Derbyshire walk - Duffield

Twilight on the Derwent

Twilight on the Derwent - Credit: Archant

With lots of pavement pottering on this route, enjoy viewing Duffield’s architectural mixture of eclectic properties


1. Follow the pavement along Makeney Road.

Until the end of the 18th century Milford was composed of no more than a few houses near the point where a Roman road heading south forded the river and continued to the former Roman garrison of Derventio, in what is now Derby, where it connected with Rykneld Street.

Look over the wall to see fantastic weir structures in the River Derwent. For hundreds of years the River Derwent has powered mills here, the earliest being corn or fulling mills. This is Derbyshire’s longest and deepest river and the life force of the county. Harnessed for its energy, the Derwent powered a succession of mills in a corridor flowing through the Peak of which a 15-mile stretch has been deemed by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site.

Ventilation shaft for Milford tunnel

Ventilation shaft for Milford tunnel - Credit: Archant

After passing Forge Steps on the right, which is a terrace of brick-built houses, you will come to the drive leading to Makeney Hall. See the blue plaque advising that this was the home of George Herbert Strutt between 1876 and 1916. The Strutt name is synonymous with Belper a few miles to the north.

It was the mills of Jedediah Strutt that brought prosperity to the town which before then had been a simple hamlet. Jedediah was originally from South Normanton and was a member of a farming family. His first job was that of a wheelwright, but when working with his brother-in-law William Woollat, who was in the hosiery trade, they invented the Derby rib machine and his fortune changed. From the late 18th century cotton spinning mills were established in Belper by Jedediah and his sons. They grew to include bleaching works, dyeing mills, foundries, joiner’s workshops and gas works, resulting in the important role the town played in the Industrial Revolution.

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2. Cross over the road just beyond the historic row of cottages known as Makeney Yard, believed to be a 15th century former farmhouse, so that you can continue on the roadside pavement. Cross over the bottom of Red Lane and proceed down Duffield Bank. In the 18th century this formed part of the new Chesterfield turnpike road. From this elevated position you will have extensive views over the riverside meadows towards Duffield and beyond.

Property on Town Street

Property on Town Street - Credit: Archant

3. Duffield Bridge was widened and has the inscription May 1812 on its downstream parapet. Go over the bridge and then turn left to follow a riverside footpath as far as an ornate metal bench with fish decoration, then cross a field to the war memorial and church. Dating from the 12th century, St Alkmund’s is one of only six churches in the country to be dedicated to the 8th century Northumbrian prince and Mercian martyr.

4. Go over the railway footbridge and then follow Church Walk to re-join Makeney Road, then head towards the A6 where Duffield Baptist Church and graveyard is situated on a little triangular island.

Sign for Duffield Bank

Sign for Duffield Bank - Credit: Archant

5. Cross over the main road and turn right to walk past the front of Duffield Hall which dates in part from the 1620s, although it has been much extended and altered over the centuries. The hall has seen many influential private owners in its time before being converted into office space in 1977 when it became the headquarters of the Derbyshire Building Society. However, in 2013 planning permission was granted for a change of use back to a single dwelling.

Duffield’s Town Street is lined by a diverse variety of characterful properties, including old stone cottages, Victorian villas, terraces of former millworker’s houses and distinguished Georgian residences intermingled with mock Tudor, new builds and a mix of shops.

St Alkmund's Church

St Alkmund's Church - Credit: Archant

6. Amble along beside the A6 and continue on Milford Road, then pass Duffield railway station on the right.

7. Just past Castle Hill on the left, notice a National Trust sign and steps leading up to the site upon which Duffield Castle once stood. It is now reduced to just a few earthworks and foundation stones. When constructed as a Norman fortress around 1071 for Henry de Ferrers, the castle was one of the finest buildings of its time. Its walls were said to be 15ft thick, and at almost 100ft square, it was one of England’s largest castle keeps. In 1266 the de Ferrers fortunes came to an end when they were on the wrong side of a rebellion against Henry III and the castle was demolished as punishment.

National Trust sign for Duffield Castle

National Trust sign for Duffield Castle - Credit: Archant

8. At the corner of Avenue Road head down a footpath following the sign for Chevin and then walk along the road beside the golf house and car park and continue to a gateway at the end of a wall on your right. The name Chevin is thought to have Celtic origins indicating an old way up to a ridge or high ground.

9. Go over a stile on your left and follow the public footpath through the golf course and then up the hill to Chevin End, taking heed of warning signs along the way. Head uphill following footpath signs and ignoring buggy tracks either side which are for golf users only. Your route crosses stone wall stiles and at one point heads quite steeply uphill through a band of woodland before eventually arriving on a fabulous walled track.

Duffield Bridge

Duffield Bridge - Credit: Archant

10. Turn right and walk along the track which is flanked by oak trees. You will pass Stephenson’s Tower on private land to your left which was built by the North Midland Railway Company, while to your right is a ventilation shaft for the 855-yard-long Milford railway tunnel below.

11. Descend Sunny Hill from where you will have views down toward the tall mill chimney and former works. Most of the old stone properties lining your route date from after 1792. They were constructed to house mill workers and their families, although one back-to-back block known as The Barracks is thought to have been occupied by single men working in the mills.

Forge Steps with their distinctive brick-built cottages

Forge Steps with their distinctive brick-built cottages - Credit: Archant

12. Arriving at the junction with Chevin Road, head down Chevin Alley opposite and notice the slanting roofline of the cottages. Use the pedestrian crossing over the A6 and then walk across Milford Bridge to end your walk. See to the right of the King William public house is Ebenezer Chapel which was reputedly converted in 1859 from the Durham Ox beer house.


Distance: 5 miles

Parking: Free roadside parking on Makeney Road off the A6 DE56 0RR. Grid Ref: 350450

Terrain: Five stiles. Long stretches of narrow roadside pavement. Tracks and footpaths with uneven terrain and tree root trip hazards. Close proximity to deep water. Be sure and adhere to warning signs when walking over the golf course.

Refreshments: Bridge Inn and Godfrey’s Café, Duffield

Toilets: No public toilets on the route

Map: OS Explorer 259 – Derby

Walk highlight: Wealth of architecture and industrial heritage

Description: This is a lovely winter walk along mainly sound surfaces, passing a rich assortment of residential properties, with the route incorporating a gradual ascent to Chevin End for the reward of far-reaching views.