Skip to main content

The charity making life better by water

Langley Mill

Cromford Canal

You can still walk along the remains of the Cromford Canal that once brought narrowboats from the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill to Cromford, with a branch to Pixton.

The Cromford Canal used to run for 14.5 miles from Cromford to Langley Mill where it met the Erewash Canal with a branch to Pinxton. Built by William Jessop with help from Benjamin Outram, it's mostly derelict but still makes for a beautiful Derbyshire canal walk.

Cromford Canal walk

Explore this tranquil space on foot. Parts of its route are still visible, including the first mile or so where it joins the Erewash Canal. There's a second section near Ironville. The third and final section is near lower Hartshay. But Butterley Tunnel, between sections 2 and 3 also still exists. Take a walk and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

Free guides for fun days out

Looking for a perfect place to relax and unwind? Download your free regional guide today

Local to you

Show me places within...

Explore your nearest canals and ways to enjoy them Find walks, activities and more within:


History of Cromford Canal

Opened in 1794, it originally included four tunnels and 14 locks. But in 1889, subsidence closed the 3,063 yards (2,801 meters) Butterley Tunnel. And further subsidence in 1900 closed the Tunnel permanently. Most of the canal was abandoned by 1944 except the last half-mile (800m) stretch to Langley Mill, though it too was abandoned in 1962. The Bullbridge Aqueduct was removed in 1968 when the Ripley Road was widened. In 1985 the Codnor Park Reservoir was lowered by six feet (1.8 m) and a lock was removed as part of a flood prevention scheme.

Butterley Tunnel

At 2.7km long, when it was opened it was the third longest canal tunnel in the world. It included an underground wharf where coal could be loaded directly into the narrow boats via a horizontal tunnel from Butterley Carr Pit. It was the mining that led to the end of the tunnel. Subsidence closed the tunnel to traffic in 1900.

Fisheries and nature reserves

William Jessop also built three reservoirs to feed his new canal. Butterley Reservoir is the largest, the others being the Codnor Park Reservoir and Butterley Park Reservoir, which was dismantled in the 1930s. The remaining reservoirs are still very much in use as local fisheries.

The Ripley and District Angling Club lease the fishing rights for Butterley Reservoir and provide valuable volunteering time for the Trust.

Codnor Park Fisheries lease the fishing rights for Codnor Park Reservoir.

Today, the Cromford Canal and the reservoirs provide a haven for wildlife including some important and rare species. The Ironville section in particular is an important stronghold for the endangered white-clawed crayfish. With water voles increasing in numbers there too.

A further six mile (9.7 km) long section between Cromford and Ambergate is listed as a Biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Friends of Cromford Canal

Supporting the ongoing restoration of the canal are the Friends of Cromford Canal. In 2014, the group adopted two sections of the Canal - the Lower Hartshay section and the stretch from Codnor Park Reservoir through Ironville to Lock 5.

They run regular work parties on the canal and around Codnor Park Reservoir, which include litter management, scrub/vegetation control, fence repair and painting canal features. The group also runs a short boat trip onbaord 'Birdswood', between Cromford Wharf and Leawood Pump House.

Boaters and paddlers

We are responsible for the stretch of the Cromford Canal between Bridge 4 and Bridge 9 at Ironville, as well as the reservoirs at Ironville and Butterley.

The rest of it is owned and managed by Derbyshire County Council, who require boaters (largely paddlers) to book in advance and buy a visitor permit.

For more information visit the Derbyshire County Council web page.

photo of a location on the canals
newsletter logo

Stay connected

Sign up to our monthly newsletter and be the first to hear about campaigns, upcoming events and fundraising inspiration