Best Things to Do in Matlock Bath: On the east flank of the Peak District National Park, Matlock is a town famous for its Victorian seaside resort and the spinning industry launched by Sir Richard Arkwright in the 18th century.
The Derwent Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in a few minutes, you’ll be at the Cromford Mills, where Arkwright invented the modern factory system in the 1770s.
- 1 10 Best Things to Do in Matlock Bath
10 Best Things to Do in Matlock Bath
In 1689 hot springs were discovered near Matlock, and in the 19th century, a spa flourished downstream.
Matlock Bath hugs the Derwent in the steep valley and has family-friendly destinations like Gulliver’s Kingdom theme park and Abraham’s great Heights, a hilltop country park.
1. Lumsdale Valley
On the east side of Matlock, this rugged tree-lined gorge combines natural beauty with the ghosts of the water industry.
Cromford Mills has established a mile-long self-guided trail through the valley, passing evocative mill ruins, as well as mill ponds, waterfalls and cascades.
The trail is a photographer’s dream and lasts about 90 minutes, descending 500 meters as you go. A brochure showing the history of the buildings on the route can be downloaded. It’s the best idea to wear walking shoes and be careful, as some of the rocks can be slippery in wet weather.
2. Pico District Lead Mining Museum
The local lead mining industry has been relegated to the past, but it was one of the main sources of income for the region.
The museum in the Great Pavilion at Matlock Bath has three dummy mine tunnels, in which you will test the conditions in which miners, including children, are expected to work. Children will be able to crawl through the tunnels and play with interactive stations.
You will also marvel at the immense Wills Founder Water Pressure Engine, built at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire in 1819 and which uses hydraulic power to pump water from deep underground.
There are detailed exhibits on the geology that made these mines so lucrative and a collection of more than 3,000 mineral specimens collected by the eminent petrologist, Professor A. Howie.
3. Matlock Bath Aquarium and Arcade
The building where the Victorians would “take the waters” has become a peculiar but pleasant attraction for visitors. The original thermal pool is filled with more than 2,271,000 liters of water per day. Victorian bathers have long been replaced by common carp, mirror and koi carp, some weighing up to 13kg.
You can also see a ‘petrifying well’ that was once believed to turn objects into stone (instead of covering them with mineral deposits!), As well as an assortment of gemstones and fossils, a collection of holograms, and over 1,700 pieces. made of Goss and Crested porcelain.
4. Heights of Abraham
The “Heights of Abraham” comes from Abraham’s Plains in Quebec, the scene of a crucial battle in 1759 during the Seven Years’ War.
There is a cable car that takes you up to the hilltop park, where you can take in panoramic views of the Derwent Valley from the Victoria Prospect Tower and an amphitheater at the bottom.
Kids can burn off energy in two adventure play areas, while there is a café and an exhibition hall that cover the history of the estate and display an astonishing collection of fossils.
5. Cromford Mills
The first stop on his journey through the Derwent Valley as a World Heritage Site, Cromford Mills was Sir Richard Arkwright’s first spinning complex.
Built-in the 1770s, this site changed the course of industrial and world history, as the place where the modern factory system was born.
Cromford Mills is the centerpiece of the World Heritage Site and features a multimedia gallery where you can view an Arkwright hologram, view interactive displays, and watch a film about the mills narrated by actor Brian Blessed.
6. Cromford Canal
Starting at the Cromford Mill, you can take a memorable walk along the 18th century Cromford Canal for a few miles.
There is plenty of tree coverage along the towpath in summer, and some lovely old features like the dock warehouses, the Gregory tunnel, railroad brake cars, a working swing bridge, and a chocolate house, which we’ll mention.
June is a lovely time to walk along the water when you are sure to see geese, ducklings and swans in the water.
The canal used to run 15 miles from Cromford to the Erewash Canal, and so far 5 miles to Ambergate have been restored.
7. Leys Park Room
In 2017 Hall Leys Park collected its 10th consecutive Green Flag award, placing it among the best parks in the country.
South of the city center, on the Derwent and facing the top of Riber Castle, the park has plenty to keep the kids stimulated in summer.
There’s a nautical lake with vintage motorized boats, a miniature railway, and a wet, interactive play area.
There’s also a café, a pretty Victorian bandstand where local marching bands give summer concerts, and a pretty fountain in the center of the formal flower beds.
8. Matlock Meadows
At the top of Matlock’s west shoulder is a dairy farm that has made for a fun summer day, especially if you like ice cream.
The farm is free to visit and generates income through its ice creams, made with milk from the farm’s own dairy farm.
You can buy some to go or try them in the cafe, which serves 15 different flavors, as well as a selection of sorbets, ice cream and sandwiches.
There is a shop that sells handmade crafts on the farm and a small play area outside. You can also visit the field and the barn next door, which has cows, chickens, sheep and a micro pig.
9. Black Rocks
Flying south over Cromford, there is a sudden natural outcrop of sandstone.
You can navigate the marked trails on Cromford Moor, climbing to Sheep Pasture Top for a poignant panorama spanning the Cromford, Matlock Gorge to the north, and parts of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site.
Black Rocks were mined for lead, and crevice growths are unusual plants that can tolerate the high lead content in rocks.
This wall has been a climbing destination for over 100 years and on a sunny day, you are sure to see people climbing the steep rock faces. Nearby you can access the High Peak Trail, following the course of the former Cromford and High Peak railway.
10. Matlock Farm Park
On a 600-acre farm, this kid-oriented attraction has an abundance of domestic animals including lambs, llamas, goats, sheep, turkeys, ponies, and cattle, but also wallabies and meerkats.
There are seasonal animal encounters for children, such as keeping rabbits, guinea pigs and chickens, and feeding lambs in the spring.
In the meerkat enclosure, the little ones can attend talks and live demonstrations while collecting facts about the field and learning about life on a farm.
There are also pony rides and ferret racing, as well as indoor and outdoor play areas and go-karts. The Parque de la Granja is also attached to a riding school and a hiking center for horseback riding and pony rides.
11. Matlock bathroom lightings
Between the beginning of September and the end of October, there is a light display on the River Derwent that inspired a lot of local affection.
Matlock Bathroom Lightings are now over 120 years old and are produced by the Matlock Venetian Boat Builders Association.
Mounted on their boats are models made with a lot of love, following a different theme each year. Recent topics have been Chinese dragons, transportation, Dr. Who, and Star Wars. You can see the displays at the exhibits on Saturday and Sunday nights just off the Derby Road next to the Derwent.
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