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Introducing: CPRE Derbyshire Wellbeing Walks

Lewis Townsend
By Lewis Townsend
15th July 2021

We’re excited to be kicking off a series of walks exploring the best of Derbyshire, with the first one taking place on Sunday 8th August with a walk along the Cromford Canal path.

The Wellbeing Walks are a series of walks which we warmly invite CPRE members and non-members to join, with the purpose of exploring and discovering some of the most beautiful scenery that Derbyshire has to offer, as well as get some exercise and meet likeminded people. All walks are free, and we will ensure that they’re are as easy-going and accessible as possible, and can be taken at your own pace!

CPRE Wellbeing Walk #1 – Cromford Canals – 8th August 2021, 10am

Meet point: Cromford Wharf

This is an easy-going, flexible and flat route which is suitable for all ages – so do bring along friends, family and dog(s) (on lead!)

From the wharf, the walk takes us along the canal path about one mile to High Peak Junction, where you can see some of the history around the Cromford and High Peak Railway, which was built in 1831.

At the High Peak Junction there’s a shop and coffee bar where you can buy snacks and drinks, plenty of outdoor seats and benches to watch the world go by.  You can visit the workshops of the High Peak Junction Railway, the oldest railway workshops in the world, where for a small fee, you can book an audio tour. Another quarter a mile walk, we next reach the Leawood Pump House.

The Leawood Pump House was built in 1849 to lift water from the River Derwent into the canal. It can process 39000 tons of water a day, and was only allowed to run from 8pm on Saturday night to 8pm on Sundays to ensure that sufficient river flow remained to pump the watermills further down the valley. The Leawood Pump House is open on Sunday 8th August for steaming from 12pm onwards and tickets can be bought in advance for timed entry (ring 01629 533298 for tickets).

From the Leawood Pump House the walk takes us to Aqueduct Cottage, which is currently under restoration, and will become a Visitors’ Centre. This land has now been given to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. The hill can be climbed for a great view of the trees and wildlife managed by the Trust, down to the River Derwent.

Ducks on Cromford Canal | Photo: A J, via Flickr. CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0.

The canal walk becomes less populated and a lot more reedbeds and wildlife can be seen. In addition trains can be seen running on the Matlock line. After about 2.3 miles from Cromford Wharf, is the Gregory Tunnel, passing through here, a cross path can be taken for a quarter of a mile up into Whatstandwell Village to the Homesford Cottage Tea Rooms for brunch and refreshments.

On Sunday 8th August Whatstandwell are running their Gardens in Bloom event, and residents are opening their gardens up to the public at a cost of £4 per person. Please go along and support, if interested. There will be some pot plants also available for sale.

At this point, some walkers may wish to head back to the canal and make their way back to Cromford Wharf. Those wishing to go a little further can continue another 2.5 miles along the canal path to the current end of the renovated canal at Ambergate (five miles from Cromford Wharf). For those that do take this walk, we recommend the Hurt Arms for lunch or tea!

The walk back is simply reversing the outward journey, and another great place for a drink or food is Boat Inn, Cromford, which is where you might see some of us CPRE folk enjoying a refreshing drink after the walk.

Cromford Canal Photo: Ian Wakefield, via Flickr. CC-BY-NC-2.0.