Derwent Valley Mills

Jake Gill
Derwent Valley Mills

The Derwent Valley Mills is the birthplace of the modern factory system. The importance of the World Heritage Site is paramount in global history as it led to astounding technological advancements in the manufacturing industry. This 15-mile stretch of the Derwent Valley contains a series of mill complexes and worker settlements, and runs from Masson Mills at the northern entrance of the World Heritage Site, all the way to the southern boundary at the newly-renovated Silk Mill in Derby.

Included within the site is Cromford Mill, the world’s first water-powered cotton spinning mill, designed by Sir Richard Arkwright. Construction on Cromford Mill began in 1771, but the village of Cromford was much more than just a place of employment – it also included cottages for the workers to live in, allotments to grow food on, a school and an inn. Nowadays, the mill houses a visitor centre, independent retail shops, and two excellent cafés, but glimpses of the industrial past are still strewn throughout the village – to get the best views of the site, climb the footsteps up to the top of Scarthin Rock.

As you work your way south through the World Heritage Site, you will come to Belper, home to the North Mill. Here, you can find the Derwent Valley Visitor Centre, where tourists can gain an insight into the local textile traditions. For a calmer backdrop, the beautiful Belper River Gardens offer a peaceful environment to relax by the River Derwent. The market at Belper is also worth visiting – held on the second Saturday of every month, it offers some of the best local produce to try out.

To fully appreciate the sheer magnificence of the natural beauty and industrial heritage within the site, the Derwent Valley Heritage Way walk from Ladybower Reservoir to Shardlow passes through the entire World Heritage Site and provides the best balance to connect with both the history and wildlife of the region.

Derwent Valley MillsDerwent ValleyDE4 3AG View map
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What's on near Derwent Valley Mills

Close up image of peach, pink and lilac flowers with the words 'False Note' in a white block font.
ExhibitionsCity Centre
False Note at Site Gallery

Site Gallery welcomes Freya Dooley’s solo show ‘False Note’, which examines the musical and idiomatic meanings of the term.

free entry

Where to go near Derwent Valley Mills

The Devonshire Arms at Beeley
The Devonshire Arms
at Beeley

Located in a cosy corner of the Chatsworth Estate, The Devonshire Arms at Beeley is an award winning pub, fine dining restaurant, and traditional country inn.

Haddon Hall, Derbyshire
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Tourist Attraction
Haddon Hall

With over 900 years of history, the uniquely preserved Medieval and Tudor house is among the oldest in England.

The George at Alstonefield
The George
at Alstonefield

Occupying a picturesque spot overlooking the village green, The George is a Sawday’s and Michelin approved, award-winning pub and restaurant.

Eyam Hall
Event venue
Eyam Hall

Previously controlled by the National Trust, now back under the management of the Wright family. Old farm buildings adjacent to the Hall are home to artisanal shops and cafes.

Creswell Crags

In an age when woolly mammoths roamed the land and cave hyenas prowled for prey, the limestone gorge of Creswell Crags was home to our prehistoric ancestors.

Event venue
Forge Four Blacksmithing

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Peak District
Hathersage Swimming Pool

Hathersage swimming pool in the Peak District has been a staple of the community for more than 80 years and is one of the few places out in the open air where you can experience both chilled and heated waters.

Bishops’ House, Sheffield
Bishops’ House, Sheffield

Full of original Tudor and Jacobean character, Bishops’ House in Sheffield offers a unique window into domestic life in 16th and 17th century England.

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