Middleton Top and Cromford Walk Overview
Beginning from Middleton Top Engine House, the oldest beam engine of it’s kind on working order, this easy to navigate route follows the path of the old Cromford and High Peak railway. The walk begins by descending the inclines up which locomotives were pulled by winding engines then dropping into Cromford itself.
After visiting Cromford the route climbs up through woods then around Dene Quarry. From the hilltops there are great views all around as you head to Middleton. From Middleton, the route climb again up and over fields back to the engine house and car park.
Distance: 5.78 Miles (9.3km)
Total Ascent: 1028ft / 313m
Time: 2hr 50mins
Middleton Top to Black Rock
The first half of the walk follows the old railway line down from Middleton Top to Cromford. From the car park visitor centre, walk past the engine house with its tall chimney on your right, following the track along the bed of the old Cromford & High Peak Railway.
At the engine house you can see the winding engine in action when the visitor centre is open. This steam engine pulled heavy rail freight from the limestone quarries quarries, and goods from the Cromford Canal, up the steep incline. This line connected the Cromford Canal with the Peak Forest canal, to the west at Whaley Bridge.
After passing the engine house and the visible large pulley, head through the gate to continue down the track of the incline. Cross the bridge over the road then pass beneath a tall bridge as you continue to descend the Middleton Incline section of the track.
As you reach the foot of Middleton Incline you will notice the lower pulley for the cable that pulled the locomotives up the slope to Middleton Top. A little further along, pass a disused small quarry on the right, then pass beside Steeple Grange Light Railway.
Continue along the wide track to reach a cafe below Black Rocks. You can stop for refreshment during opening hours, if you desire.
Black Rocks to Cromford
Passing the cafe, keep heading in the same direction, signposted “Cromford Canal”. After a while, pass another deep small disused quarry on your right at Noor Side.
Beyond Noor Side, the view opens up to your left with views of Cromford and Cromford Mill in the valley below. Farther in the distance you can see Matlock and Matlock Bath. The Heights of Abraham cable cars are visible heading up to the hilltops above the town.
Pass Sheep Pasture Engine House and continue down the next incline. After reaching a chest-height stone wall on your left and more old quarry workings on your right, reach a 3-way signpost. Turn right at the signpost (Signed “Intake Lane to Quassy Bank and Cromford”). Follow the path which leads downhill to the left, under the short tunnel beneath the rail path (Signed “Cromford”).
After passing through the tunnel, at a path fork, keep straight ahead, continuing downhill. Pass Carrwood Farm on your right, after which the track soon becomes a surfaced residential road. Follow this road to the very bottom, where it meets the main A6 into Cromford. Turn left alongside the A6 and follow the main road to the busy traffic light controlled junction.
At the traffic lights, cross over by the crossing and turn left briefly. Turn right at Market Place, heading up Scarthin, past The Boat Inn.
If you travelled by public transport, join the walk at this point.
Follow the narrow lane up past Scarthin Books on your right and the pond on your left. Continue to the very end of the lane, where you reach the main road (A5012) again. Cross the road, turn right, briefly, along the road then head through the forecourt of the garage, passing behind the garage building. At a fence where the path ahead leads into a private garden. turn left to pass behind the garden then keep right and up the steps.
Slinter Wood to Dean Hollow
Turn right at the top of the steps and follow the wooded path which runs roughly parallel to the road, with the stream in-between. After passing a wooden footbridge over a sluice gate on your right, the path climbs briefly, running alongside the stream on your right. The path climbs again after passing beside a cottage, getting steeper as it heads up through Slinter Wood.
After passing through a gate, keep left on the path above the meadow to your right. Reach a gate on the left and pass through it to climb up to a fence post, then turn left, ascending steeply through the woods. At the top of the steep ascent, the path joins with another, close to a stone wall. Bear left, with the wall on your right to walk along the top of the woods briefly until a squeeze stile on the right. Head through the squeeze stile and then continue along the top of the woods, now with the stone wall to your left.
Pass a stone wall that ends behind a wooden electricity pylon. Continue, roughly below the power lines through a gate beside another pylon. Beyond the gate, the path bears slightly right, heading away from the power lines and through meadows. At a junction of paths, turn right, climbing with a stone gatepost to your right and a stone wall to your left. Climb the shaded path between hedgerows, to emerge before a gap in a stone wall. Head through the gap and continue in the same direction, up the meadow to a gate.
Around Dean Hollow to Middleton
Pass through the gate onto a quarry track, cross the track and head through a gap in the stone wall, following the waymarker arrow left through a gate and squeeze stile, following the path which then turns right to head between a fence on your left and stone wall on your right. This path heads up to pass the opencast quarry on your left, with wide views from this hilltop vantage point. Following around the edge of the quarry, the path turns 90 degrees left at a wall corner. Continue following the path , ignoring a footpath which heads off the the right. Eventually, your path drops down a flight of steps and turns to the right. Again, keep following this path, ignoring a gate and path down into the quarry entrance on your left, to bear briefly right to a stile.
Continue uphill, passing mounds to your left and follow the path with a stone wall to your right, heading towards houses ahead. Turn right just before a gate, and follow the wall around to your right to a squeeze stile. Pass through the stile on your left then keep straight ahead between houses and a barn, following this path until you reach a road.
Middleton back to Middleton Top
Turn left down the road through the small housing estate until you reach the main road through Middleton. Turn left along the main road then turn right up “The Alley”. Follow this lane up to a junction and turn right, climbing up the lane until it becomes a track, then continue up the track to a gate. Turn left alongside the Public Footpath beside the gate, still climbing. This path, which can be a little overgrown in the summer season, climbs steeply, finally emerging at a track.
Turn left along the track, still climbing uphill, to a corner with a bench and viewpoint. Follow the track as it turns right, climbing past an old quarry on your right which is now being regrown with a number of trees at the foot of the quarry bowl. The track then levels off and heads towards a gate. Just before the gate, turn left over a stile and follow the track heading roughly south with views over Wirksworth and the surrounding countryside. Stay on this easy-to-follow path which continues in a straight line toward Middleton Top – you will see the chimney of the Engine House as you approach. Rejoin the old railway track close to the car park and the start, to conclude your Middleton Top and Cromford round walk.
If you started this walk from Cromford, turn left to follow the track past the engine house as described at the top of this guide.