‘Birth of a Canoe Club in the Derbyshire Dales’
Matlock Canoe Club is one of the premier canoe clubs in the East
Midlands region, formed in October 1984 as part of the British Canoe
Union, by several local canoeing enthusiasts, using a small stretch of
the River in Matlock Bath in Derbyshire.
Canoeing has been a part of the Derbyshire Matlock Gorge since
early 1970s. In late 1976 the River Authority carried out major flood
prevention works through the Matlock valley and removed the weir
upstream of the colour works (above the slalom site).
The area became more popular and an East Midlands Regional
Whitewater training site was built. In 1981 it was thought that a club
would benefit from the use of a permanent canoeing site and help
maintain and run the site. In the following years agreement was
reached for access, egress and unlimited usage. In October 1984,
Matlock Canoe Club was formed.
The present Matlock Slalom site was used in 1985 for the first
National ranked slalom. Matlock Canoe Club has always been a
pioneering club for slalom. Over the years the club has produced
many national champions, as well as many successes at
international and GB Team level. It continues to provide slalom
kayakers and canoeists with a national ranked event in March /April
each year. The Club has participated in the National Inter-Clubs
Championships for many years, and has always finished in a
respectable position compared to the larger clubs.
The site is now also used by a variety of disciplines from recreational
paddling, river racing, open Canadians, play boating, and is
becoming increasingly popular for stand-up paddle boards (SUPs).
Over the years the club has tried many times to acquire land beside
the river to build a clubhouse. Failure to obtain a land lease each
time meant that plans to build a permanent clubhouse had to be
abandoned. Recently, the club has been working with the local
authority looking at the possibility of using one of several buildings
they are no longer using. We will always continue the dream of
having a clubhouse on the site of the disused Colour Works on the
left bank of the river.
The Club is currently based around the 800 metre section of the
River Derwent called the Matlock Slalom Site, which is Grade 2
(rapid water). The site has easy access to a permanent slalom
course with training gates and floodlights all year round. In 2013 the
Club also acquired access and paddling rights along the Matlock
Bath promenade from the Victorian Shelter toilets, (north) to the far
end of the river gardens (South) behind the Matlock Bath Pavilion.
Permission for this section has currently lapsed but we will hopefully
be will be able to renew it soon. In 2019 Paddle Peak was launched
(https://www.paddlepeak.org/). Their aim is to work together with land
owners and other water users to ensure everyone can enjoy fair,
shared, open access to the river. We hope one day paddlers will be
able to enjoy paddling from the Derwent Dams to the Trent.