• Scott Cobb

Walking Cromford Canal

Cromford Canal in summer foliage - Lovely!

Cromford canal, a relatively short but beautiful walk, was my destination on Thursday.

The bus was late, and getting there seemed to take a lot longer than usual but finally I got off at Masson Mills and began my walk.

I passed through the restored gates, past the limestone base of Scarthin rock, several wooden sculptures (they were new to me) and finally within sight of St. Marys church. But before that I thought (In a moment of brilliance!) I would walk up Scarthin rock!

With steps clearing designed with nine foot giants in mind, I grunted my way up the short path before reaching the classic view of Willersley Castle once the home and estate of the Arkwrights. With the sun shining bright, I had a perfect view of this stately home. A quick pic and then I headed back down the giants steps, my knees were not amused.

Been about 12-15 years since I've walked up Scarthin rock and now I remember why!

Once the home of the Arkwright family, then a Hospital during the world war II. Not sure if the view was worth going up the giant steps!
Willersley Castle - Not sure if the view was worth going up the giant steps!

Once down to the main path once more, I visited the church and Arkwright graves. These graves are quite worn now and most of the text is unreadable, a shame really.

After that it was time to walk the canal proper!

As the sun continued to rise and with it higher temperatures, I realized my images would not be anything too special so decided to focus on simply enjoying the walk. Passing old mill buildings at the start, plus some angry Canada Geese who I guess were not morning birds, I followed the murky waters of the canal past an old Stegosaurus statue and reached the high peak junction in good time.

Closed when I was passing, the junction has an old railway display in what would have been an engine shed plus a small shop which sells drinks and ice creams. On my return to the bus stop, the sheds were open but by then the crowds had begun to gather and I decided to just walk on.

A little ways after the Junction you come across Lea Wood Pump House, they still run tours here now and then and much of the exterior has been restored. Combine the restored brickwork and intact chimney, It's an impressive sight and worthy of a photo no matter the weather.

Onwards from that and I passed the old cottage. Now when I was a kid coming up from Norfolk (thirty odd years ago) the cottage was actually in good shape, but sadly it fell into disrepair and for the past ten years or so had been a ruin, a shell without a roof or door. So you can imagine my surprise and delight to see it being restored! It has it's roof back and looks pretty good from the exterior, the wildlife trust have even started to work on a layered wildlife garden.

After the cottage, Cromford Canal changes to a more wild environment. More reeds and plants, less people and more wildlife.

It is this section, from the cottage to whatstandwell, that I encounter Water voles, Kestrels and newts plus a brief sighting of a Grass snake. Only saw some Damsel flies and bees this time though, and the day was growing hotter and hotter. Add this to my hay fever and I was fast running out of steam! In the end I got through the first tunnel and decided to head back.

From a photo stand point it was quite disappointing, but I loved the walk and was happy to just be out somewhere a little different and in the end that is what's important.

lea wood pump house on the cromford canal
Lea Wood Pump House - Amazing building!

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Scott Cobb