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Before setting off on the walk, read the Safety information at the foot of this page.


This walk was devised by Friends of the Ecclesbourne Way, a group set up specifically to create this route.  It was a natural progression of an environmental project developed by Environment Agency and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to improve the water environment of the Ecclesbourne Valley and raise awareness of the river and its wildlife.  It originated from an EU directive to clean up Europe's rivers, and the EA chose the Ecclesbourne as part of a pilot scheme.

The project commenced in 2013, and a printed leaflet and this website were completed in late 2015.

From mid‑2016 to mid‑2017 Derbyshire Wildlife Trust undertook a major one year project making enhancements to the route, including interpretation boards, practical repairs along the route, and an enhanced leaflet.  As part of this project, the route was officially launched by the Rt Hon Sir Patrick McLoughlin on 8th July 2017.

Ecclesbourne Cowers Lane
The Ecclesbourne North of Cowers Lane

Outline map

The route

The Ecclesbourne's source is near the historic market town of Wirksworth in Derbyshire, and it flows South and then Southwest to join the River Derwent in Duffield, 5 miles North of Derby.  This walk starts in Duffield, and finishes in Wirksworth, following the full length of the Ecclesbourne upstream, ie Northwest.  There are panoramic views from Hilltop at 650 feet; the highest point of the route is 768 feet.

There is an optional extension (added in 2017) onto Alport Height, at 1,034 feet.

The length of the walk is approximately 11 miles, or 12 miles if including Alport Height.  The route is along footpaths, using existing rights of way, and a few minor roads.  It is NOT entirely alongside the river, only quite a small amount is, depending on where footpaths are.  The walk is as much about the valley, so it intentionally includes hills away from the river, which allow you to see the spread of the valley from above.  The last section from Idridgehay to Wirksworth is the hilliest.  So please don't expect a flat walk!

At the end, return to Duffield by bus or EVR (Ecclesbourne Valley Railway) heritage train.  There are cafés and pubs in Duffield and Wirksworth.

How to walk it

The route can be walked in either direction, but is was planned on the basis of going from Duffield to Wirksworth, ie from South to North; this website and the route instructions assume this direction.

You can do the whole route as a full day walk.  Or you can break it into smaller sections.  Cowers Lane (Shottle) and Idridgehay both have access to buses and EVR trains, so are convenient start/finish points for a section.  Of these, Idridgehay, is a little over halfway, so suitable if you want to break the walk into two sections of similar length; but note that Idridgehay to Wirksworth, although shorter, has more hills.

As a start, you will need to decide which part you are walking, or all of it.  Plan where to park, if going by car, or look at buses and trains if using public transport.  And work out how you will get home, or back to your car, after the walk.  The Travel page gives plenty of information on this.

Take food and drink with you.  There are pubs, after five miles, at Cowers Lane and Turnditch; these are the only possibilites for catering, other than the start and finish.  And ensure appropriate footwear and clothing, and sun protection and rain protection, for any likely weather.

Obtain appropriate maps, see below.

Print the route instructions from the Downloads page, even if you have the printed leaflet - the download from this website is more comprehensive, and more up to date, than the leaflet.  You can also download GPX electronic guides, but it is recommended that you still take printed paper instructions with you.

And then enjoy the walk!

Interpretation panels

There are five interpretation panels along the route, erected by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust in June 2017.  They are located on the platforms at each of the four EVR stations (Duffield, Shottle, Idridgehay and Wirksworth), and one directly on the route at Turnditch Orchard, just before reaching the A517, 5 miles along the route.  They give information about the route, the area and its wildlife.


The route is covered by Ordnance Survey maps:

OS 1:25,000 Explorer OL24 and 259
OS 1:50,000 Landranger 119

The 1:25,000 maps are recommended for this walk.  Routes on the Downloads page include the OS 1:25,000 map; however, it is still recommended that you acquire the full maps in case you need to go off route.


The route is waymarked in both directions, including Alport Height.

Look for the discs or stickers with the EW logo at the top of this page.

Waymarks can only be placed where there is something suitable to attach them to, and where we have permission from the local authority or landowner, so there are thus a few locations without waymarks.  Also some may disappear in time - posts may collapse, or become overgrown and the disc obliterated.

Please remember that they are there to assist, but do not rely solely on waymarks for finding your way.

North of Cowers Lane
The path North of Cowers Lane


The route was created by Friends of the Ecclesbourne Way with assistance from the Amber Valley and Derbyshire Dales groups of the Ramblers, and Derbyshire County Council.  From mid-2016 Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have become significantly involved, (see top of this page and News page for more).

Route devised by: John Morrissey, Gerry White and David Davison.
Editing and website design: Martin Phillips.
Route text: Martin Phillips, from original text by Gerry White and David Davison.
Photography: Martin Phillips, John Hastings Thomson and James Walker.

And with thanks to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway (Wyvernrail plc) for a generous donation, part of which has been used to create this website.


This website is intended to indicate an outline walking route, but not to be a definitive guide in every detail.

Walkers should be equipped with appropriate maps (see above), food and drink, and be adequately clothed for walking and varying weather conditions.  The route includes crossing busy roads and operational railway track, and walking across fields with livestock.  See the Ramblers website for guidance.

Friends of the Ecclesbourne Way, nor Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, nor any other organisation, nor any individual, accept any liability for errors or omissions in this website.

And please note the following points:

(i) You cannot rely solely on waymarking to follow the route (see above).

(ii) The route is not just a flat walk along the river - there are also hills!

(iii) Paths and stiles etc are maintained by local authorities or land owners, not us. There have been significant improvements, but we are describing the route as it exists, not constructing it.

(iv) Four of the five interpretation panels are on the railway station platforms, so you will need to detour slightly off route if you want to see them.