The Paddle Peak Project was officially launched on Friday evening in Sir Richard Arkwright’s Cromford Mill. The birthplace of the industrial revolution.
Seventy key guests attended including local Derbyshire mayors, councillors, land owners, governing bodies, the National Park, paddlesport businesses, clubs, professionals and Team GB athletes. The evening was kicked off with a freestyle kayaking demonstration by British team members James Bebbington and Isla Crosby in the Cromford Mill Race. Mayor Tim Sutton from Belper Town Council also took to the water with Olympic Champion Etienne Stott.
Paddle Peak is a group of Derbyshire paddlesport businesses, clubs and professionals headed up by Peak UK, British Canoeing and The Derwent Valley Trust who are promoting responsible canoeing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding in the Derwent Valley.
It’s founder, Pete Astles, owner of Peak UK Kayaking Co , who manufacture world leading kayaking equipment in Darley Dale headed up the evening with an inspiring presentation. He was joined by Ben Seal from British Canoeing, Derek Latham from the Derwent Valley Trust, Etienne Stott, Olympic Gold medalist from London 2012 and Joe Clarke, Olympic Gold Medalist from Rio 2016. Pete, Etienne and Joe told their stories, of how they started paddling as youngsters and following their passion led to great achievements and life experiences. Ben, head of British canoeing’s Places to Paddle told the audience of his Clear Access to Clear waters campaign which was launched in parliament in last Autumn. Derek excited the crowd with plans for the Derwent Valley Bike Trail and Water Way, from Ladybower Reservoir to the Derwent’s confluence with the River Trent in Shardlow.
Pete then took everyone through the key five points of his Paddle Peak vision:
Access - Open up the River Derwent Valley for paddlesports.
Currently only a half a mile section of the River Derwent enjoys open, unopposed access within the Derbyshire Dales. In fact, only 4% of England’s inland waters have clear access for paddlesports. Paddlers are not welcomed anywhere within the Derbyshire part of the Peak District National Park. The long term aim is to create a waterway from Ladybower Reservoir all the way to the Derwent confluence with the River Trent, establishing parking, put-ins, take-outs, portages and campsites with landowners and councils. Furthermore, Paddle Peak aim to open up access on Severn Trent’s reservoirs and increase the use of Derbyshire’s historic canals.
Inspire - Enable local youngsters to take up paddlesports.
Set up waterside activity bases within the Derbyshire Dales and Amber Valley with changing facilities, boat storage and class rooms for use by local clubs, emergency services and activity providers. Give all local young, disabled and less fortunate people the chance to try and take up paddlesports. Promoting healthy exercise, lifestyle and good mental well being.
Care - Preserve the River Derwent Valley and protect its wildlife.
Paddlers and other valley users can become guardians of the water by clearing rubbish and monitoring and reporting pollution. Paddle Peak already organise regular river clean ups, and encourage daily removal of waste by all users, leaving the environment in a better condition than we find it.
Share - Responsibly and respectfully share the River Derwent Valley with other users.
Paddle Peak will engage with other water users including fishing clubs, water based activity providers and event organisers by creating a River Derwent Valley user group. This group will establish a joint code of conduct that understands, recognises and compromises with each other’s activities. Paddle Peak’s goal is to peacefully and happily share the River Derwent Valley with all of its users.
Promote - Boost the visitor economy by promoting local business.
Paddler Peak will encourage all water users to frequent and promote local businesses close to the water such as restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, campsites and tourist attractions. They also plan to encourage local business to reduce plastic packaging and promote responsible waste disposal.
Event organiser and founder of Paddle Peak Pete Astles commented after the launch.
“ I am so proud and overwhelmed with the support we have received this evening. For the last 40 years our sport has been restricted and controlled by other water users. I think today we started the second revolution the Derwent Valley has seen. I hope that our project can be adopted on other iconic rivers providing fair, shared and sustainable access for all to our inland waters in the near future. “
Pete also adds -
“i’d like to thank everyone for attending and listening to us. Huge thanks especially must go to Simon Wallwork and his team at Cromford Mill for making the event possible.“