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Derby Citywalk

Derbyshire's historic country town is often overlooked, but hides some fascinating corners.

Distance 3 miles (4.8km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient Negligible

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Surfaced riverside path and town streets

Landscape Cityscape

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 259 Derby

SK 377345SK 354365

Dog friendliness Can run free in park and along some riverside paths

Parking Alveston Park pay car park

Public toilets Alveston Park

Notes Arriva buses 40, 44 and 45 run regularly between Derby and Alveston Park

1 From the car park go round the right side of the large lake. On reaching the river turn left, following the tarmac riverside path under the railway bridge. On this section of the river you could well see a grey heron or a cormorant standing ever so still, waiting for its fish supper. On your left now is the modern retail development of Pride Park, which was the former site of locomotive and railway engineering works, but now includes the Derby County football stadium.

2 As you approach the city centre, the path goes under Five Arches railway bridge, built by Robert and George Stephenson. Just beyond the bridge you cross Mill Fleam where you may see freshwater crayfish, which look like very small lobsters. They're now quite rare, due to pollution. The riverside path now skirts around Bass's Recreation Ground, on the former site of Holmes Copper Rolling and Slitting Mills. It continues under Holmes road bridge, through the Riverside Gardens, and into Cathedral Park, which was, until 1972, the site of Derby Power Station.

3 The path passes beneath the modern inner ring road bridge before continuing to St Mary's, an 18th-century bridge that replaced a 13th-century one. After coming up to the road above the bridge you'll see the 15th-century Catholic Chapel of St Mary on the Bridge. The walk through city streets now begins. Turn left down Sowter Road, take the first right onto Queen Street, where you turn left to pass the 16th-century timber-framed Dolphin Inn. Just a bit further on you'll see the Cathedral of All Saints

4 Turn right down St Mary's Gate, then right again along Bold Lane. Make a there-and-back detour here along Curzon Street to see Friar Gate, a fine Georgian street, which includes architect Joseph Pickford's house, now a museum. Returning to Bold Lane, head down Sadler Gate where many 16th-century houses are masked by 18th-century façades.

5 After turning right down Iron Gate, go left into the Market Place, through the old Guildhall and the Victorian Market Hall. Go straight on along Exchange Street and left up East Street to the bus station.

In 1724 Daniel Defoe wrote, 'Derby, as I have said, is a town of gentry rather than trade; with a fine town-house and very handsome streets'. But the coming of the railway in 1838 changed all that. By the end of the 19th century Derby was the major railway manufacturing town of England.

A walk into Derby today, by the banks of the River Derwent, gives you some insight into its continuing change. Many of the railway sites have been redeveloped or left to return to nature. The journey begins in Alveston Park, to the east of the city.

In Cathedral Park, look out for the statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie, the work of Anthony Stones, unveiled in 1995. In 1745 the Lloyds Bank building, which lies at the corner of Sadler Gate and Iron Gate, was commandeered by Bonnie Prince Charlie's army after a triumphant march into Derby. Unfortunately for the Young Pretender, local support had deserted him. As the Duke of Devonshire had assembled a huge defensive army, Bonnie Prince Charlie was forced to retreat.

There's also an old steam engine and an Industrial Museum. It occupies the site of Sir Thomas Lombe's silk mill, the first of its kind in England. The original mill was destroyed by fire in 1910 - only the octagonal tower and the foundation arches remain.

The Cathedral of All Saints has a magnificent 212ft (65m) Perpendicular tower. Inside, there's an elaborate wrought iron chancel screen built by Robert Bakewell, and the 17th-century marble tomb of Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury - better known as Bess of Hardwick.

While you're there

The Royal Crown Derby porcelain company celebrated its 250th anniversary in the year 2000. The visitor centre on Osmaston Road shows you the skills of making bone china that have been handed down through the generations of their craftsmen. It's open seven days a week and operates a factory tour each weekday.

Where to eat and drink

You're spoilt for choice in Derby. Eating places range from an outdoor kiosk selling bacon sandwiches to high class French restaurants. For a good choice in one place go to the Old Blacksmith's Yard off Sadlers Gate. Here several restaurants and bars face each other across a courtyard. Restaurants include Mexican and Greek, and a couple where you can just enjoy a coffee or a beer.

What to look for

The present St Mary's Bridge in Derby was built in 1794, though there has been a bridge on this site since 1275. By its side is a bridge chapel, built around 1450 and one of only five that survive in England today. Beneath the chapel you'll see another stone arch. This is part of the previous medieval bridge.

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