GUIDE TO THE RIVER DERWENT
(Bamford to Calver)
NAME OF RIVER: Derwent
WHERE IS IT?: Peak District
Take out - Calver Bridge. SK246744. It is possible to take out river right immediately after the first bridge. A faint path through the shrubs leads to a footpath to the road. Parking is usually ample on days when the river is up.
Access / egress is physically possible at each road bridge along the way, though some involve a short crossing of private land and appropriate arrangements should be made with the landowner.
APPROX LENGTH: 12km
TIME NEEDED: 3 - 4 hours give or take for play time.
Apart from the first 100m, the situation is pretty dire. The local landowners and fishing club are adamant that canoeing is not allowed on the ‘private land’ that the river passes through. Expect the tweed brigade to have something to say to you if they see you. That said, most people you meet along the way are pleasantly surprised to see the river being used, especially if you entertain them on Calver Weir.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS:
EA Gauge at Chatsworth:
Scrape - 1.25
Low - 1.5
High 1.9 (unconfirmed)
The gauge is some way downstream so it’s worth driving up to Calver Mill rapids to have a look there for a general feel for what the levels will be like. (NB as of writing the EA seem to have brought online a gauge which is actually on this stretch - https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/station/2230?direction=u - but as I haven’t paddled yet this season I don’t yet have calibrations)
The first few hundred metres are controlled by the outflow of Ladybower Reservoir, so can be very bony, but things normally pick up from the River Noe confluence.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS:
Calver Weir is worth an inspection from above as it does tend to gather trees, and some lines lead you into trees lurking below.
Calver Mill rapid is worth a look especially in higher water.
Bloody lovely. Finer scenery you could not wish for. Starting high up in the Peak District, passing through the countryside near Hathersage, below Millstone, Froggatt and Curbar Edges, a great stretch of playwaves, a fun weir, a grade 3 finale, and ending at a pub, this really is a great way to spend a winter day in the Peak District.
The first section is a gentle warm up, never rising above grade 2, with some small waves to play on. Some stepping stones which are a pain in the arse at lower levels, but form nice waves at the level rises
A large house coming into sight on the left indicates that the rocky weir is imminent. Usually not an issue though it can trap trees creating strainers. Beyond this, under a bridge, is a stepped weir.
From here there are several river wide rock ledges / chutes, that could have almost been designed as play features. Each one has some form of wave / stopper / chute to play on, which vary greatly depending on levels - from narrow chutes and ledges to river wide waves.
By the time the river reaches the road bridge in Grindleford it is largely spent, becoming progressively flatter until the road bridge at Froggatt. This bridge (notable for its large arch, apparently designed to accommodate boats in years gone by…) marks the start of a deep, flat section, flanked with NO CANOEING signs nailed to the trees.
Beyond the second bridge, things start to become fun again. Calver Weir, a long slope upon which is possible to pick up enough speed to bounce of the water at the bottom. Can form strong towback in high water. A confused section of water follows below the weir, with many routes though depending on where you dropped the weir. Several grade 1/2 rapids follow.
The finishing flourish is Calver Mill Rapid. Grade 3. A technical rock dodge at lower levels, or a combination of waves and stoppers at higher levels. Possible to portage, inspect, or go back for another go river left. And if it’s your first Gd 3 and you happen to swim, it’s only 100 yard walk to the takeout.
It is possible to start higher up, from Yorkshire Bridge, though this short section probably warrants a separate guide. The levels here are controlled by the water released from Ladybower and its overspills, so the level can be much lower than the rest of the river. There is a river wide ledge drop at the start, several surf waves, and a weir on this section.
It is also possible to continue further, taking out above or below the weir in Bubnell. The Chatsworth Park rangers don’t really like this.
Guide contributed by andypagett
Another of our friends did the section from Bamford to Curbar on Sat. 1st Feb. Had no comments at all toward him, but maybe he just didnt see the locals!
I think you were unlucky. I've done this trip several times and on the rare occasions that I've met locals they've been friendly - more often than not actually been positive and happy to see us on the river, and one one occasion they ran ahead to watch us go down the weir at Froggatt.
Good to see people out on this stretch.
Scrape - 1.0
Low - 1.2
Med - 1.4
High - 1.6
Got on at the sports field in Bamford, off at the road bridge in Froggatt.
The gauge at Mytham bridge was at 1.10.
It is pretty low all the way at this level, the first 100metres are very shallow until the confluence of the River Noe from the right hand side. Any lower and you'd be hard pushed to get a boat down that first section. After that it gets deeper, but you do scrape a bit at many of the rapids
It was at this point that a most unpleasant fellow came out of his house (river left where the rivers meet) and told us we shouldnt be on the river and we should F.O. We didnt exchange pleasantries with him.
A pretty pleasant trip with just enough interest to keep you awake. It is a touring trip really, with a few minor rapids. A great introduction to WW I think.
We got off before the bridge in Froggat, to 2 more unpleasant fellows.
Apparently we should be getting out after the bridge, but "you cant do that anyway as there is a canoeing ban here".
They got ignored, which riled them more, so one of them said they are taking down our car numbers and reporting us! There is a sign on the bridge which says 'No boating/canoeing/bathing'. At that time 2 ladies got into the river for 10 minutes and had a swim. Yes, it was a 7 degrees air temperature, and the water similar. Mad. Yet the moaning blokes didnt have a word with them. It appears semi-naked frozen ladies are allowed to bathe, yet kayakers are not.
Oh well, I'm glad we just ignored them.