High Peak Junction in Cromford is part of Derbyshire’s industrial heritage in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site. A real hub for hikers and families, it’s loaded with history, a haven for wildlife and is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
High Peak Junction Workshop and Visitor Centre is situated next to Cromford canal where, water vole and little grebe a tiny diving waterbird, the smallest of its species in Europe, have started to make a comeback and can be seen along the canal regularly. Leawood pump house is just a short distance along the canal and has regular steaming events throughout the year.
Leawood pump house was built in 1849 at Milton Ironworks in Elsecar in South Yorkshire, the main beam weighs a massive 27 ton, 33 foot long, and its purpose was to pump water from the river Derwent into the Cromford canal. This magnificent beam engine is amazing to see, I’m always wide eyed and curious like a child when I visit on a steam day. I think it’s wonderful to see such a powerful beam engine, part of the steam revolution still in full working order more than 150 years since it was built. With each piston stroke it pumps four tons of water into the canal!
The Cromford canal was completed in 1794 by William Jessop & Benjamin Outram and is 14.5 miles in length, joining the Erewash canal at Langley Mill. Unfortunately the canal is no longer in use apart from being a wonderful area for wildlife, it was last used in 1944.
The High Peak rail line ran along the back of the High Peak Junction workshop building where the rail carriages can still be seen sitting on the old tracks and beside them the original water tower that was used to refill the steam engines at this point. Our kids enjoy the chance to walk through the old carriages and step back in time. The shop is well stocked with snacks, maps and steaming hot drinks, ice creams too when visiting in summer. The staff are great and always happy to help with anything, I recommend a tour of the old workshops when they’re open during summer months. We’ve been regular visitors here for a couple of decades and never get tired of this location.
The High Peak Trail goes up hill following the old track of the Cromford and High Peak Railway, built from 1825 – 1830 one of the world’s earliest long distance lines. The trail is well maintained and is worth walking, cycling or even riding on horseback for some gorgeous views of the Derwent Valley.
One of my personal favourite walks in the area is a circular route going over the top to Black Rocks and downhill along the road to the village of Cromford, a lovely little Derbyshire village, a great place to linger a while by the old mill pond or if you have the time, maybe stop for lunch and a drink at one of the cosy pubs. For myself and the family it’s usually onwards to Cromford Canal bringing us back to High Peak Junction visitor Centre again where we like to stop for a hot chocolate. The High Peak trail in full, is 17.5 miles from High Peak Junction near Cromford, all the way to Dowlow near Buxton.
High Peak Junction is a terrific place to walk and relax, so much so that I never tire of visiting with my family. Sometimes we’ll just take a short walk along the canal a while, past the canal wharf shed and up to the old lock house, then returning by the Leawood pump house which is just over the viaduct that carries the Cromford canal across the river Derwent. We’ll then return back to the car park or other times we’ll take a longer circular as I mentioned before. There are many walks here, woodland and meadows nearby too.
Always a pleasure to return to and that is the reason I’ve chosen to share one of my peaceful places here with you.