GUIDE TO THE RIVER DERWENT
(Darley Abbey to Church Wilne)
NAME OF RIVER: Derwent
WHERE IS IT?: Derbyshire.
Put In - Darley Abbey (SK 353 383). Either carry across from the car park and put in anywhere along the river, or park slightly upstream and put in above the weir/
Take out - Option 1 - Draycott (SK 445 326). Option 2 (SK 452 314) - Church Wilne
APPROX LENGTH: 10 miles to Draycott or 12 miles to Church Wilne
TIME NEEDED: all day including playtime at weirs / the Church Wilne wave
ACCESS HASSLES: Occasional angry fisherman, particularly around Borrowash and Church Wilne. There are signs at the Church Wilne take out stating “no launching of canoes or other craft”.
WATER LEVEL INDICATORS: EA gauge at Derby - 0.6 is probably the absolute minimum to be able to slide over all the weirs, though the bits in between and the Church Wilne rapid will probably go at lower levels. 0.75 is a good flow. Further calibration needed to work out what is too high to make the weirs fun.
GRADING: Mainly flat plus weirs and 1 Gd 2(ish, maybe) rapid at Church Wilne.
MAJOR HAZARDS/ FALLS: Weirs.
This is a great fun trip to do when there is no water in anything decent. Some of the weirs are quite a hoot, and the playwave at Church Wilne can hold interest for a while.
SK 353 383 0.0km (0.0km) - Put in above or below Darley Abbey weir. Paddling downstream from here is a pleasant bimble through nice countryside. Occasional rowers could be encountered. Entering Derby City Centre, a submerged wall / weir type thing (look for the birds stood on it) signals the approaching Derby Weir. You can get beached on this on low flows, but there is a gap in the middle.
SK 356 363 2.3km (2.3km) - Derby weir. Fairly steep slope on to concrete base which extends out some way from the weir. Can be portaged river right around the fish ladder.
SK 386 342 4.2km (6.5km) - Alvaston weir - Shallow slope leading to ~1 foot drop. Shallows below take some navigating at low levels. Shingle beach river right after the weir makes a nice lunch stop. Can be portaged river right through the trees to the footpath.
SK 394 341 0.9km (7.4km) - Spondon sluice - 5 gated sluice with ~1 metre drop. Nice boof practice. Open canoeists with a sense of adventure and a good drysuit can have a go at this one. Can be portaged river right.
SK 404 339 1.2km (9.6km) - Borrowash weir - 120 metre wide, 10 foot tall vertical S shaped weir. The weir curves up gently at the bottom onto a concrete apron which extends out from the base. In very low conditions this dries up completely. When there is water however it’s great fun in a short boat. Best shot when a small crowd has gathered on the footpath river right. In low conditions shooting this results in a exciting skid across the weir apron. In high conditions it turns into a 120m wide towback of death. Can be portaged either side. Or more likely you’ll want to carry back up and do it again.
Several miles of flat water through nice scenery with the occasional shallows / riffle leads to....
SK 445 326 7.2km (16.8km) Draycott takeout - river left up steep bank
… or continue....
SK 441 316 2.1km (18.9km) - Church Wilne weir 1 - shallow V shaped weir with closed in sides. Middle often has huge stopper and towback. River right often has less towback and a good eddy. River left has a powerful recirculating eddy which pulls you back up to the weir. Main flow below the weir is boily and aerated. Can be portaged river right.
SK 442 316 0.2km (19.1km) - Church Wilne weir 2 - broken weir forming a rapid / playwave. Great moving water practice and a hours of fun on a nice little playspot. More info needed on what levels it works best at.
SK452315 1.0km (20.1km) Church Wilne takeout - to avoid upsetting whoever owns the ‘no canoeing’ signs, it’s possible to take out river right, carry across the footbridge and pop out at the layby. Or you can take out river left.
A nice play session can be arranged by getting on at Draycott and paddling down the 2 Church Wilne weirs, stopping for as much playtime as desired. Shuttle is around 1 mile (so possible to do on foot) as the put in and takeout are on the same road.
CONTRIBUTOR: Andy Pagett.