Cromford V: Cromford to Whatstandwell by Canal

After the success of my walk from Whatstandwell to Ambergate back in April, on a warm and sunny spring evening, I fancied another stroll down the Cromford Canal on a sunny and balmy August evening. So, it was a cloudy and cool evening when I caught the train up to Cromford to begin my walk.

I left Burton on Trent at around a quarter to four, and arrived in Cromford just after five o’clock. There was a long wait between trains at Derby, though. The train was not one of the sleek, modern refurbished ones that East Midlands Railway usually run on the Derwent Valley Line, but one of the ancient rickety old ones. It stopped between Derby and Duffield briefly, probably because something fell off it and had to be Sellotaped back on.

I walked from Cromford Station down to the canal wharf. I had to cross the road in Cromford’s rush-hour traffic (I had to wait for THREE cars and a van to pass before crossing). On the way to the wharf, I passed the small former fishing lodge at the end of the bridge over the River Derwent. Last time I was here, it was covered in scaffolding, but whatever was being done to it is now complete.

Fishing lodge next to the River Derwent

I reached the canal wharf and began the first leg of the walk, from Cromford to High Peak Junction.

High Peak Junction was closed and deserted when I arrived. I took the opportunity to have a look around the place while it was empty. Maybe next time I will go there when it is open. It’s open from March to October, and it closes at 5pm daily.

I carried on down the towpath, and thought to myself “I’m sure Leawood Pump House is close by”. I immediately turned to my left, and there it was.

Leawood Pump House

I’ve covered Leawood Pump House in other posts about Cromford and High Peak (links to those are at the bottom of this post). It was built in 1849 to pump water from the adjacent River Derwent to the Cromford Canal when the canal needed topping up, but this could only be done between 8pm on Saturday and 8pm on Sunday. It stopped active service in 1944 when the canal closed, but was restored in 1979 and still runs occasionally.

Just over the aqueduct over the River Derwent is Aqueduct Cottage. Again, I have covered this more in other posts, but it was good to see the restoration is coming along well. It was occupied until the late 1960s, then it became a shelter for walkers in the 1970s, and it became derelict in the 1980s/90s. In the last ten years, it has been restored and is going to reopen as a visitor’s centre at some point.

The canal towpath was quite busy, with people jogging, cycling and walking their dogs, or just taking an evening stroll. I was following the same route I took back in September 2019, although I walked the other way (from Whatstandwell to Cromford) that time.

I carried on down the canal and reached Whatstandwell, with about three quarters of an hour to wait for the train back to Derby. A train did pull up at Whatstandwell, and the guard did ask if I wanted to get on board, but I politely declined. It was heading back up to Matlock, from where it would come back down the line later.

I had planned to explore Whatstandwell for half an hour. Last time I was there, I missed an old chapel which stands on Hindersitch Lane, a very steep hill which eventually leads to the National Tramway Museum at Crich (it’s on my list of places to visit in future). However, after a long canal walk, my old legs couldn’t cope with the hill this time.

A former pub in Whatstandwell, now a tea room with accommodation

I waited patiently for the train to come back down the line to Whatstandwell. I was the only person to board the train, and it took me back to Derby. It was just getting dark when I arrived at Derby just after 8pm, and I didn’t have long to wait for the train back to good old Burton on Trent.

If you are wise enough to follow the blog on Instagram, you can see a couple of live videos I made while on this walk. To see them, go to instagram.com/martyns_blog.

As promised earlier, here are links to the previous blog posts from Cromford:

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