Cromford Canal and Black Rocks

Weaving up the Derwent Valley for five and a half miles of its length the Cromford Canal passes through stunning countryside.

Sponsored by local businessmen, including Sir Richard Arkwright, the canal was engineered by William Jessop, whose son Josias went on to engineer the Cromford and High Peak Railway, now the High Peak Trail.  The top section of the canal to Cromford was used as a working waterway until 1944.

The 5 mile stretch along the towpath from Cromford Wharf to Ambergate is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and the canal is home to water voles and a variety of wildflowers, birds and ducks.

A mile along the towpath from Cromford Wharf is High Peak Junction and some of the oldest surviving railway workshops in the world; you can find out more at the High Peak Junction Visitor Centre.  Continue a little further and you will find Leawood Pumphouse, built in 1849 and still in pristine working order, and Aqueduct Cottage once part of Florence Nightingale’s family estate and in the process of being restored.

If you fancy a walking challenge – at High Peak Junction you can join the High Peak Trial by taking the route up Sheep Pasture Incline (a 1 in 9 gradient).  The effort is worth it when you reach Black Rocks at the top, with fantastic views of Matlock Gorge, Cromford Mills, Carsington Reservoir, and the Derwent Valley.  From here you can continue along the High Peak Trial or head across Cromford Moor with its woodland trails and heather moorland.  Follow this link for more information about Black Rocks.

Cromford Canal offers flat terrain that can be enjoyed by everyone; you can hire a Tramper, (an ‘all terrain mobility scooter’) from Cromford Mills or High Peak Junction.