Cromford - Scarthin Rock
w/e 11 November 2012
All this week's pictures were taken
with a Kodak DX6490
We took a ride out to Cromford near Matlock hoping
to tag onto a guided tour up Scarthin Rock. We hadn't pre-booked
as was recommended as our plans were not definite but as the
weather was fine and nothing else was pressing we set off and
arrived about ten minutes prior to the advertised start time.
Unfortunately when we arrived we found that the times had been
changed and the first tour had just arrived back at the car park
with the next guided ascent was not due for another two hours.
The volunteer guide however pointed us in the right direction,
gave us a few tips on the best way to go and we set off by ourselves.
A short path from the car park leads to the bank of the River
Derwent flowing through the gorge at Matlock, Matlock Bath and
Cromford on its southward journey to Derby and the River Trent.
Looking towards the Matlocks in this view the high ground on
the left is Scarthin Rock and our objective was to reach the
We had no intention however of scaling the sheer
rock face and instead took the flight of steps cut into the hillside
about half way along the path from the car park. This leads to
another steeper staircase (left) which elevates us approximately
two thirds of the way to the top. From there we were advised
to take the right hand of two paths up more steps and slippy
slopes to a welcome bench (right) almost at the summit where
we paused a minute to catch our breath. We're not as fit or as
young as we used to be!
From the bench, one of the first things we noticed was the hazy
view to the southeast of Crich Stand, the Sherwood Foresters'
War Memorial some three miles distant as the crow flies. The
former quarry below the Memorial is now the site of the National
Tramway Museum also know as Crich Tramway Village.
Turning our attention to the north from the highest point of
Scarthin Rock the focal point over the river was obviously Willersley
Castle. Being built for the "Father of the Factory System",
Sir Richard Arkwright it was damaged by fire in 1791 prior to
its completion and Sir Richard died a year later before it had
been repaired. His son, Richard Arkwright junior, eventually
moved in and it became the family home from 1796 until 1922.
The estate was bought by a group of Methodist business men in
1927 and today the Grade II listed building is a Christian Guild
A fence around the summit of Scarthin Rock warns of the proximity
of the sheer drop to the river below as the edge is not obvious
but through a cleft in the cliff face, we spotted a lone angler
who seemed set up for a long session and was probably unaware
of the preying eyes above.
To the west the Derwent could be seen passing under the road
to Matlock Bath with other buildings secluded among the trees.
Just out of shot on this side of Matlock Road and hidden by the
trees on the right is Masson Mills, built as one of Arkwright's
cotton mills in 1783.
To descend from Scarthin Rock we opted for the alternative path
and steps which had the benefit of hand rails. The ground underfoot
was not muddy but just a little damp and slippy so the hand rail
route was indeed the safer option.
This route also provided excellent views of Arkwright's Cromford Mills which have been extensively
restored by the Arkwright Society and are now an integral part
of the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site. At the junction of
the two paths we continued down the hill by the same steps by
which we had ascended and made our way into the mill yard.
Society began the restoration of the mills in 1979 and work
continues to this day. The restored buildings now operate as
shops, restaurants, function rooms and studios. This site map gives more details of the facilities
available for anyone planning a visit.
The second cotton spinning mill on the site of Cromford Mills
was built in 1776/1777 and was powered by a water wheel. Although
the wheel has gone, the pit still draws visitors to see the water
cascading down - myself included. There is much more to be seen
in and around Cromford also often called the "Cradle of
the Industrial Revolution" but that will have to wait for
another visit as our objective this time, Scarthin Rock, had