An aspirational project to open up the River Derwent to navigation by canoes, kayaks, etc.

The Vision

  • To create an iconic ‘River Derwent Canoe Trail’, from the Derwent Dams to the Trent confluence through the Peak National Park
  • To create trail infrastructure to support usage of the river by canoeists in a responsible and sustainable way
  • To work in partnership with all other stakeholders to protect and enhance the environment
  • To allow canoeists to enjoy all the Derwent Valley has to offer from the water

The Purpose

  • To enable people to enjoy the River Derwent through canoeing
  • To inspire and enable local youngsters to take up paddlesports in the Derbyshire area. Give local youngsters life focus and direction
  • To put the Peak District and Derbyshire on the map as a paddlesport destination
  • To demonstrate that canoeists, Anglers, and all lovers of the environment can work in harmony to share and protect the space
  • Attract more visitors. Increase local business. Promote healthy activity and lifestyle

 Current situation

The River Derwent runs for 55 miles from Ladybower Reservoir in the north to the River Trent at Shardlow, South of Derby. For half its course it runs through the iconic Peak District National Park; a haven for outdoor activity, history and wildlife.

Although the River itself is physically navigable by canoe or kayak from the Derwent dams all the way to Shardlow there is only a 1km section that can be paddled without fear of confrontation or challenge with regards to rights of access.

The stretches through the Peak Park are highly disputed with regards to who has a legal right to enjoy the space. River access law is complicated and therefore there are consequently few recognised and accepted ‘put in’ points for canoeists.

Only a short section between Darley Bridge and Matlock is paddled with any regularity – but even this has not been without dispute in recent years. Canoeists paddling the river are frequently confronted and told they have no right to be on the water.

Further down, canoeists are able to enjoy good access from Darley Abbey right to the confluence with the Trent, which is popular with the local canoe club and a host of outdoor activity providers.

From Cromford, the River is joined by the Canal, on which canoeists have limited access (by permission from Derbyshire County Council and with restriction on numbers). The canal runs alongside the river offering potential for touring ‘loops’.

The Peak Park covers 555 Sq miles and was the first to be designated a ‘National Park’. It is celebrated for its Gritstone Edges, moors and villages; but at its heart is the River Derwent, cutting its way through the Derwent Valley. While climbers, cyclists, walkers, hang gliders, horse riders, cavers and anglers are welcomed and can enjoy much of what the Park has to offer, canoeists and kayakers are not fully able to enjoy this beautiful landscape.

 The Ambition

  • Create a River Derwent Canoe Trail, with multiple sections; providing opportunities for paddlers to journey down the river (and canal). To secure more places in the Peak Park and Derbyshire where people can go canoeing.
  • Publish a River Derwent Canoe Trail guide; to inform and educate paddlers on how best to access the River Derwent for canoeing.
  • Work with landowners to secure safe access points and parking areas for paddlers to access the river to launch and land.
  • Place signage to promote good practice and impart useful information to river users.
  • Encourage canoeists to work proactively alongside other users to minimise impact and preserve and natural environmental; keeping the river free from litter, preventing the spread of invasive species and protecting the biodiversity.
  • Enable more people to enjoy the Peak Park and Derwent Valley through paddlesports. For the Derwent Valley and the Park to further raise its profile for outdoor recreational activity.
  • Contribute positively to the local economy through the development and promotion of the Canoe trail.
  • Work with local businesses to see how the Trail could benefit them and explore potential sponsorship or joint working.
  • Create opportunities for people to camp, enabling multi day trips and the ability to enjoy other aspects that the Park has to offer e.g. Chatsworth, the Heritage Mills, The market towns etc.