Lea Bridge - Wood & Canal
w/e 13 May 2018
All of this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

Lovely weather over the early Spring Bank Holiday at the beginning of May drew lots of visitors to the popular tourist spots in Derbyshire and even on the Tuesday after Bank Holiday Monday Cromford, especially around the mills, was heaving with people and parking was at a premium.

Lea Road

Less than two miles away however we found a parking spot right outside Smedley's Mill Shop at Lea Bridge and, after crossing the bridge over the Lea Brook, walked for about a quarter of a mile along Lea Road towards Cromford passing Lea Wood Cottage and Lea Wood House (seen here in the distance) to a bend in the road.
Railway Bridge

At the bend we turned left to follow a footpath that took us first over the River Derwent and shortly after that over a railway bridge to the Cromford Canal.

Canal, Plaque, Information Centre, High peak Trail

At the side of the canal is a blue plaque that says the canal was opened in 1794, was engineered by William Jessop and Benjamin Outram and ran 14.5 miles from Cromford to Langley Mill. On the other side of the canal, old buildings now house an Information Centre behind which the High Peak Trail leading up to Black Rocks and Middleton Top.
Picnic Area

This area is called High Peak Junction where, as well as the Information Centre, there are public conveniences picnic tables and an interpretation board detailing the area's industrial heritage. Back in 2009 we walked between Cromford and Lea Wood (link) and the next part of this walk follows some of the same route.
Wharf Shed

Both the 2009 walk and this one took us towards and beyond the Wharf Shed where coal was transferred between canal boats and railway wagons.
Leawood Pumphouse

A little further on is Leawood Pumphouse of 1849. This Grade II* listed building with its 29m chimney contains a Boulton and Watt single action steam powered beam engine from the same date that was used to raise water from the River Derwent into the canal. The engine was made at the Milton Ironworks by Graham & Co.
Wigwell Aqueduct

Adjacent to the pumphouse is the Wigwell Aqueduct that carries the Cromford Canal over the Derwent which is about 9m below. The aqueduct was built in the early 1790s under the supervision of engineer William Jessop but by the end of 1793 cracks had appeared in the structure for which Jessop accepted responsibility and agreed to remedy at his own expense.
River Derwent

Seen from the aqueduct this is a view of the River Derwent as it flows to the south.
Derelict Cottage

At the southern end of the aqueduct is the Leawood arm of the canal. This was built in 1802 to facilitate movement of goods to and from the leadworks and mills at Lea Bridge but by 1910 ownership had transferred to the Midland Railway and its closure followed. A cottage at the junction of the canal and the Leawood arm probably for the lock keeper also dates from about 1802 and is Grade II listed even in its derelict state. Although standing derelict for several years the roof didn't fall in until 1997.

Aqueduct, Railway Line, Tunnel, Derwent Valley

After crossing the aqueduct we turned to follow the route of Leawood arm and another bridge took us back over the railway line again from where we could see the entrance to the Leawood Tunnel and then on the opposite side were views across the valley to the river.
Lea Wood

The route back to Lea Bridge is through Lea Wood and follows the towpath of the disused arm but on the other side of the former canal the wood was full of bluebells for much of the way.
Wharf Cottage

The Leawood arm ended at a wharf but we continued beyond Wharf Cottage and the end of the disused canal along the footpath back to Lea Bridge passing through the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's Nature Reserve in Lea Wood.

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