|Rowsley South Station|
Just before the children went back to school we were anxious to have another couple of days on our family walk before homework and school work takes over our lives again. We got up early on Saturday morning and headed up to Derbyshire to resume our walk down the Derwent Valley. We made our way to Cromford and took the Trans-Pennine bus to Rowsley to resume from where we left off last time.
|Darley Dale Church|
Our route this time took us along the eastern bank of the river initially, the same side that the former Buxton - Matlock railway took although we did not actually follow the trackbed. Most of the initial stages were a path through a thin woodland that hugged the river quite closely. Eventually though we did meet the trackbed at the end of the heritage Peak Rail section. There does look like there will be options to extend the railway beyond its terminus at Rowsley South station. As we arrived here so did the latest train. It was slightly disappointing to note that this was a heritage diesel rather than a steam train, but I have a hunch that it was one that used to come through Worthing on a regular basis. After taking a look at the train yard we pushed on along the path that led down the side of the river once again.
Beyond the railway line encounter the path changed character though as it crossed a flurry of fields rather than being penned in. The valley really opened out now too and the character of the countryside was very much more made-made looking and less wild than the earlier two sections. We soon reached Rowsley church and a very welcome seat in the churchyard where we had our picnic lunch. The church itself has allegedly been here for 900 years although clearly not the present building. Outside the church is a tree worth mentioning as there is a yew that is 1000 years old apparently. Inside the railing that surrounds the tree is a set of stone tablets that commemorate some outstanding actions of World War II - Malta, Dunkirk, River Plate and the Battle of Britain.
The path continued across a couple of fields past a boarding kennel - the barking dogs saw us off for quite some distance! We passed by a cricket match that was well underway. I imagine this would be one of the last remaining fixtures of the season. A little further on and we passed by a rather half hearted looking music festival. It consisted of a few tents and a small stage. The audience seemed very small but the guitarist on stage was doing his best to rouse them with some political rantings in between chords.
Just beyond was the arch of Darley Bridge and we crossed to the other side of the river to continue a course on the western bank. The path continued down a track which passed by some very good looking houses with some well tended gardens. The path crossed fields initially but as we reached a meander loop of the river we took a slightly higher course and got a grandstand view of a group of people that were paddling kayaks and inflatables down the fast flowing river. There were shrieks of laughter from the youngsters as their craft didn't always do quite what they wanted them to do.
A little further on and we passed by a derelict factory although I later learned that this was actually Mill Close Mine, one that formerly produced lead until unprofitable to do so. It looks rather forlorn now but surprisingly still standing despite it having been closed for some time. Our path was very firmly kept out of the complex though with a very large fence between us and the buildings. The dereliction continued some distance on from the buildings and eventually we reached the railway again and passed underneath a very solid looking bridge as the diesel train passed over us.
|Looking Back to Matlock|
The path continued squeezed between railway and river for a while as we headed in towards Matlock and eventually we found ourselves by the old bridge that I can remember crossing lots of times in the car before. The A6 no longer goes that way but I'm not sure that it has done a lot for traffic congestion as Matlock still seems as choked with traffic as I can remember. It is one of the reasons why I used to give it a wide berth. We crossed the bridge and headed into the small shopping area and stopped for some refreshments.
Our path through Matlock was a real pleasure. What had gone before was quite pleasant but largely unexciting. The park that we crossed was delightful and seemed pretty well used. There was a small boating lake; miniature railway and Matlock Football Club that were all helping to attract visitors. At the far end we passed through Old Matlock, which is a delightful little enclave in the town. After flirting with this part of the town we continued along the river underneath Pic Tor and alongside the railway which is now part of the national rail network rather than the heritage railway.
|Matlock Bath Station|
It wasn't long before we passed underneath the railway and started climbing away from the river. The climb was quite a surprise after the largely flat terrain that we have been experiencing thus far. It did feel good gaining some height though and soon the looming presence of Riber Castle opened up. This 19th Century building has variously been a school and wildlife park over the years but is now being turned into apartments. Whoever lives there will have magnificent views that is for sure.
|Bridging the Derwent|
A magnificent view is what opened up for us too as the river now passes through the gorge like section through Matlock Bath. Eventually we reached High Tor and the view from the top was astonishing; back to Matlock behind us and ahead to Matlock Bath. This is not a section for those afraid of heights though - the drop below the cliffs was quite vertiginous. Having drunk in the views we descended down the zig-zag path into Matlock Bath and the cable car to the Heights of Abraham.
|Crossing the Derwent for the Final Time|
There was a little confusion at the bottom of the hill as we were directed along the opposite bank than the map suggested. We weren't complaining though - it was far more attractive especially as it put off the inevitable road walking through Matlock Bath. We walked along a very attractive parkland section and only had to leave this side when the onward path was closed off forcing us across a very graceful looking bridge. We wandered around the equally pretty park on the other side until the inevitable road walk started. Fortunately this wasn't too long and we did pass the magnificent building of Masson Mills, once Richard Arkwright's mill from the industrial revolution but now a shopping village (inevitably!). Just past here and we were reunited with our car.
This section of the walk threatened to be rather dull compared with the two fantastic sections before but was rescued by the fantastic high level section at High Tor and the delightful parks in Matlock and Matlock Bath. These were all superb!