A multipurpose, dedicated, route for cyclists, pedestrians, pushchair and wheelchair users is being planned to run as close to the Derwent as possible, avoiding the A6, from Derby town centre to Chatsworth House. Known as the Derwent Valley Cycleway, it is already complete from Derby town centre to Darley Park and from Duffield Church to Eyes Meadow, and will of course pass through Milford. John Hambley, of the organising committee for the project, has kindly written the following article, detailing the project in general and the proposals for the Milford section in particular.
This project was inspired several years ago by Derek Latham and Ian Scott, after cycling alongside the river Danube. There are many beautiful riverside cycleways in Europe, and they realised that we lack similar routes here. Around the same time, cyclists in the Duffield area were thinking that we need a safe cycle route between Belper, Duffield and Derby. The local MP, Pauline Latham, raised the issue of a cycleway in Parliament and met with various interested parties, facilitating the development of a working group. The proposed cycleway will be multi-purpose; so as well as being for cyclists, it will be built to a width and standard suitable to accommodate pedestrians, pushchair and wheelchair users too.
We live in a beautiful and historic part of the world and a cycleway will promote access to it, whilst providing many other benefits, including: –
- Safe cycle commuting especially between Derby, Duffield, Milford, and Belper, and between the towns on the northern part of the route.
- More cycle commuting means fewer cars and less congestion during the particularly polluting rush hours, helping to improve air quality.
- There are many people who would like to cycle for leisure and exercise but are intimidated by the lack of safe cycle routes locally.
- Improved access to the countryside for people with disabilities as well as able bodied people.
- There is a strong business case for the route which will support tourism to our great Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, increasing business opportunities such as hotels, holiday properties, café’s, cycle shops/cycle hire, as well as increasing footfall in existing local businesses. Derby City Council funded a study that showed that each £1 invested in the cycleway would return £4.80 in benefits.
Milford and Makeney are particularly attractive and historically important villages and are well-placed to take advantage of these benefits. The route would also improve connectivity for pedestrians in Milford and Makeney. In some cases, the extra footfall could make the difference between a business being viable or not. This is relevant as the Mill development site has some retail units in the plan.
The Cycleway is supported by Derby CC, Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, Derbyshire County Council, Derby Cycling Group, Highways England, Sustrans, Cycling Club of GB, Amber Valley Borough Council, Transition Belper, Belper Town Council, Duffield Parish Council, Milford and Makeney community group, Breadsall Parish Council, Peak Cycle Links, Peak District National Park Authority, East Midland Trains, Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, and many individuals.
Here is a link to the proposed route. The map can be expanded to see more detail.
So far, the route from Derby centre through Darley Abbey Park is established. We have funding from Highways England to progress from Haslams Lane in Darley Abbey across the turf fields and under the A38 to Ford Lane in Allestree. This is currently going through planning permission. We expect this to be approved and for work to start here soon.
The Trust is also currently applying to Highways England for a grant to fund the next section from Ford Lane to Duffield Church
Duffield Church to Eyes Meadows is established via Donald Hawley Way. One option from here is to cross the river near the pipe bridge then use the existing byway (Save Penny Lane) to arrive in Makeney. Ideally, we would want to find an off-road route to arrive at Milford bridge on the A6. Technically this is feasible using either bank of the Derwent but is dependent on access from the local landowners. From the Milford A6 bridge northwards is a particular challenge to the route, see below for further details.
Further north, the mile or so along the river south of the North Mill in Belper is complete, and Wyver Lane just north of that is useable, but needs resurfacing. Fundraising is progressing well for this, but more is needed. Here is a link to the campaign.
Some other sections are relatively straightforward and have an existing right of way or permissive access such as around Ambergate wireworks/ Shining Cliff Woods, and Cromford canal.
The northern part of the route links Matlock to Cromford and will complete the White Peak Loop, connecting Buxton, Bakewell, Matlock, and Cromford. Parts of this section are well developed regarding the route with support from landowners and local councils.
Milford Section Challenges
North of the A6 bridge, the Derwent valley is particularly narrow giving no easy solutions to a cycleway here. However, with creativity and local support there are some options.
The previous owners of the Mill site (Clowes) were happy for the cycleway to run through their development. As regular readers of the Milford and Makeney website will know (see here for details), this was recently sold to Chevin Homes and we are pleased to report that they have kindly agreed to the cycleway passing through their development. Looking at the map, it looks possible to cross the mill leat at the sluice and it appears that there is room for a cycleway along this west bank. Having walked the area and met with some of the nearby residents this would be more difficult than imagined for a variety of reasons, including a smaller width of land being available than was thought. This could be overcome by cantilevering part of the cycleway over the river, which might not be acceptable to the Environment Agency (flooding issues) and would meet with significant objections from adjacent residents. Another option would involve building a bridge by the weir at the northern end of the mill site, crossing to the bottom of the Hopping Mill Meadow housing development, following the existing pathway which has plenty of room to be widened, then crossing the river to the west bank via another bridge at the top of the Hopping Mill Meadow housing development. The lower of those bridges would provide a fantastic view of the beautiful and historic weir and would improve pedestrian access to different parts of Milford, reducing the need to walk by the A6.
Unfortunately, the A6 is too busy and narrow to allow for the creation of a family friendly route alongside it.
Links to Derwent Valley Trust
I have been a keen cyclist for many years. Having recently retired, Derek realised that I would have more time on my hands and suggested I could use some of that by volunteering to help with the Derwent Valley Cycleway. I am excited by the project and think it will be a great asset to our area. I hope that you will be enthused and inspired by the project too.
I intend to consult with all the potentially affected residents either via zoom, or more hopefully at a real event later this spring if the lockdown restrictions are eased. Meanwhile I would be interested in hearing the views of any Milford and Makeney residents regarding the Derwent Valley Cycleway. I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.