(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) -- damppaddler
2016 Jul 11 09:05:13 PM
For the sake of completeness:
Upstream to downstream

1. Peak Shopping village (Rowsley) - discreetly unload at the back of the car park, hop over the stile with your kit and move the car back onto the public road that leads to the car park (the car park is locked out of hours so if your late back and you didn't move your car, expect an overnighter in the car) - the launch is a bit muddy, but calm and big
2. Grouse and Claret pub (Rowsley) - ask the manager at the bar and they will let you launch at the back of the campsite behind the pub - nice calm eddy - you can park in the pub car park
3. Peak railway - turn off the A6 half way between Rowsley and darleydale - council recycling center on one side, council depot on the other. Turn left towards the peak railway and pull over just past the small bridge, unload and walk down the river with the stream on your right. Nice gravely bank. Park back by the council refuse centre
4. The arc - opposite the arc sports centre - pull off the road into a car parking area - park and unload. Cross the railway (public footpath/crossing) and walk across the fields to the river and launch
5. Sainsburys bridge (Matlock) - follow a6 into Matlock - at the 1st roundabout (next to the flats) turn right over the bridge towards Sainsburys - as you go over the bridge pull up onto the pavement on the right (there is a dropped curb) unload and walk down to the foot path and then start to go towards the bridge - you should see a small cutting down to the river - banks a bit steep but manageable - there some rocks at river level to launch from. Park your car 200m back up the A6 on the right
6. Upper Sainsburys (Matlock) - turn in to Sainsburys but carry on to the right up the hill - pull over and park on the road by the old quarry? entrance road - walk down the quarry road and you will eventually come to the footpath by the river. Go under the bridge and there is a tree stump and rocks in the river - launch here.
7. Square and Compass raft launch (Darley bridge) - ask in the pub
8. Darley bridge - go past the pub, over the bridge and take an immediate left - park opposite the lorry yard - unload and launch

I can't guarrentee you won't be challenged with any of the launches by fishermen - stay polite and just carry on
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- pixulator
2016 Jul 10 02:05:13 PM
Went down and had a look at Damppaddlers option 2. Good easy / short path with large flat area.

Went back at 12 pm (sunday) and an angler was on the spot. I was not keen on conversing, being by myself, so left.

Gate on right after bridge.

Lovely little spot for a beginner like me.
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- andypagett
2016 Jul 09 02:54:06 PM
Cheers for the updates both! I will look into those two new launches as this is a semi regular club trip for us.

With the Grouse and Claret I find it worth phoning ahead and agreeing with the manager as the bar staff sometimes don't know about boat launching.

The other launch at the moment is to go just past the square and compass, over the bridge, turn left just before the HGV place and there are some car parking spaces. You can get down to the river there. There is often a 'no canoe launching' sign there. And there often isn't.
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- damppaddler
2016 Jul 09 02:34:21 PM
We launched at the grouse and claret last Saturday - we asked the manager in the pub first and he was perfectly ok with us launching there.

I'm working on a couple of alternative launches, I post more details shortly.

1st is the back of the car park for the shopping area at rowsley - my lad assures me you can get down to the river there - and then park you vehicle on the public road leading to the car park
2nd is of the road to the council tip/peak railway - drive towards peak railway and pull over after crossing a small stream - unload and transport boats thought the woods to a small pebble beach on the river - park the vehicle back on the public road by the council tip
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- pixulator
2016 Jul 09 09:48:23 AM
Hi new to the site but thought I would post an update on this old thread as it came up on google anyway.

Based on advice here I went to the Grouse and Claret at Rowsley and asked at the reception desk if I could launch and was told NO the landowners do not like it. But that I should try The Square and Compass.

The manager at The Square and Compass told me that YES it's fine but as he was leasing the launch area (a very small spot at the bottom of some steps just before the bridge) to a rafting operator that I should just not interfere with his business and it would be fine.

I'll second the previous advice and be sure to spend some money in the Pub as a way to foster good will towards us.
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