Derwent Valley

Walk 36: Derwent Valley Heritage Way

Experience Derbyshire’s long-distance River Derwent route, tracing its natural beauty and heritage from Shardlow to Heatherdene. Discover Chatsworth, Derwent Valley Mills, and historic towns en route.

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  • Distance: 52 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Minimum Duration: 36 hrs
  • Refreshments: PubCafe
  • Route: Download .gpx file
  • Start Grid Ref: SK 46007 30800


The Derwent Valley Heritage Way is a linear walk, so it is recommended to take public transport to the start and end points of the hike.


Derbyshire, UK

Route Map


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Safety First

Please do not rely on this walking guide to solely navigate the hike. Always take a paper map and compass with you and make sure you know how to use them. Hiking is generally safe, but there are always potential risks. Use common sense, plan your route beforehand and make a reasonable judgment at all times.


In this guide, I provide an account of my personal experience navigating and completing the Derwent Valley Heritage Way.

While my journey went smoothly, I strongly recommend consulting official guides and conducting thorough research before embarking on this three-day adventure.

It’s important to note that the official route follows a north-to-south direction, but I chose to hike it in the opposite direction, from south to north.

About the Derwent Valley Heritage Way

The Derwent Valley Heritage Way is a long-distance walking trail that follows the course of the River Derwent. It is located in the county of Derbyshire, primarily within the Peak District National Park. The trail spans approximately 55 miles (88 kilometers) from Ladybower Reservoir in the north to Shardlow in the south.

The Derwent Valley has a rich industrial heritage and played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution during the 18th and 19th centuries. The valley was home to several mills, factories, and canals that were instrumental in the development of industries such as cotton spinning, mining, and engineering.

The heritage way takes walkers through picturesque landscapes, charming villages, and historical sites. Along the route, you can explore remnants of the area’s industrial past, including mill complexes, canal towpaths, and railway viaducts. The trail also passes by notable landmarks such as Chatsworth House, a stately home and estate.

Walking the Derwent Valley Heritage Way allows you to appreciate the natural beauty of the Peak District while immersing yourself in the region’s fascinating industrial history. The trail is well-marked and provides an enjoyable experience for both seasoned hikers and those seeking a leisurely stroll through the countryside.

Download the official Derwent Valley Heritage Way Leaflet (PDF, 3 Mb)


Day One

The journey begins at the estuary of the River Derwent and progresses through Shardlow, Ambaston, and into the heart of Derby City Centre. Moving northward from the city center, the route passes through Darley Abbey, Little Eaton, Makeney, and concludes in the charming town of Belper.

The first day of the hike is the second longest and encompasses a predominantly urban landscape. While there are stretches of roads and tracks to navigate, they are interspersed with picturesque mills and historic villages, adding a touch of beauty to the journey.

Day Two

On day two, the adventure continues from Belper and traces the course of the River Derwent through the captivating villages of Ambergate, Whatstandwell, Cromford, Matlock Bath, and finally Matlock. Each stop along the way offers its own unique charm and sights to behold.

Day Three

  • Start: Matlock
  • End: Hetherdene
  • Distance: 22 miles

Day three presents the longest and most demanding leg of the journey. Starting from Matlock, the route carries on northward, tracing the meandering path of the River Derwent. As you progress, you’ll pass through notable places such as Darley Dale, Rowsley, the scenic Chatsworth Estate, Baslow, Froggatt, Grindleford, Hathersage, Bamford, and ultimately reach the destination of Hetherdene. This day requires endurance and perseverance, but the breathtaking landscapes and captivating landmarks encountered along the way make it a truly rewarding experience.

Day one of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way
Day two of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way
Day three of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way

Questions or comment about this route? Leave them in the comments section below.

Leigh Walker

View posts by Leigh Walker
Hi I'm Leigh, the creator Walk In Derbyshire. I've been walking in the Peak District National Park for over 30 years and have a huge passion for connecting with nature and hiking in the outdoors. I write up the all the walks for Walk In Derbyshire and am also the lead on our group hikes.

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