Proposed Derwent Valley Cycleway

The Derwent Valley Trust established a walking trail from the Ladybower Reservoir down the length of the Derwent Valley to Shardlow, and, with the help of the County Council established The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

The Trust is now trying to create a traffic free cycleway along the valley that will increase the safe accessibility of the valley to families, all kinds of cyclists and the disabled.

Having visited various rivers in Europe on dedicated cycleways and witnessed the immense tourist attraction these have become, it is clear that an traffic free cycle route from Derby to Chatsworth and beyond, that gives access to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and its various attractions, could become a route to rival any in Europe.

Additionally, many commuters in Belper, Duffield and Allestree, who could cycle to work, but are currently put off by the heavy traffic on the A6 and narrow busy side roads, would be able to leave their cars at home and cycle safely to and from work (even in wet weather as spray from passing vehicles would be avoided).

These are some of the benefits:

  • Strategic: It completes a missing link in the National Cycle Network recognised not just by Sustrans but also by the Government in its consideration of developing an HS2 related cycle network across central and northern England – described by their consultant as “The Jewel in the National Cycleway Network”
  • Economic: A study to quantify the benefits of the route commissioned by Derby City Council shows a return on investment of 4.8:1 using nationally recognised methods which is seen as “Very Good”. The economic benefits include facilitating healthy commuting in the Belper to Derby “Travel to work” area, relieving congestion, increasing safety, reducing pollution, and encouraging national and international tourism.
  • Financial: We have gained the support of the current and previous two Cycling Ministers who have consistently said they would fund such a strategically important route, a view also supported by the LEP, D2N2.
    We are witnessing the high levels of funding that the government are investing in cycleways in Nottingham through the LEP. Bidding for funds for the DVC could help Derbyshire redress the balance and gain its share.
  • Commercial: A cycle route through the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site (DVMWHS) linking the attractions creates a world class experience, extending visitor stays and spend as proven by similar routes along key European rivers. Extending access into the DVMWHS, currently limited by the restriction of the A6, will enhance the development of potential attractions such as Belper Mills while reducing motor traffic.
  • Health: the benefits of cycling over car commuting are well documented. Because there are no safe alternative routes for cyclists along the valley, and the high number of residents in Duffield, Milford and Belper that work in Derby at Rolls Royce, Bombardier, Derby Royal Hospital and the University, the modal change to cycling, once a safe route is provided, is likely to be high.
  • Management: With the volunteer hours already invested in this project we are already well advanced in scoping the route and developing a detailed brief for the feasibility, potentially saving many hours of Council officer time.
  • Progress: We have successfully tendered our comprehensive feasibility study, including land ownership, engineering, ecology, future maintenance, stewardship etc for a sum under £100k which Derbyshire County Council officers expressed as exceptional value for money.
  • Sponsorship: Furthermore, we are open to inviting sponsors to assist in the promotion and continuing management of the route upon completion

The route is included within the County Council’s Cycling Strategy, but has yet to be allocated a priority. It is also included in the long term HS2 Strategic Leisure Cycle network, so fits within the government’s network – thereby increasing its chance of funding.

The core section of the route is from Derby to Matlock. This links to the south with routes already in existence to Shardlow (mostly off road or on very quiet by-lanes), to Nottingham (and potentially HS2 at Toton); and to Etwall; and to the north with the White Peak Loop (High Peak Trail from Cromford, and onto the Monsal trail from Matlock via Rowsley).

We already have the support of Chatsworth Estate to explore a route northward through their land from Rowsley via Chatsworth House to Baslow – which we would also like to include to create a safe through route from Derby Station to Chatsworth Hose and the Cavendish Arms at Baslow –  a truly world class experience!

We have identified a potential route in detail, with some alternatives; identified and spoken with many of the current owners and gained the support of community groups, parish, town and district councils along the route, as well as many private companies and landowners. We have also met with government ministers, who have assured us of their whole-hearted support.

We have over 500 hundred individual supporters.

Assembling land along the whole length of this section will not be without its problems however, which is why we want to support the County Council in bidding for money to achieve this. It needs the philosophy of road building to achieve – i.e. identify where the greatest need and benefits are and then identify the means to deliver it

We have prepared a detailed draft interactive plan (, and sought Expressions of Interest from consultancies to undertake a feasibility study of the route. A summary of the benefits arising from the route can be found here.

For more information please contact the Chair of the Derwent Valley Cycleway Group or visit this link to sign up for the newsletter.

Full details of the project can be found at