Matlock Slalom Site

River Derwent, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire

Grid reference: SK 296587

Nearby Postcode: DE4 3RT

Access: Open all year round.

Access and Egress:Top and Bottom Steps

Permanent slalom training gates throughout the year

The Matlock Slalom is held on the River Derwent, which runs along the A6 between Matlock and Matlock Bath. The division 2/3 slalom is held annually in March / April, when the river is usually still high enough to present an enjoyable challenge for all paddlers.

The river can be accessed at all times of year from the car park at Artist’s Corner, about a mile south of Matlock. The river meanders gently down to the slalom site beside the “Colour Works” on the A6.

Below the bridge, the river falls down a slight rapid with good breakouts to right and left. The first challenge is presented by the rock “Killer” which lurks in the middle of the river… no problem if you avoid eye contact! The course design will undoubtedly contain some tricky move around the rock, but allow scope for the more wary paddler to take an alternative route.

The course then progresses across another flat stretch of water before a second small drop at the bottom of the course. The water here changes depending on the river’s mood, but the course will usually involve a surf across the “friendly” stopper.

This stretch of grade 2 rapids should provide the opportunity to demonstrate your white water skills, but may not be the best place for your first div 3 event, especially after a period of heavy rain.

Even courses that are usually easy can become dangerous in exceptional high water conditions. If in doubt, seek advice or stay off the water.


River Levels

For current River Derwent levels at Matlock go to: 


Levels to be aware of: 

0.90m – No Matlock Canoe Club beginner sessions

1.50m – No Matlock Canoe Club sessions


A rough guide to river levels at Matlock: 

1.23m – Flowing over Killer- good eddies- nice level for experienced paddlers to play

1.29m – No egress at bottom steps

1.65m – Very few eddies; washed out – too high to do anything

3.99m – Touches bridge!


Even though the river is easy paddle it can become dangerous in exceptional high water conditions. If in doubt, seek advice or stay off the water.

If in doubt, the river levels should be checked visually at the Slalom Site.


 River Grading 

1Moving water, unobstructed and without technical difficulties. There may be small waves and riffles to challenge the paddler.
Slightly moving water, giving some eddy-lines, but not enough to worry paddlers; and with at the most one small drop which paddlers simply have to run down.
2Waves, small stoppers and other minor obstructions to avoid. Eddies and cushion waves may be strong.
3Waves, stoppers and technical difficulties are more severe. There may be drops and powerful constrictions. The main distinguishing factor of Grade 3 water is that the paddler will have to follow a recognisable route to avoid obstacles and hazards.
4Severe waves, drops, stoppers and other obstructions. The route is not easily recognisable and will usually require careful inspection from the boat or bank. Grade 4 encompasses a wide range of rivers, from those with pool-drop rapids to those with extended continuous rapids; so there is a huge variation in difficulty. It is common to distinguish easier grade 4 rapids by grading them as 4- and harder rapids as 4+ (or in some cases, 3/4 or 4/5).