on that as there is a cycle path alongside it which takes you to little Eaton. Where it ends, just after the millenium monument, follow Duffield Road (which becomes Eaton Bank), turn right at the Bridge Inn and head through to Milford and the A6 again. If time allows and you need refreshment, try the Hollybush at Makeney, tucked away up to the right opposite the Makeney Hall Hotel – real ale from the jug (and hand pump). Anyway, back at Milford, you will see the Mill and the weir. Instead of heading straight through Belper to get to Belper Mill, take the much quieter Chevin Road which runs parallel to the A6 on the opposite bank. At the end of Chevin Road, turn left, then left again quite soon and the (Ashbourne) road drops you down to Belper Mill. There is a small heritage centre plus tours of the world’s first fireproof mill.
The next stage involves a bit of uphill. From Belper Mill take Belper Lane which brings you out at the Bull’s head Pub at Belper Land End. Turn right and follow that road past the Bear at Alderwasley and on to the junction of roads at the Malt Shovel. Take the road straight on to Bolehill.
Just before it joins the main road at Steeple Grange, turn right, under the low narrow bridge that carries the High Peak Trail at Black Rocks. Black Rocks is a small area with impressive cliffs where locals come to climb, walk and relax. After Black Rocks picnic area, drop down the steep Cromford hill where you will find Richard Arkwright’s celebrated Cromford Mill.
The Heritage Corridor ends with Masson Mills a few hundred metres up the road at Matlock Bath. Masson Mills is a shopping centre, cafe and museum rolled into one.
There are various ways to return, either go back the way you came or blast back down the A6, the choice is yours.
Disclaimer (probably not really necessary but just in case …)
This route is just a suggestion to give you an idea of what you could do. We recommend that you research the points of interest for yourself in order to get the most out of it. This description should not be used in this form for navigation. It is up to your party to decide whether a route is suitable or not for yourselves and to make sure that you are properly equipped. Navigation is also the responsibility of your party. We cannot accept any liability for injuries or other mishaps.