The Rowsley end of the Matlock to Rowsley cycle path sits right on the southeast border of the Peak District National Park. Technically being outside the National Park boundary means that it perhaps lacks the remote and rustic vibes of the Monsal Trail or High Peak Trail, but in all honestly, this is the best Peak District cycle route for young kids as not only is it pretty flat, but there are two playground stops, trains to spot, a pub enroute (for thirsty parents), and even a McDonalds. Plus, there are very pretty sections through woodland and along the river, and it’s mostly traffic free!
However, the Matlock to Rowsley cycle path is not one long track. There are sections where you need to cross a road, or cycle a very short stretch of road, to link up the route. But here in this guide, we take you through the route step-by-step, using photos to help, so you know exactly what to expect.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Should you click to purchase, it is at no additional cost to you, but I receive a small commission.
If you are planning a visit to the National Park, please arrive early or late in the day to avoid crowds if visiting over sunny weekends or school holidays. Please also take all litter home with you, don’t bring BBQs and park your car in designated parking areas. Also, please use these route descriptions as a guide; access may change.
Click here to check out more family cycle routes in the Peak District
PARKING INFORMATION: Please do not rely solely on the postcode for parking directions. In the National Park, a postcode can cover a large area. Postcodes are only provided as guidance. Please either use the Google Maps point provided for every walk, or what3words.
Matlock to Rowsley cycle map
The below Ordnance Survey may displays the Matlock to Rowsley cycle route. This is a linear route and Darly Daley petty much sits half way along.
As you can see from the below elevation graph, it’s pretty flat, with only an ascent of 17 metres from Rowsley to Matlock, and an ascent of 42m from Matlock to Rowsley.
How long should you allow?
Whilst it’s a 40 minute cycle each way for adults, bike rides always take longer with young kids. Plus there are so many places to stop off along this route, including:
- Peak Rail (you will see the tourist train chugging alongside the cycle path)
- Church Inn, Darley Dale, a 17th century pub with a beer garden
- Willow Way Play Park
- Large playground at Whitworth Park
You may also want to allow for time in either or both Rowsley and Matlock.
In Matlock there is a play park and an array of eateries. Check out our guide for things to do in Matlock and Matlock Bath.
Rowsley to Matlock route instructions
If you are starting the cycle route in Rowsley, there is a free car park (click here for location). There’s a 2.1 metre barrier. If your vehicle is taller than this there is roadside parking outside of the car park.
START: Rowsley Car Park – DDDC
Click here for Google Map point
Grid reference: SK 2581 6586
Post code: DE4 2EL
1. Follow the path from Rowsley car park through the woods. This leads out onto a road, just past Darley Dale Recycling Centre. Take a left, and pick up the cycle path on the other side of the road.
2. Continue past Rowsley South Train Station, which is where the heritage Peak Rail train departs. 1.3 km further along is the Church Inn pub on your left. Here you will need to cross the road and continue the cycle path straight ahead.
3. 270 metres on from the road junction by the pub is Willow Way Play Park. Then another 400 metres on is Whitworth Park with a much larger playground (make sure you follow the path around to the left).
4. Continue past the playground and follow the path around to the right, with the pond on your right, to the park gate that leads out onto Station Road.
5. Take a right out of Whitworth Park along Station Road. It’s 230 metres along the road to the next turning on the left. There is a footpath on the right-hand side of the road, which you can potentially use if there are no pedestrians around. Take a left down Old Road and pick up the cycle path on the right-hand side, just 30 metres from the junction.
6. Continue along the cycle path for 2.3km. This is a lovely section that, after a couple of little hills, runs alongside the railway track.
7. The cycle track abruptly ends at a pedestrian crossing over the railway track. Take a left over the track, and at the main road take a right along the pavement, which is a designated cycle track.
8. At the roundabout (McDonalds is on the opposite side of the roundabout) continue along the pavement to the right and cross over the bridge. On the other side of the bridge, just on the bend in the road, there is a path on your right. Follow this downhill for 70 metres and take the turning on your sharp right that leads alongside the river.
9. Follow this for 720 metres to the end of the cycle path, which leads you right outside Matlock Station. There is cycle parking at the train station should you wish to lock your bikes up and explore Matlock.
Matlock to Rowsley route instructions
If you are starting the Matlock to Rowsley cycle route in Matlock, you could get the train to Matlock as the cycle route starts directly opposite Matlock station. Otherwise, there is paid parking at the station.
START: Opposite Matlock Station
Click here for Google Map point
Grid reference: SK 2974 6017
Post code: DE4 3NA
1. Pick up the cycle track straight opposite Matlock Station, signposted ‘Derwent Valley Heritage Way (North)’. Follow this for 720 metres to a sharp turning on your left.
2. Follow this path uphill to the road. The cycle path continues along the pavement to the left and then left again at the roundabout. Keep to the pavement, which is a designated cycle track. McDonalds is on the other side of the roundabout (you will need to cross the road from where you exited on the footpath).
3. 650 metres from the roundabout, just past a bus stop, there is a turning on your left. Take this path, carefully cross the railway track, and then take a right along the cycle path. The railway tracks will be on your right-hand side.
4. Follow the cycle path of 2.3km. This is a lovely section, with just one little hill. The cycle path leads out onto a road. Cross over the road and walk your bikes to the junction. Take a right along Station Road. This is 230 metre section along the road. However, there is a footpath on the left-hand side of the road that you can use if there are no pedestrians.
5. Go through the gate that leads into Whitworth Park and follow the path around to the right and head over to the play areas.
6. From Whitworth Park, continue along the footpath that goes between the small concrete skate park and the pond. 400 metres on is Willow Way Play Park on the right.
7. 270 metres on from Willow Way Play Park is a road. Cross over, and pick up the cycle path the other side. Although we very much recommend stopping for a drink and bite to eat at The Church pub.
8. From the pub, continue for 1.8km with the railway track on your left and passing Peak Rail. This leads out onto a road. Take a left and pick up the cycle path on the other side of the road.
9. Follow the cycle path through the woods for 1.2km to Rowsley car park.
Final thoughts on the Matlock to Rowsley cycle path
Even though the Matlock to Rowsley cycle route starts/ends just on the boundary of the Peak District National Park, it really is the best place to take young kids as it’s a very easy route, and there’s so much to keep them engaged along the way. Spotting the Peak Rail train chugging alongside the track will be a highlight and a stop at The Church pub to refuel is a must. Just make sure you allow a full day to enjoy all the stops along the way.
Peak District Kids is a free online resource. If you enjoyed this bike ride, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much! You may also want to share your own photos from our walks in our Peak District Kids Facebook Group.
Or visit the Peak District Kids shop. £1 from every sale of the iron-on patches goes towards the Peak District National Park Foundation, a registered charity established to raise funds to care for The Peak District National Park.
Also, feel free to share your walk photos with us on Instagram. Please follow us and tag @peakdistrictkids in your posts so we can share them with our wider community.