(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) -- Wadhamite
2014 Aug 17 01:34:54 PM
Thank you, that's great :)
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- rogersavery
2014 Aug 15 03:40:45 PM
No restrictions, Matlock Canoe Club don't control the navigation rights!

But if someone is obviously racing a slalom kayak through the gates, give them room

If you want to make it a trip, the best launch is behind the Grouse and Claret at Rowsley, just ask the manager at the bar (with the promise you will be eating/drinking at the pub afterwards)

If you only want the moving water, get on at the artist corner car park (between Matlock and Matlock Bath)

The steps down are at the back of the car park next to 2 posts (there used to be a sign here about not paddling upstream - the sign was removed by the council after I pointed out they didn't have the right to control navigation once on the river)
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- Wadhamite
2014 Aug 15 03:12:35 PM
What's the sitch with paddling this section? Do we have to contact MCC before running it if there's only three of us? Does the slalom course run at lower water levels? I saw some restrictions mentioned til August BH Saturday - we're planning on going on the Sunday, so I'm guessing that's fine...
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- Pete K
2014 Jul 18 11:41:48 AM
Peak Forest Canal and the Cromford Canal.
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- RBranston
2014 Jun 16 09:26:10 AM
My brother and I are visiting the Peak District the week after next. I have a 2+1 inflatable Sevylor Tahiti boat. I've only been in it a couple of times and we're looking for a suitable place to paddle in the Peak District. Any thoughts greatly appreciated.
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