(Darley Dale to Matlock)


WHERE IS IT?: The River Derwent is in the tourist town of Matlock, in Derbyshire. The accessible section runs parallel to the A6, which runs from Derby to Bakewell.

PUT-INS/ TAKE-OUTS: There are 3 get-ins although the first (Darley Dale) has dubious access. The Darley Dale access point is situated on the B5057. If travelling from Derby turn off the A6, towards the carriage museum. This will take you on the B5057 which then goes over a small bridge by a pub. Immediately after this bridge turn left into a small parking area (GR. 271620). The Environment Agency, River Authority or similar has put steps here for canoeists but the access is still delicate? The second access point is from Artist's Corner. Travelling from Matlock towards Derby on the A6 you will go under a bridge and then spot a pub on your right (The Boat, good pub!). After this you will spot a big car park on the left (GR. 296595). The river runs along the back of this car park, steps lead from the car park to the river. The final access point, the slalom course, is further along the same road, continuing in the same direction the road bears left where you will spot a grassy area on the left (I think it has wooden benches on it?). Just after this there is a small layby on the left (295593). You can park here of an evening, however it can cause problem if used during the day as it is the parking spaces of a local business. So please find alternative parking before 6.00pm (There's plenty along the roadside). The get out point is approx. 500m further along the road, where more parking is available so you can park the car here walk up and have the car ready for the end of the session!

APPROX LENGTH: 4-5 km approx. from Darley Dale. The usual stretch from Artists corner is approx. 1km.

TIME NEEDED: 1 hour or so from Darley Dale, Artist's corner is basically just play time as it can be run in about 5-10 mins.

ACCESS HASSLES: Contact Chris Martin, Local River Advisor, for up to date info, particularly for the Darley Dale section! (Chris's contact info on

'Darley Dale to Artists corner. There is no access on this stretch and you will jepoardise what little good relations that exist between paddlers and the locals.' - Rory

WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: Looking at the slalom section from the road you will see a rock (known as 'killer rock'?) if this is at least half covered then the full run can be done. However you can see where you will be paddling so it's fairly obvious whether or not you can paddle it!

GRADING: Grade II, with Grade I sections.

MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: From Darley Dale the main Hazards are the two Bridges (the railway bridge before entering Matlock and the road bridge in Matlock) although not major hazards they are something to be aware of with novice groups.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: From Darley Dale to Matlock it is a gentle grade I. The section under the Matlock road bridge steps up to Grade II before settling off to grade I again until Artist's Corner. At Artist's Corner the water forms a small shoot with eddies either side. It provides a great spot to coach breaking in and out to beginners. The river then becomes a Grade I run until the Slalom Course (which is evident with the poles across the river!) The slalom course is a gentle grade II with various eddies to play with. The main feature is 'Killer rock' (not as bad as the name implies!) which is a big boulder that in the right water level can create a pourover in which cartwheels can be performed, for those of you with the skills like! Further along the course a surf wave is created which can be fun. Just after this wave the get out point is on river right and up the steps.

OTHER NOTES: The Derwent isn't the most 'radical' of rivers but it does proved the opportunity for beginners to get a feel of moving water and regular paddlers the opportunity to practice basic WW skills.

Also consider paddling from further downstream at Milford.

CONTRIBUTED BY: Mick Wood. Stolen from his coaching website, also Rory.

Community Forum Comments on this Article
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- Pete K
2011 Jul 23 08:11:23 PM
The most popular site in Derbyshire but sadly little info.

Paddled today from the Matlock Canoe Club steps upstream to the wave by Artists Corner car park and back again to the end of the slalom course.
EA River Level Gauge showed 0.45m
I'd rate this as a low level but not a scrape.

We paddled in traditional open canoes & 1 spec boat and apart from the odd rocky bit near the banks and the slalom course it was plenty deep enough for some skills practice and teaching novices. It would of course be a good level for kayaking too.

Next on the list is getting on at Rowsley or from Bakewell on the Wye.
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- G32turbo
2011 Jul 26 11:33:41 AM
Hi Pete,

Was that you with the orange van? Was going to stop and say hello but you looked a bit busy. My son has just moved to the Matlock area and mentioned the slalom pole section so I was down there having a look on Saturday. Level looked to be about minimum for a decent run. I'm not that experienced but have run a few North Eastern rivers mainly grade 2 with bits of grade 3. The run didn't look very long. Would you think it's worth hauling my kayak and kit down there next time I visit?

Cheers, Tony
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- Pete K
2011 Jul 26 11:59:35 AM
Hi Tony, yep it was me with the orange van. Feel free to stop and say hello next time.
A run from Darley Dale to the Slalom Course is a good couple of hours with a bit of play or Artists Corner CP to the Slalom Course for some messing about can take whatever time you want. Both are worth while if your in the area and you can do as many runs on the Slalom as you can be bother to do coz it is an easy carry back to the start (even with an OC/OC1).
As for levels, you could run it a bit lower in a kayak but it gets a bit bumpy for expensive Royalex canoes. When it goes up after rain the features get a bit more meaty.

Drop me a line if you want to do a Darley to Matlock run and need a shuttle sometime, I may be free.
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- gonzo
2011 Jul 28 09:45:30 PM
Regional guide - Darley Dale to Matlock Bath - empaddlers website
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- Rjo103
2012 Apr 05 10:01:18 PM
Anyone out tomorrow (6 April) from Darley Dale to the slalom course? We're heading down about midday and it would be good to meet any locals heading down!

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