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A Local Travel Tip – Cromford Canal

Tom’s Barn Travel Tips…

The Cromford Canal Restored Narrowboat

Birdswood, the Restored ‘Vintage Narrowboat’

A 2-hour trip up and down the canal

Gliding Peacefully down the Cromford Canal


It was the Cam a few dates ago, today it is the Cromford Canal – rather closer to home and certainly a more practical recommendation for our guests and local friends eager to learn of yet more things to do locally.

It is particularly interesting as the canal is part of the Derwent valley Mills World Heritage Site

A group of us from Parwich had the most lovely outing in the sunshine today, one which we really do recommend for a gently happy day out. We booked on a 2-hour trip in the Birdswood, a ‘vintage’ narrowboat lovingly restored, and run, by volunteers from the Friends of Cromford Canal. We were lucky that it was a beautifully warm and sunny day, so every aspect of the outing was relaxed.

The engine is silent, so no throbs or diesel fumes: we just glided along silently amongst the moorhen, ducks and dabchicks. One of their volunteers gave a very interesting commentary about the canal and its history, and also about the wildlife.

There were drinks and snacks on sale but as we planned a nice lunch afterwards i don’t think any of our lot bothered. It was all very peaceful and relaxing, even when we ran aground twice (apparently the canal is quite (too) shallow in one or two places). It is a lovely feeling when something like that is not not one’s own responsibility!

Lunch at the Wharfeside Cafe is to be recommended. You can sit indoors, or outside but under cover or in the sunshine, as we did. The light lunches – sleds, quiches, baked potatoes and paninis all looked very fresh and the portions generous. John and I had soup and hot rolls – lovely! (Standards vary – one day I will write the definitive guide to local soup and a roll lunches!)

There is so much else to do, once you are here. Across the road is the mill. There are shops and tearooms there now, and not much remains of the original mill, but one can go on a fascinating tour to see and hear what it was like.

We have done the tour in the past, so on this occasion after lunch we had a brisk walk along the canal, hoping to see a water vole or perhaps a Kingfisher, but no such luck. The walk was lovely, and although we only did a short stretch. I believe you can walk as far as Derby although these days the canal itself does not.

The Birdswood Skipper Today

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