We love welcoming families to Cromford Mills! Learn about the children who used to work here, the machines that made Arkwright rich, and the man who built the mill: Sir Richard Arkwright himself. Watch the water crash into the wheel pit, enjoy tasty treats from our cafes and discover the beautiful wild areas beyond the Mill Walls. Then don’t forget to feed the ducks before you go home!
Please note: Cromford Mills is open, but the Visitor Centre is still closed. Guided Tours will restart on 17th May. Please see our Visit Us page for the most up-to-date visitor information.
Here are some answers to some Frequently Asked Questions. If you have a question that is not answered below, or you would like to give us feedback on your visit, you can email Eleanor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can we do?
There is lots to do for families at Cromford Mills! You can visit our Visitor Centre, meet Sir Richard Arkwright in the Arkwright Experience, watch the water turn our model water wheels, splash in puddles in the mill yard, and enjoy a hot chocolate or ice cream from our cafes. Buy duck food from Wheatcroft’s Wharf Café to feed the ducks on the canal, or explore our Beyond the Mill Walls area by the river to find animal sculptures and more. Check out the Resources for Families at the bottom of this page to find fun activities to do from home, and keep an eye on our Events page for specific events aimed at families.
Do we have to book?
You do not need to book to enter the mill yard or go to one of our cafés. If you are coming for a specific event, please check the Events page to see if you need to book in advance. In line with current regulations we are asking all our visitors to take part in the Test and Trace scheme, so you will need to scan the QR code at the entrance to the mill yard, or give your contact details to the member of staff inside the green kiosk.
What do we need to bring?
Come dressed for the weather. Our mill yard can get pretty windy, and there are often puddles if it’s been raining, so we recommend wellies for little ones! There is not much shade in the yard so if it is hot, bring sun cream and hats.
If you’re doing the Arkwright Experience, we recommend layers, as the introductory space in the Visitor Centre can be very warm, but the First Mill is often cold. The marquee and Education room can also be quite cold, so wear warm clothes if you are doing an activity in there.
Bring pocket money for ice creams or hot chocolates, depending on the season!
Is the mill yard safe?
Our mill yard is safe for visitors but there are some historical hazards that we ask everyone to be aware of. The ground in the mill yard can be uneven, and there is access to open water in our watercourse. Vehicles have restricted access to the mill yard to drop off deliveries at our retail tenants, so please keep an eye on your children at all times. The road outside has a narrow pavement and currently only the gate from the car park is open, so please be careful upon entering the mill site. There are trained first aiders onsite at all times, so just ask a member of staff if you need any help.
Where can we eat?
Due to current coronavirus restrictions, you can buy takeaway food only from Arkwright’s Café in the mill yard, or from our new Counting House Coffee Stop on the canal wharf area. Our staff are allergy-aware, and we have a wide range of vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free items on our menu. If you have any concerns, you can speak to our café manager Steve and he will be happy to see what we can do to accommodate your needs during your visit. The staff can also make up picnic boxes for children, just ask when you place your order.
Can we bring our dog?
Yes, well-behaved dogs are welcome in the mill yard and the Visitor Centre. They are allowed in The Mill Shop and Arkwright’s Café, and the ground floor of Wheatcroft’s Wharf. Other shops on site may have their own dog policies, so please check before taking your dog in.
Is the site buggy-friendly?
Yes, the site is mostly buggy-friendly. Some of the mill yard is uneven and slopes up towards the first mill, but the Visitor Centre is entirely accessible. There are ramps up to the Mill Shop and Arkwright’s Café. The toilet in Wheatcroft’s Wharf is up a spiral staircase on the first floor, but the toilets in the Mill Yard are accessible via a ramp. Scarthin Rock is accessed via steep steps and is not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs.
Are there toilets and baby changing facilities?
There are toilets in the mill yard, between Arkwright’s Café and The Mill Shop. These include a unisex baby changing facility. There is one toilet upstairs in Wheatcroft’s Wharf. There is also a Changing Places toilet in the council car park on the canal wharf.
Is it expensive?
Entry to the mill yard is free! Normally, entry to the Visitor Centre and guided tours is free for under 16s too. However, due to current coronavirus restrictions, our heritage offer is currently closed. Our car park is pay and display. It is £3 for 4 hours. You can pay by cash or card, and if the machine is not working, you can pay in The Mill Shop. If our car park is full, there is a car park across the road by the canal, run by the Council.
How do we get to you?
By car, train, bus or foot! You can find directions to the mill here.
What is Beyond the Mill Walls?
Beyond the Mill Walls is an exciting outdoor area that is great for families, whatever the weather! The project has been funded by The Postcode Local Trust and covers our wild area between the car park and the river. There are new picnic benches and sculptures to find, as well as our Scavengers' Scramble trail and dogwood tunnels. In the summer you can enjoy following secret paths mown into the wildflower meadow. There is also a den building area for older children, and you can climb the steps to the top of Scarthin Rock to admire the mill yard and Willersley Castle from above.
We are signed up to the Kids in Museums Manifesto: https://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/manifesto/
Resources for Families
Here are some resources to use before or during your visit. All downloads can be found at the bottom of the page.
2020 Play Trail Challenge – Download our new fun trail that takes you around the site and provides playful challenges to complete during your visit.
Seasonal Flower and Nature Hunts – part of our Beyond the Mill Walls project, these will help you explore our Church Walk meadows!
Christmas Crafts – get creative at Christmas time with these natural and sustainable ideas for decoration.
World Heritage Site activities – more fun learning activities can be found here on the Derwent Valley Mills website: http://www.derwentvalleymills.org/learn/learning-families/ In particular, click here to find out about the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and watch a short video explaining why our valley is so special!