The year 2021 on this blog was meant to finish on 29th November with a trip to Melton Mowbray, but a heavy dusting of snow in the Midlands put a premature end to this year’s blog adventures. Luckily I had something else up my sleeve, my now-annual trip to Cromford which I took at the beginning of November, on Thursday the 4th.
Regular blog readers will recall that I had been to Cromford three times previously, in February 2019, September 2019 and September 2020. This time, I wanted to explore more of the area and not revisit places I had already been to, so I didn’t really hang around Cromford village centre very much.
The trip began at Burton on Trent, from where I caught the train to Derby. I had around a forty minute wait at Derby for the service towards Matlock which calls at Cromford. The train was already there on the platform; it was one of East Midlands Railway’s “new” trains, but they were not letting anyone board it until the driver showed up.
It was a cold but sunny autumn day in Derbyshire, and the scenery was at its stunning best on the Derwent Valley Line, with azure blue skies and orange and green trees everywhere. I arrived at Cromford station and disembarked. I walked down the road towards St. Mary’s Church. There is a trail which runs next to the River Derwent, behind Cromford Mills, which has a small trail of wooden sculptures.
At the end of the trail, which was busy with walkers and fellow tourists, there is a big imposing cliff towering over the pathway.
After exiting the trail, I made my way back down the main A6 road to cross over the road and into the village itself. I didn’t stop to look around, though, as I was headed uphill to Black Rocks, a popular rock climbing area to the south of Cromford. There is a picnic area and a café (which was closed).
Unfortunately, I had left all my climbing gear in the shop, so I was unable to join in the climbing fun. I took a much easier walk up a steep hill to see the views from the top.
The High Peak Trail runs alongside Black Rocks, and so I joined it and headed down the hill towards High Peak Junction. Last year I walked up the hill, and when I had regained my breath, I made a mental note to do it the other way around next time. It turned out to be a lot easier. Near the bottom of the hill, a man on a bike heading uphill jokingly asked me if it was far [to the top]. I told him it was just a little bit far.
The High Peak Trail is a former industrial railway which carried goods from Whaley Bridge to Cromford. The hilly terrain of the Peak District meant that rope-worked inclines were needed to carry wagons up and down hill, and this one was called Sheep Pasture incline. It closed in the 1960s and became part of the High Peak Trail. The bottom end of the incline has a catch pit built to catch runaway wagons. This was installed after an incident where a wagon came loose and ran down the incline, leapt over the canal and road and ended up in a nearby field. There is still a wrecked wagon inside which has been untouched since the 1950s.
The visitor centre was closed for the winter season, so I wasn’t able to visit it this time. That gives me an excuse to go back next year. I hung around the area for a short while, until the smell from the nearby sewage works became too much to bear. I headed east on the canal towpath towards Leawood Pump House.
The Leawood Pump House was built in 1849 to supply water from the River Derwent to the Cromford Canal. Its engine was capable of transferring 39,000 tons of water in 24 hours, and was run from 1849 until 1944. There were restrictions on when the pump could be run; it was only allowed between 8pm on Saturday nights and 8pm on Sundays. It was restored during the 1980s and the engine still works and is still run on rare occasions. The chimney stands 45 feet high.
The last time I saw Aqueduct Cottage in 2019, a few hundred yards down the canal from the pump house, it was in a bad state of disrepair, covered in foliage and had no roof. Two years on, a lot of hard work has gone into restoring the building, with a new roof being built to closely match the original.
There is still a lot of work to be done on the cottage, but it is planned to be turned into a visitors centre. More information can be found at their website.
As much as I would have liked to have spent all day in Cromford, it was time to head back down the canal to Cromford Wharf. Along the way, I caught sight of the bonfire at Matlock Rugby Club which was to be set alight the following evening to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night.
I took the short walk back up the road to Cromford railway station, stopping for a photo of Willersley Castle on the way.
At the station, I was invited by the conductor on the train to get on board the train heading up the line to Matlock, because it was coming back down the line anyway and it would save me from waiting in the cold for fifteen minutes.
I headed up to Matlock on the train, then came back down all the way to Derby, from where I caught the train back home to good old Burton on Trent.
That’s it for travels in 2021 this year, but the blog continues with the annual four part Review of the Year, which will be coming out every Friday from the 3rd to the 24th of December.
All being well, I will return in 2022 with more travels. I already have a lot planned for next year, and you can keep up with all that is happening by following the blog on social media. All the links you require are here. Thanks very much for reading.