A Taste of the
Cycling the UNESCO designated Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, B&B, self catering holiday cottage accommodation, hotels, tourist attractions, walking, climbing, mountain biking history, towns, villages, geology, mining, local information, Derbyshire businesses and much more …
Following the UNESCO World Heritage Site - Derwent Valley Mills
General information on cycling the Peak District and Derbyshire
in the Peak District: Off Road Trails and Quiet Lanes
Peak District (AA 40 Pub Walks & Cycle Rides)
We suggest a start point in Derby as that is easily accessible and well served
by public transport. If you have your own transport, it may be easier to
start from the Matlock Bath end as there is free car parking at Cromford
in several places.
The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site offers a circuit of a little over 30 miles(ish). It is fairly flat from Derby to Belper but then, unless you like cycling busy trunk roads, becomes hilly. If time allows, we suggest a visit to the Derby Museum where you can discover some of the history of the area and see some original paintings by local boy Joseph Wright. The Heritage Corridor heads north from The Silk Mill through Milford, Belper Cromford and ends at Matlock Bath's Masson Mill, about 15 miles . Our suggested route keeps away from main roads as much as possible.
In 2001 the mills of the Derwent Valley from the Silk Mill in Derby to the Masson Mill at Matlock Bath was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Why? Because Richard Arkwright and others established the World's first successful factory system in the textiles industry. It was not the first, but it was so much more successful than any previous systems.
Starting in Derby at the Silk Mill, you can cycle along the riverside, crossing the Derwent at the old railway bridge to Parker's Piece. The cycleway here is shared with walkers and is surfaced with hardcore so it is not exactly road cycling but it is far from mountain biking! At the other end of Darley Park you will find the Darley Abbey Mills, housing numerous small businesses. Cross the Derwent into Darley Abbey village and you will find the Darley Abbey pub, an interesting old building in itself which was once part of the eponymous abbey.
The Silk Mill dates back to the early years of the 18th century and houses a museum, opened in 1974, telling the story of Derby's industrial heritage. Naturally, the emphasis is on the Railways and Rolls Royce aero engines (the 'centrepiece being an engine housed in a modern annexe to the museum) but also acknowledges the other significant local industries such as mining, foundries and pottery. There are hands on exhibits which will keep your kids (if you have any!) happy as you browse the galleries. The area has been 'enhanced' with a new bridge which gives a great viewpoint. Some controversy surrounds the first owners of the Mill, the Lombe family. It is said that John Lombe worked in the silk industry in Italy and copied the designs of the machinery he saw and used - this may or may not have led to his untimely death ... (Wikipedia article >>)
The next sectionor the route linking Darley Abbey Mills to Milford Mill is is fairly busy in places. From Darley Abbey, take the A6 to Allestree, where you turn right and follow Ford Lane to the very busy A38 dual carriageway. You don't need to cycle on that as there is a cycle path alongside it which takes you to little Eaton. Where it ends, just after the millenium monument, follow Duffield Road (which becomes Eaton Bank), turn right at the Bridge Inn and head through to Milford and the A6 again. If time allows and you need refreshment, try the Hollybush at Makeney, tucked away up to the right opposite the Makeney Hall Hotel - real ale from the jug (and hand pump). Anyway, back at Milford, you will see the Mill and the weir. Or at least you will see what remains of the Mill as much of it was demolished in the 1950s and 60s, including Jedediah Strutt's second fireproof mill warehouse building - the first being at Belper North Mill. Milford mill was a water powered cotton mill. You can see the weirs and some of the mill races at the nearby but modern Mill House pub on the banks of the Derwent.
Instead of heading straight through Belper to get to Belper Mill, take the much quieter Chevin Road which runs parallel to the A6 on the opposite bank. At the end of Chevin Road, turn left, then left again quite soon and the (Ashbourne) road drops you down to Belper North Mill. There is a small heritage centre plus tours where you can inspect the details of how Strutt made the world's first fireproof building.
The next stage involves a bit of uphill. From Belper Mill take Belper Lane which brings you out at the Bull's head Pub at Belper Land End. Turn right and follow that road past the Bear at Alderwasley and on to the junction of roads at the Malt Shovel. Take the road straight on to Bolehill.
Just before it joins the main road at Steeple Grange, turn right, under the low narrow bridge that carries the High Peak Trail at Black Rocks. Black Rocks is a local beauty spot with impressive cliffs. It is popular with locals for climbing, walking and relaxing. After passing Black Rocks, drop down the steep Cromford hill where you will find Richard Arkwright's celebrated Cromford Mill. The Heritage Corridor ends with Masson Mills a few hundred metres up the road at Matlock Bath. Masson Mills is a shopping centre, cafe and museum rolled into one.
There are various ways to return, either go back the way you came or blast back down the A6, the choice is yours
Disclaimer which is probably not really needed as most of us are responsible adults but just to avoid any doubt ... the information on this page is believed to be correct and is given in good faith. It may have changed since our research. Use of the information on this page is at your risk, we cannot accept any liability for any problems or incidents arising. This description is not intended as a comprehensive route description and should not be used as such. We recommend that you buy a map of the area and make sure that you have planned the route before setting off. It is the responsibility of the leader of your party to be familiar with the navigation and to ensure that all members are of a sutable fitness and have the skills to cope with the traffic and terrain.