Walk the Derwent

St George for England, St Pancras for Scotland
Tables, trams, tapestry

The River Derwent flows into the Trent south-east of Derby. To walk backwards up the river, or rather (a risk assessment suggests) to walk forwards upstream, the walker resident in Derby takes the train to Long Eaton. From here she may easily reach the Trent and Mersey Canal. In the flat lands of the floodplain, the canal is like a copybook letter and the Trent is like the attempt of an infant, equipped with a broad straggling brush and a gallon of blue ink, to trace it. They are difficult to disentangle. So the Derwent actually flows into the canal. The walker follows the towpath. Later, meandering across the fields in the wrong direction (the walker, not the river), she may meet the Derwent, wide and slow and with late swallows swooping across it for flies. But unless she is prepared to swim it, she will have to turn round and go back until the path joins it south of Borrowash.

Trent and Mersey Canal

Trent and Mersey Canal

Derwent Mouth Lock

Derwent Mouth Lock

Meandering

Meandering

PLACENAMES OF DERBYSHIRE
Borrowash is near Erewash. Erewash is not pronounced Earwash. Both Washes clearly belong somewhere in Middle-Earth, on the edges of the Shire.

 

From here into the centre of Derby, National Cycle Route 6 (London to Keswick) follows the river. This is convenient for very many commuters, who speed past. It is a hot day. The walker is slow in comparison to all the cyclists, and moreover she has sloes to carry which she has acquired along the way. Eventually, somewhere near the railway station, she defies the cyclists and sits down for a rest. Thus, in the middle of Derby, she sees a kingfisher.

Common_Kingfisher_Alcedo_atthis

image by Andreas Trepte, www.photo-natur.de


St Alkmund's Well

St Alkmund’s Well

NOT THE DERWENT
St Alkmund was a Northumbrian prince, exiled to live among the Picts and murdered in Mercia in 800. He is the patron saint of Derby and this is his well. My house is half a kilometre to the west and the river is 100 metres to the east.

 

 

Turning left at the well, the walker finds herself in Darley Park, where it is early on Saturday morning and the #parkrun runners are mustering for their 5 kilometres. Industrial archaeology makes itself felt. It began further downstream at the Silk Mill, in the section of river a walker might skip because she sees it every day. If a factory is a building where all the manufacturing processes are under one roof and with one source of power, then the Silk Mill was the world’s first factory; Arkwright’s early mills lie upstream, and the Silk Mill is the beginning of the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site. Handyside Bridge, in Darley, was built for the Great Northern Railway. They tested it by running six steam locomotives on to it and seeing what happened. It was fine. 

Handyside Bridge

Handyside Bridge

Mill chimney

Mill chimney

SERMON NOTES
Will your anchor hold? Is your faith secure? If we put six steam locomotives on top of it, would it buckle?

 

 

The walker crosses the river and dodges the railway and the A38 for a while. A peaceful canoeist passes on the river. Little Eaton produces some telecommunications archaeology, repurposed for Art. The path finds the river again and leaves it to climb up Duffield bank. There are dry stone walls, hedges, oak trees. There are more sloes.

Art Box

Art Box

Oak leaves

Oak leaves

Walled oak

Walled oak

DERVENTIO (DERVENTII)

Derwent: a valley thick with oaks
Dair: an oak; daire, doire: an oak-wood
Dwr: water; dwr g wyn: clear water
Derwent: a river of clear water


All that lacks is a navigation-canal at ten thousand pound a mile, and the perpetual motion.

That would price the Cromford Canal at fifty thousand pounds. Nothing about it suggests perpetual motion. Pausing at High Peak Junction for coffee and antique railway machinery, the walker follows the canal to Cromford and then the road through Matlock Bath, whose railway station is so antique as to appear Tudor. Heroically ascending, the path climbs up the Tor, above the cable car, and comes down into Matlock. Here, feeling that there have not been enough modes of transport in this stretch already, the walker calls it a day and catches the bus to Rowsley.

Coot on the Cromford Canal

Coot on the Cromford Canal

Tudor railway

Tudor railway

Cable car

Cable car

Tea for the weary

Tea for the weary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Ducal parkland

Ducal parkland

Chatsworth

Chatsworth

The Shades of Pemberley

The Shades of Pemberley

Now the walker is reaching the Upper Derwent. It is like the Lower Derwent but with dukes. Top ducal tip: in conditions of poor visibility, where a cyclist would resort to hi-vis clothing, a duke gilds the balustrades.

In the Chatsworth estates, commendably free of access, there are opportunities for all:

Opportunities for All

Opportunities for All

But a walker cannot hang around a gate all day. On, into the hills. On to Yorkshire Bridge.

Green lane

Green lane

Grey green

Grey green

Light in water

Light in water

ADVICE TO CORRESPONDENTS

- I think I may be in Yorkshire. I am certainly at the Yorkshire Bridge Inn.

- ’appen tha’s in Derbyshire.

 


Fifty-five miles from the Trent, the path ends. The Derwent rises in the hills, at Swains Greave on Bleaklow. The first valleys it reaches were dammed in the early twentieth century to form Howden and Derwent reservoirs; Ladybower, the southernmost, was added after the Second World War. Derwent village lies under the Derwent reservoir. The water supplies all of Derbyshire and most of south Yorkshire. The earlier dams were used to practise for the Dambusters raid. There is an information centre and a disinformation nature trail.

Giant dam

Giant dam

Giant dam-builder

Giant dam-builder

 

 

The walker returns to Derby. In the kitchen, she turns on the tap, and the Derwent flows out.

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