This long circular walk makes use of two of the waymarked long distance trails running through the countryside surrounding the Derbyshire town of Belper. There's much to enjoy with waterside paths along the River Derwent and the Cromford Canal. There's also woodland trails and some moderate hills climbs with great views over the Peak District and the Amber Valley.
Belper forms part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. The modern factory, or 'mill', system was born here in the 18th century to accommodate the new technology for spinning cotton developed by Richard Arkwright.
This walk starts on Belper Bridge, just to the north of the train station, where there are nice views of the Belper Mills. Here you pick up the Derwent Valley Heritage Way and follow the trail north to Ambergate, passing the pretty Wyver Lane Pool on the way. You then follow the Cromford Canal past Shining Cliff Woods to Crich Carr, where you turn west until you come to the Midshires Way. Follow the trail south through Blackbrook to Farnah Green, where you turn east to head back to the river and the town. You'll pass the delightful Belper Riverside Gardens which have been offering visitors a tranquil setting to view the River Derwent for over 100 years.
To extend your walk you could continue south along the Midshires Way towards Duffield and Derby. In this area you can visit Allestree Park and Kedleston Hall.
A few miles to the west is the splendid Carsington Water where there are some great waterside walking and cycling trails to try.
Around Belper Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
Around Belper Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
Around Belper OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
Around Belper Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
Just outside of the town in the village of Shottle you'll find the excellent Bull Shed. The site includes the Shottle Farm Brewery and a pub located on a 60 acre working farm. The farmhouse here dates back to 1793 with lots of animals to see such as Aberdeen Angus X Shorthorn cows, goats, pigs and a herd of black cats. The associated pub includes several original features with exposed stone walls, a sloping concrete floor with cocks foot prints and massive steel beams holding up the grain floor. It's full of character and has a cosy fire for colder days. They do delicious home cooked food and have an excellent selection of ales from their own brewery. You can find them at a postcode of DE56 2DT for your sat navs. It's located just to the west of the route near Belper Lane End. If you head down Wilderbrook Lane you will soon come to it. The pub is also dog friendly if you have your canine friend with you.
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
Belper is located near to the village of Crich which is well worth a small detour from the route. This pretty village is known as the location for the setting for the ITV series Peak Practice and the excellent Crich Tramway Village. This fascinating museum contains over 60 trams built between 1873 and 1982 and is set within a recreated period village containing a working pub, cafe, old-style sweetshop and tram depots. You could take a detour at the northern end of the route to visit the attraction.
Head north east and you can pay a visit to the Midland Railway Centre. Here you'll find a 35 acre country park with an interesting old heritage railway and nice trails around Codnor Park Reservoir and Butterley Reservoir. You can also pick up the circular Alfreton Walk here which will take you to the woodland of the Oakerthorpe Nature Reserve.
Just to the south of the town you'll find the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in neighbouring Duffield. The heritage railway is a lovely way of viewing the valley on a fine old steam locomotive. The Duffield Walk explores the town, visiting the remains of the 11th century castle, the neighbouring village of Milford and the pretty Eye Meadows nature reserve. The Ecclesbourne Way walking trail follows the route of the railway from Duffield to Wirksworth. The route passes several of the stations on the route and offers fine views of the surrounding countryside as well. It also passes close to Alport Heights which is just north west of the town. There's a car park, a circular trail and an excellent viewpoint to be found at this elevated beauty spot.
For more walking ideas in the area see the Derbyshire Walks page.