Top 5 things to do in Derbyshire
I’ve lived in Derbyshire all my life, and it’s one of my favourite places in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world, but sometimes there really is no place like home. So here are a few of my favourite spots to visit now spring is here.
- Matlock Bath
For those of us who grew up in Derbyshire, pretty much as far away from the British coast as you can get, a day trip to Matlock Bath was the closest we got for most of the year. For friends who’ve moved to the area, it’s a confusing contradiction, “so it’s like the seaside, but in the middle of the country?!”
A wander through Matlock Bath reveals its many delights, from the numerous fish and chip shops, to stores selling homemade ice creams and the arcades with penny pushers and slot machines which make it so akin to a British seaside town, with one obvious missing point.
It’s a great spot to walk along the river, grab a bite to eat or a drink in The Fishpond pub or just to while away an hour or two on the way home from one of the other attractions on the list.
- Heights of Abraham
Located at one end of Matlock Bath, the Heights of Abraham is a unique attraction, a cable car hanging high across the valley. The twelve cars take passengers along the half a kilometre route, providing stunning views of the surrounding area from the panoramic windows.
Once you arrive at the top station of the cable car, there is plenty more to explore around the summit of Masson Hill. There are walks around the hillside, which provide the opportunity to explore the routes taken by Victorian visitors to the spa town of Matlock Bath who were encouraged to walk up the hill for their health and fitness.
The key attraction at the top of the hill is the show caverns, which repurpose the former lead mines into a stunning attraction lit with colour and incorporating a guided tour.
Dovedale has to be one of the prettiest spots in Derbyshire, the River Dove flows through this picturesque spot around the stepping stones which allow visitors to cross the gently flowing river. On bank holidays and most weekends throughout the summer, Dovedale is crowded with picnicking families looking for a relaxing experience and on the hottest days the river is teeming with children and adults alike, paddling in the fresh water and trying to keep cool. For the more athletic visitor, the hike up Thorpe Cloud is a popular way to spend the day.
For a more gentle walk, follow the wide, open and relatively flat path that follows the course of the river to Milldale and beyond. Each year, Dovedale, which is owned by the National Trust attracts over a million visitors, but choose your day right, and you could have the place almost to yourself. The best times to visit are weekdays and outside of school holidays.
- Chatsworth Estate
Possibly the most famous stately home in the world, Chatsworth has starred in numerous films and TV dramas including Pride and Prejudice, The Duchess, The Crown and Peaky Blinders. The house itself is a beautiful, if not expensive place to visit and is home to a vast collection of art. However the real beauty is in the grounds of the Estate, both in the formal gardens of the house, including the Cascade, a water feature that runs down a series of steps behind the house and also in the parkland which surrounds the house. There are many paths which crisscross all over the estate and access to these is free, other than a small charge if you wish to use the car park. In recent years, Chatsworth has developed it’s offering to draw in more visitors and is now host to the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, the Chatsworth Country Fair and an annual Christmas Market which runs alongside the stunning seasonal displays within the house itself. After a busy day exploring Chatsworth, head 2 miles down the road to Pilsley to the Chatsworth Farm Shop where you can pick up a range of locally produced goods including meat from the estate.
When you hear the word “Bakewell”, most people’s first thought will be of Mr Kipling, not the pretty Derbyshire town. The Cherry Bakewells or Bakewell Tarts that you might find in the supermarket are not what the town is famous for, rather they are a commercialised interpretation of the traditional Bakewell pudding. Numerous shops around town claim to have the “original” recipe, and everyone around these parts has a favourite pudding shop, but they are all pretty and quaint enough to while away some time whilst enjoying a cup of tea and a traditional pudding. Elsewhere in town there are numerous shops catering to outdoor enthusiasts and pretty parks and walks along the river for visitors to enjoy. In recent years the Wye Bridge on the edge of town has become reminiscent of Paris’s Pont Des Arts, covered in padlocks inscribed with lovers names. There are efforts to discourage this, but at the moment the trend seems set to continue.
Next week I’ll be making a traditional Bakewell pudding as well as sharing my favourite Bakewell themed cake recipe.