From on the other side of its banks, we can take in the beauty of the River Derwent itself. This river also formed the Matlock Gorge.
The cliff faces we can see are made of hard limestone, but above them would have been layers of softer rocks – shales and grits. Over time the river water cut through these softer stones in a process called erosion and created the deep valley. Erosion is ongoing and now the water is slowly cutting through the much harder layer of limestone.
The gorge we can see, however, follows a curious route. Instead of eroding through the hard limestone, it makes more sense for the river to find other softer stones to pass through. At some point the river must have changed course. One explanation is that the river’s course was affected during the last Ice Age. Large glaciers may have blocked its path or forced the river to move by slowly pushing it from the east. Whatever the cause, it left a dramatically deep gorge and plunging limestone cliff faces.