Middleton Top Visitor Centre

Middleton Top countryside centre is situated on the High Peak Trail at Middleton by Wirksworth. It is at the top of the hill as the name suggests, and has stunning views of the surrounding countryside. It has a visitor centre, gift shop, and a fantastic cycle hire centre. There are also toilets and a picnic area and a decent sized car park. It is a great place to start your visit along the beautiful High Peak Trail and whether you are on foot, horse or by bike, it really is worth a day trip.

It houses the restored Steam Engine House, which was built in 1829 by the Butterley Company to haul wagons up the very steep incline at Middleton. The Middleton Top Engine House is open to the public on certain afternoons throughout the year and the magnificent Leawood Pumphouse on Cromford Canal can be visited from here too. The latter was built in 1849 to pump water from the River Derwent into Cromford Canal and is now well over 150 years old but remains in pristine working condition. It has regular steaming dates throughout the year from Easter until October.

Cromford Canal is fourteen and a half miles long and is a site of special scientific interest for its entire length from Cromford to Ambergate. Its 3 ½ km long southern section from Whatstandwell to Ambergate is a local nature reserve and the canal is a haven for water vole, grass snakes, moorhens and coots as well as little grebes. Dragonflies are also a good spot and the canal can be explored from the towpath between Cromford Wharf and Ambergate for five miles. The walk from Cromford Wharf to High Peak junction is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

The Countryside Centre sells a range of books, gifts, leaflets and maps for the walkers, along with hot and cold drinks, ice creams for the summer months and snacks. There are plenty of places close by to enjoy a scenic picnic, weather permitting, including Red Hill Quarry Nature Reserve located behind Middleton Top. There are lots of wild flowers which grow in abundance in the summer including several species of rare orchid.

There are plenty of footpaths, but no specific bridleway and horse riding trails, as well as a picnic area, a wildlife area and easy access for all abilities of walkers.

The Cycle Hire Centre offers all types of cycles for a family outing, a bicycle ride for two or if you fancy something more challenging, they do hire out a good range of mountain bikes. Cycles are available to suit riders of most ages, including tandems and towing buggies for the children. Cycle helmets are available from the hire centre free of charge but you will need to bring along one form of identification, such as a driving licence. A £20 returnable deposit is required to hire a cycle which can be paid by cash, cheque or credit card but child seat and helmets are loaned free to all hirers. There is a free leaflet, which contains a cycle Trail map showing various cycle routes throughout the county.