(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) -- Rae1
2017 Apr 10 05:56:03 PM
I thought fishing wasnt allowed between late March and early June?

Anyway, I do the Darley Bridge to Matlock section with some regularity. Never had a problem in getting on at either the Square and Compass or near the transport depot. Fishermen on this section have never been a problem, except for one extremely grumpy one on Jan. 2nd this year. He was just below the top weir at Artists Corner car park. I went to the opposite bank to ask if he minded us on the river near him, or should we go further up to not bother him. I just got a load of abuse off him, saying I had ruined his day! He was so wound up that I expected him to have a heart attack.

Contrast that to another guy on the lower weir who didnt mind 4 people in that area, he said it might perk the fish up a little and he might get a bite. Doubtful as it was about freezing at the time.

Where did you get on at the Grouse and Claret?

I looked there last year, at the back of the caravan site, close to the bridge, but it was so overgrown, that I went back to Darley bridge.
Re: RIVER DERWENT (Darley Dale to Matlock) -- andypagett
2017 Apr 10 12:32:40 PM
Two hassle reports from this weekend (8 April 2017)

1. We made arrangements to get on at The Grouse and Claret. Duty Manager Paul had no issue with this. However as we were doing the car shuttle, those left behind got on the water to warm up and were soon meet by a gentleman from Haddon Hall estate. He politely told everyone to get off the river, explaining that "although the pub can grant access to the river bank, they can't grant permission to use the river, as that belongs to Haddon Hall estate who have refused this permission". He also stated that he receives regular complaints from fisherman about canoeist who have disregarded this instruction. Unfortunately I was not there at the time being as I was doing the car shuttle, so was not able to engage him in discussion. The group left behind complied with his request without discussion as he "seemed fairly certain of himself". When I returned I discussed with the group the opposing views on river access, and the decision was made that as we were accessing the river via land which we had been granted permission to cross, and were egressing via an agreed location (slalom course steps), we were within our rights (as we understand them) to paddle. We did not see the gentleman again that day.

2. A couple of hundred metres above Darley Bridge we met a group of three anglers. Unfortunately again it was another member of our group that spoke to them, so I did not have the opportunity to engage them in discussion. They themselves seemed to have no issue with us passing, and were polite and friendly as any civil folk who meet each other in the countryside ought to be. They did however pass on to us "just to let you know for next time that you aren't allowed on here as the owners have stated no canoeing". I guess this is just something they have been told and probably have no idea that any access debate even exists, they just seemed to be getting on with their day and were happy for us to get on with ours; probably understood that they were being helpful!

Otherwise we had a great day teaching open canoe skills. The section from Rowsley to Darley Bridge is excellent for this as there are a lot more easy whitewater features that can be used for teaching / practicing ferryglides, eddy outs, s-turns etc than on the stretch below Darley Bridge which is largely flat until Matlock Road Bridge.

Checkout out some of the other access points described by damppaddler above and would suggest number 3 (also described by pixulator) as a good get on. There is lots of parking, easy access to the river, a nice beach to launch off, no worry about being challenged by people at the shopping village or having to ask permission at the pub, and you get in above all but about 3 of the useable features.
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.

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.
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