Lover’s Walk

Connected to the Derwent Gardens on the opposite side of the River Derwent, by a bridge which was built in 1969, the Lovers’ Walks are a series of footpath both along the riverside and up and over the spectacular cliffs. Derwent Gardens hosts the district Council’s annual Venetian Nights spectacular every autumn.

Woodland covers everywhere apart from the paths and it is classified, along with High Tor  woodlands, as a site of special scientific interest by English Nature. The woodlands have a much wider recognition though, as they form part of the Peak District Dales Woodlands special area of conservation, containing habitat which is rare or threatened, that are considered to be one of the best UK examples of ‘Tilio Acerion forests of slopes and ravines.’

The original Lovers’ walks were created sometime prior to 1742 and it’s believed to be the oldest surviving example of a public pleasure ground. They are approximately 3/4 of a mile in length and were reached by a ferry boat ride from below Bath Terrace. The spectacular focal point for the Lovers’ Walks was the Cascades, a natural outfall from the thermal spring which flowed into the river. Close to the viewing point near the Cascades, a further path was made which led visitors 200 feet up and along the cliff, walking beside decorative features such as urns and ornaments.

In 1782, Lovers’ Walks were part of the estate purchased by Richard Arkwright, and include the land on which the family home, Willersley Castle was built. The grounds of the castle were landscape but were separated from the walks by a wall placed so that the cascade could be seen from both sides. Visitors who wanted to complete the walk to Cromford were escorted through the gate in the wall by the gardener.

In 1785 the Birdcage Walk, was in existence and extended the walls northwards and added another path to the top of the cliff, with rustic alcoves created at the top and bottom.