Cromford Mills with waterfall

Visiting the Mills of the Derwent Valley

8, Sep 2020 | Derbyshire, Peak District, Walks

The Birthplace of our industrial revolution

When you visit Derbyshire and the Derwent Valley you are also visiting the birthplace of our industrial revolution and its factory system. The mills you will discover housed ground-breaking technology for manufacturing cotton for mass production- a first in the world. This is why today Derwent Valley Mills is recognised and was listed in 2001 as a World Heritage site. The World Heritage Site follows the A6 road South from Cromford in the North to the silk mill in Derby.

Visiting Cromford

From Glendon you can easily access the Mills by car, bus or train. Cromford is a great place to start your discovery. Cromford Mills is a large site with a visitors’ centre and canal walk.

Cromford village is also a great place to explore. The village was home to Arkwright’s factory workers making it the first place to provide industrial housing for those who worked in the mill and their families.

Things to do in Cromford village

It has a wonderful independent bookshop, Scarthin books. A great chocolate, Taylor Wilde, and  art gallery. The village also has three public houses.

If you are visiting Cromford you can also take the Birdswood canal boat from the wharf at Cromford to high Peak junction with its early railway workshop and the nearby Leawood Pump house, which runs on set days throughout the year.

Leawood pump house

The canal boat trips are planned to recommence in September, subject to final confirmation. Boat trips will be available for groups of 2 or 4 people. Advance booking is a requirement. Details of the date and time of sailing will be listed on the Birdswood canal boat website.

From Cromford heading south your next mill to visit is Struts Mill, one of the world’s first fireproof buildings. Cast iron was used in the mill’s construction instead of timber. This was seen as a major step forward in construction and has led to many of the building we now see in the world, from your own house to the world’s tallest buildings, using similar building techniques.

Struts Mil is situated next to an impressive horseshoe weir and pretty riverside garden. The mill houses a visitor centre and museum. Belper has many interesting independent shops and cafes.

Poppies from Derby Mill

Derby’s Silk Mill

Derby’s Silk Mill is the last mill to visit on your journey along this Heritage tour. Built as the first successful silk mill in Britain by John Lombe. Lombe had visited Italy and seen the success of their milling and weaving system. Returning to England he developed a successful business opportunity with his half-brother Thomas and a group of Italians. They built their mill between 1717 and 1721 on an island in the middle of the Derwent river in Derby. This probably was one of the first cases of industrial espionage and is said to have led to Lombe’s mysterious early death.

As we move into Autumn many of the sites that make up the Derwent Valley Mills heritage site and welcoming visitors. And as the bustle of the summer is behind us it is a great time for a visit. And fingers crossed the days ahead will provide some bright and warm early Autumn days.

To find out the latest information for visiting, including opening times and any booking requirements for the Mills visit the Derwent Valley Mills website.

If you are planning a visit it would be lovely to welcome you to stay at Glendon Bed and Breakfast, in Matlock. We have availability throughout September and October. If you are thinking of planning a stay you can find out our latest availability and book online here. And if you have any questions – please do give us a call. We are always happy to help.

The Boat Inn and Cromford


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