Peak District Walk – Derwent Valley Heritage Way

UPDATE – I walked the Derwent Valley Heritage Way again in 2017 and the full video and description can be found at Peak District Walk – The Derwent Valley Heritage Way

For a long time now I’ve felt the need to walk the length of the River Derwent, simply because it has featured in many of my great childhood memories. I thought that I could call the walk “City to Source”, I’d walk from Derby all the way up to Swaines Greave high in the Peak District. When I finally decided to give it a go I went online and did a little bit of research. I found that there was already a way marked route that did exactly what I wanted to do, the route in question is the Derwent Valley Heritage Way.

Derwent Valley Heritage Way - Map at Heatherdene
Derwent Valley Heritage Way – Map at Heatherdene

The route stretches from Heatherdene on the banks of the Ladybower Reservoir in the Peak District, it goes via Bamford, Hathersage, Froggatt, Baslow, Chatsworth, Rowsley, Matlock, Matlock Bath, Cromford, Belper, Darley Abbey, Derby, Shardlow and ends Derwent Mouth where the River Derwent flows into the River Trent. The route itself is 55 miles long and it passes some spots of great historic interest. It can be takled in one go over a few days or it can be done in multiple sections whenever it takes your fancy.

Derwent Valley Heritage Way - Masson Mill
Derwent Valley Heritage Way – Masson Mill

The section from Matlock Bath to Derby is of particular historic interest as it has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here is a snippet of factual text (borrowed from Wikipedia :-)) to give you more information… “The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site covers an area of 12.3 km2 (4.7 sq mi) and spans a 24 km (15 mi) stretch of the Derwent Valley, in Derbyshire, from Matlock Bath in the north to Derby city centre in the south. Within the site are mill complexes, settlements including workers’ housing, weirs on the River Derwent, and the transport network that supported the mills in the valley. The site consists of the communities of Cromford, Belper, Milford, and Darley Abbey, and includes 838 listed buildings, made up of 16 Grade I, 42 Grade II*, and 780 Grade II. A further nine structures are Scheduled Ancient Monuments. The buildings are a mixture of mills, workers’ housing, and structures associated with the mill communities. The Cromford Canal and Cromford and High Peak Railway, which aided the industrialisation of the area, are also part of the World Heritage Site.”

Derwent Valley Heritage Way - Heatherdene Sign
Derwent Valley Heritage Way – Heatherdene Sign
Derwent Valley Heritage Way - Derwent Mouth Sign
Derwent Valley Heritage Way – Derwent Mouth Sign

The guide to walking the way describes the route from North to South, I chose to begin my walk at Derwent Mouth and walk northward up stream. It was rather an eventful wander which saw me eventually having to switch my iPhone off due to the failure of my Power Monkeys Extreme Battery Charger. I was using my iPhone to track my walk and also to take pictures. I will be back again some day so I can plot out a more precise map of the journey… For now though I will leave you with a selection of images from my walk with a few archive shots thrown in.

If you would like to give the Derwent Valley Heritage Way a go yourself then you can find out more by visiting You can also download my route file from the Peak Routes GPX Archive


5 thoughts on “Peak District Walk – Derwent Valley Heritage Way

  1. I’d love to do this too. I’ve walked bits of it but think it’s be great to do the whole thing. More than that though, I’d love to walk the whole Pennine Way but I don’t think I could afford all the overnight stays at the moment, plus no one else gets as much time off as I do so (working in a school) so it wouldn’t be easy to organise. One day, I’ll do it!

    Great photos, my favourite has to be the hay bales. Did you do it all in one?


    1. Hi Louise, Its not a bad route really. The section through Derby City is rather uninspiring, Anything from the Belper area northwards is nice 🙂 I did it over a few days while wild camping.


      1. Hi I did this route last year as a series of Trips using public transport from Nottingham.. I did it from Heatherdene to the Derwent mouth and then I promptly went onto the Nomad way that circumnavigates Derby ( a small portion of it anyway) but I think from the Derwent mouth to Heatherdene is better, ,more epic as the landscapes get more dramatic. I would thoroughly recommend an ascent of Bamford edge to finish things off to place the start or end in context..


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