which consists of the villages of Crich, Fritchley and Whatstandwell

River Derwent

photo of the River Derwent

The River Derwent forms part of the parish boundary between Leashaw Farm and Chase Farm.


Magna Britannia: volume 5: Derbyshire
Daniel and Samuel Lysons
Published 1817

The Derwent which seems to take its name from a village in the HighPeak, rises on the moors at the northern extremity of the county, near the junction of Cheshire and Yorkshire. Before it reaches Derwent it is called the Wrongesley. For a few miles this stream forms the boundary of Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Before it enters Derbyshire again it receives a small stream, which rises also on the Wolds, called the river Westend: after passing Derwent, it receives the river Ashop, which rises also on the Wolds. Between Brough and Hathersage it receives the river Now, which rising, on the hills above Edale, passes by Hope and Brough, and falls into the Derwent at Malham-bridge in Hathersage. The Derwent then passes through some beautiful valleys, between Learn and Over-Padley, to Grindleford bridge, by Stoke-hall and Froggatt, between Calver and Curbar, to Baslow; thence through Chatsworth-park, near Beeley, to Rowsley; thence through Darley-dale, and near Darley village, to Matlock, where it contributes to the beauties of its romantic scenery; from Matlock, by Cromford, to Hotstandwell-bridge; thence, under Crich common, to Belper, Makeny, and Millford; between Holbrook and Duffield; between Allestrey and Breadsall, by Darley and Little-Chester, to Derby, where is a bridge over it. From Derby it pursues a winding course, passing near Ambaston and Draycote, between Great and Little-Wilne, to its conflux with the Trent, about a mile beyond the former. The whole of the Derwent is said to be about 46 miles. The Derwent was formerly navigable from Wilne-ferry up to Derby; but the navigation was given up when the Derby canals were completed in 1794.

The History of the county of Derby
Drawn up from actual observation
from the best authorities
containing a variety of
The materials collected by the publisher
volume 1
Printed for the publisher

The Derwent is the chief of our native rivers. It rises among the alpine ridges of the Peak, and its main source is at a place called the Trough, where the gritstone rocks form the boundary between Derbyshire and Yorkshire. Numerous minor springs and streamlets, which when surcharged with rain become torrents, unite with this principal or eastern-waterhead, and at a small town called Derwent, the waters constitute a rapid river. These waters are soon afterwards increased with those of the Ashop and the Noe or Now, and having passed to the westward of Hathersage, they are again augmented by the Burbage and the Barbrook from the tracks of the great eastern moor. The bed of this river, from its source until it approaches Matlock, is chiefly gritstone and shale: but from the foot of the High Tor to Cromford bridge, it flows over the alternations of limestone and loadstone strata. The course of the Derwent from Hathersage is nearly south through Chatsworth park to Rowsley, where it receives the Wye, and thence, its course inclining rather more to the east, it flows through Matlock, Cromford, Belper and Derby. From Cromford to some miles below Belper, the bed of the stream is chiefly gritstone rock and grit-shale, and then until within about a mile of Derby, it intersects some wide deposits of quartz-gravel and limestone shale. The remainder of its course until its junction with the Trent near the village of Wilne, is through red marl, sandy quartz-gravel, and patches of limestone rock.

The Derwent, together with its brooks and rivulets, collect within this county the waters of about 271,500 acres, besides tin- drainage of nearly 5000 acres of Yorkshire, at the stream-heads of various of its earliest channels, and the drainage of more than twice that extent of the surface of Nottinghamshire, through a branch of the Amber which has its source in the yellow-lime westward of Sutton in Ashfield.

For diversity of character and picturesque beauty, the Derwent has merited the encomiums of numerous travellers. Mr. Rhodes, in one of his elegant tours, has the following passage:—" In the space of forty miles, which includes the whole course of this river, from the highest and wildest parts of the Peak to the town of Derby, scenery more richly diversified with beauty can hardly any where be found. Generally, its banks are luxuriously wooded; die oak, the elm, the alder and the ash, flourish abundantly along its course; beneath the shade of whose united branches the Derwent is sometimes secluded from the eye of the traveller, and becomes a companion for the ear alone; then suddenly emerging into day, it spreads through a more open valley, or, winding round the base of some huge mountain or rocky precipice, reflects their dark sides as it glides beneath. Sometimes, this ever-varying and ever-pleasing stream, precipitatus its foaming waters over the rugged projections and rocky fragments that interrupt its way; again the ruffled waves subside, and the current steals smoothly and gently through the vale, clear and almost imperceptible in motion.—What an emblem of the busy world does this river present, when contemplated through its various windings, from its source among the heathy hills of Derbyshire to its confluence with the Trent! In the immense multitude that compose the aggregate of mankind, there are many who seek the sequestered shades of a still and retired life—who shun the tumult of society, and seclude themselves, not only from the eye of the traveller, but who pass through life equally unknowing and unknown. Others rush into day, and like the Derwent, pouring through die more open and sunny meadows, court and attract die gaze of all around them, and live only in proportion as they become the object to which public intention is directed. There are likewise those who delight to mix in the agitated scenes of a troubled world, and whose pursuits partake die character of the Derwent, when forcing an impetuous passage over the disparted fragments of rock that obstruct its channel and impede its course." Other travellers have particularly remarked the contrast between the pleasingly pastoral valley of Darley, through which this river flows, through verdant banks and richly cultivated declivities, and the Dale of Matlock, where its course becomes suddenly engulfed in a narrow ravine of romantic rocks.

"Here the High Tor
Rears its vast head, along whose broad bold base
Impatient Derwent foams among the crags,
Roaring impetuous, till his force all lost,
Gentle and still, a deep and silent stream,
He scarcely seems to move : o’er him the boughs
Bend their green foliage, shivering with the wind.
And dip into his surface." Darwin.

It will belong to another part of this work to enumerate the cotton and other mills, which derive their power from the waters of the Derwent. Those waters have a dark hue occasionally approaching even to blackness, which may be attributed to the swarthy moors, and probably to beds of coal, which its channel traverses: their temperature is also observed to be higher than that of other rivers, a circumstance which must be ascribed to the numerous warm springs that mix with its current during its progress.

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