Cromford II – Cromford Canal (Whatstandwell to Cromford)

Way back in February 2019, I decided to take a trip to Cromford in Derbyshire. It was after my visit there that I came up with the idea of visiting all 76 stations in the East Midlands Ranger Area. If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you’ll know that I am almost a third of the way through it.

However, I decided recently to go back to Cromford, and also Whatstandwell. When I was in Whatstandwell at the end of May, I walked along a small part of the Cromford Canal, so I knew it was there. After a bit of research online, I found that I could walk from there all the way up to Cromford, via High Peak Cross. I had planned to wait a while before going back to Cromford, but it was such a lovely and warm September day, whereas it was raining last time I was there, so I decided to go today, Friday 20th September 2019.

The journey, as usual, began at the architectural wonder that is Burton on Trent station. From there, I travelled to Derby, and then changed trains for Whatstandwell. Normally, I would buy paper tickets and pick them up at Burton station before travelling, but this time I decided to buy e-tickets on the East Midlands Railway app. I haven’t used e-tickets before, but it turned out to be really easy to use, and there were no problems with the ticket inspectors on the trains. I did print the tickets at home as well, though. Just in case.

My train arrived at Whatstandwell at around quarter past eleven. I crossed over the footbridge over the tracks which leads straight on to the canal towpath. From there, I walked alongside the algae-ridden canal. I saw a sign saying “Cromford 2¾ Miles” after about ten minutes. Twenty minutes of walking later, I saw another sign saying “Cromford 3 Miles”. Either I was going backwards, or they had moved Cromford a quarter of a mile since I started on the route there. The scenery in Derbyshire is absolutely breathtaking. If you’ve never been, I would urge you to make the time to visit the Peak District.

The path was fairly busy, with cyclists and middle-aged people wearing hats in abundance. After about an hour of walking in the glorious late summer (or is it early autumn?) sunshine, I arrived at High Peak Junction. The site incorporates the former workshops of the Cromford & High Peak Railway, and is now a tourist attraction. There is a shop and café there, and also the High Peak Trail begins here. The High Peak Trail follows a former railway line, closed in 1967, from High Peak Junction up to near Buxton in Derbyshire. I stopped off at High Peak Junction for a short rest and also to take a few pictures before I started on the final leg of the walk towards Cromford. I didn’t want to stick around for too long anyway; a sewage works is also located nearby, and it smells a bit fresh on a hot and sunny day.

In a break with blog tradition, I ended up going in the right direction from High Peak Junction towards Cromford. The railway line ran alongside the towpath for a while until it got near to Matlock Rugby Club’s pitches, where it diverged off towards Cromford station. It wasn’t far until the end of the canal, at Cromford Wharf. Like High Peak Junction, it is now a tourist attraction, with a café on site and picnic tables near to the car park.

When I arrived in Cromford, I found I didn’t have much time to explore, just under an hour. The Cromford Mill is literally across the road from Cromford Wharf, so I went for another look around there. It was a lot busier than it was on the rainy day in February when I was last there. It also looked a lot better in the sunshine than it did in the rain.

After about twenty minutes of looking around the mill, I headed for the village centre. I was thirsty and hungry after my long walk, so I popped in to Arkwright’s Village Store for a “Cornish-style” pasty and a bottle of water. It’s a nice little shop, with friendly staff and a wide range of stock. You can even buy a pair of tights there, should the need arise.

I had a wander up The Scarthin, a road which passes the Mill Pond, and is home to Scarthin Books, an independent book shop and café. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time for me to visit there.

My train back to Derby was due, so I had to make my way to the station. I was alone on the platform, so I took a few pictures while I was there and also ate my pasty.

My train arrived just as I was finishing it off, so that was perfectly timed. The train weaved its way through Derbyshire, back to Derby, from where I caught the next train home to bring a memorable trip to an end. Thanks very much for reading.


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