Cromford Village Walk

– 3 Miles

Map – 1:25,000 Explorer Series No. OL24 – The White Peak – East Sheet.

Car parks – Market Place. Cromford Wharf

Early Closing Day – Thursday

ABOUT THE WALK – In 1771 Richard Arkwright started a cotton spinning mill here which led to a huge industry in Derbyshire and the Midlands. He developed the factory system, and is today known as “The Father of the Factory System”. On this walk you see at first hand many of his original buildings – mills and workers’ houses – while walking beside a canal and ascending a unique railway line; now a pedestrian way. You pass several inns; can visit Arkwright’s original mill and his other mill, Masson Mill with heritage tour, just off the route.

WALKING INSTRUCTIONS – From the car park walk up to the canal and turn left and follow the tow path to the High Peak Junction, just over a mile away. Cross the bridge and begin ascending the High Peak Trail, passing through a tunnel under the A6 road. Before crossing the canal you can extend the walk a short distance to see the wharf and Pump House. Ascend the trail for a third of a mile, and shortly after passing a small building on your right you reach a path sign on your left – “Cromford”. Leave the trail and follow the path past and walk through the tunnel under the trail and follow a walled path for the next l/2 mile.

Pass Carrwood Farm on your right and enter a housing estate. Just before Castle View Drive on your right, leave the road and follow the distinct stiled path on your left for just over l/4 mile. Keep straight ahead on the road and follow it to your right then left. Turn right down Bedehouse Lane, which becomes a tarmaced path in the middle. At the bottom turn right and descend the main road – “Cromford Hill” – to central Cromford. On the way you pass North Street on your right.

At the bottom of the hill turn left along Water Iane, and 300 yards later turn right along “Scarthin”, on the right is a hairdressers. Turn left at the end to the A6 road. Cross over to the right and descend the road past the original Arkwright Mill to the start of the Cromford Canal and car park.


CROMFORD CANAL – Although opened after his death in 1793, Sir Richard Arkwright had been greatly involved. The canal was 14l/2 miles long and joined the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill and cost ?80,000 to build. The canal enjoyed many years of use until the coming of the railway to Matlock in the 1860’s. By 1900 it was closed to through traffic because of the collapse of the Butterley tunnel. The Cromford Canal Society and Derbyshire County Council have helped to restore this section of the canal.

LEAWOOD PUMP HOUSE – To maintain the water level in the canal, this pump house was built in 1840 to pump water from the River Derwent. Inside is the original Graham and Co. beam engine. When operating it can lift between 5 and 6 tons of water a minute. Nearby is the aqueduct over the River Derwent.

HIGH PEAK JUNCTION – To link the Cromford Canal with the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge, a canal was proposed. But, because of the hilly terrain of the Peak District, it was not practical. Instead a railway with nine inclines was built and operating in 1831. The 33-mile journey took two days, and up each incline the wagons had to be hauled. It was never a viable railway and the last section closed in 1967. Since then a 17-mile section from here to Dowlow near Buxton has been converted to a pedestrian way. The incline you ascend is known as the Cromford Incline and is 580 yards long and a 1 in 9 gradient.You can visit the junction workshops here and refreshments are available.

NORTH STREET – Cromford is now a Conservation area and much of the housing dates from the late 1 8th Century; being built by Sir Richard Arkwright for his workers. These three-storeyed buildings are among the finest examples of Industrial Archaeology to be found in England. Originally the upper floor was one long room, enabling the family to make stockings.

MILL POND – To feed water to Arkwright’s original mill a series of five mill ponds were constructed – this is the last one. From here the water passes through tunnels and a channel before crossing the road in a cast-iron lauder (dated 1821) into the mill.

GREYHOUND HOTEL – Built by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1788. The splendid Georgian front has remained unaltered since then. Close by is the Boat Inn built in 1772.

MASSON MILL – Just along the A6 road and built by Arkwright in 1783. It operated until the 1990’s with more than 200 years of continuous use. The weir is unusual, being convex instead of the normal concave. The mill has now been converted into a shopping complex and an Arkwright Heritage Tour is available around the original building.

WILLERSLEY CASTLE – Sir Richard Arkwright lived in Rock House on the right of the mill but in 1788 began building his castle. Before work could commence a large boulder was removed at a cost of ?3,000. By 1791 the building was almost complete when a fire badly damaged it. Arkwright died the following year and never took up residence.

CROMFORD MILL – Arkwright’s original mill built in 1771 . The mill operated almost continuously, with whole families working a twelve-hour shift. He was renowned for his modern thought and often paid workers when ill. In March 1786 he had 480 people working at the mill, with a total wage bill of ?95.00 per week. The whole site is open to the public, run by the Arkwright Society.

? John Merrill