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Cromford Canal

The Cromford Canal was last used as a working waterway in 1944.

Birdswood narrow boat on Cromford Canal

Barbecues are not permitted at any of our sites.

The construction of the Cromford Canal by William Jessop and Benjamin Outram, partners in the Butterley company, was completed in 1794. It's 14.5 miles long and joined Cromford with the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill. The site has a wealth of industrial heritage and lies in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

What you might see

The canal is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its entire length from Cromford to Ambergate. The 3.3km southern section from Whatstandwell Bridge to Ambergate is a Local Nature Reserve. We manage the canal for both recreation and wildlife.

The canal is home to a very rich and diverse wildlife. It's a haven for water vole, a threatened and declining species, and for grass snakes, little grebes, moorhen and coots. The southern end towards Poyser’s Bridge is excellent for dragonflies.


The canal can be explored from the towpath between Cromford Wharf and Ambergate, a distance of just over 5 miles. The walk from Cromford Wharf to High Peak Junction is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

You can access the nature reserve from the north end at Whatstandwell or at the southern end from Ambergate by a towpath off Chase Road. The old towpath which follows the canal is a public footpath - please note that this path is narrow and uneven in places.

We have a Tramper mobility scooter, available from High Peak Junction. There's a Changing Places toilet for use by the public in the car park at Cromford Wharf. You will need a RADAR key to access the Changing Places toilet.


Limited canoeing is permitted on the Cromford Canal between Cromford Wharf and High Peak Junction. Because of the sensitive nature of the canal, numbers are strictly controlled.

Pre-booking is essential, tel: 01629 533298. Further information is attached to this page.


Birdswood, a restored narrow boat is run on scheduled trips through the year by the Friends of Cromford Canal. It's open to all members of the public.

Come and enjoy a peaceful journey along the canal, from Cromford Wharf to High Peak Junction, introduced by a booming announcement from the FCC President, Brian Blessed.

Birdswood is also available for private hire and for specialist educational trips.

Facilities available

  • Cycle path

  • Easy access for all

  • Footpath

  • Parking

  • Picnic area

  • Toilets

  • Wildlife area

Contact details