(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.