Head out into the peaks for nostalgia packed family fun
I love exploring what the countryside has to offer within an hour or so from my front door. This weekend we headed down the A6 to Matlock – about 1hr 20 mins from where we live in Sale. Once through Hazel Grove’s Friday evening traffic it took no time at all.
My husband Tris’ family is scattered around the country, so Matlock has become our destination of choice for get-togethers. This time it was to celebrate his fabulous cello playing mother’s 70th birthday! Tris’ talented younger sister was in charge of the cake!
This is the second time we’ve stayed in this lovely house, with it’s stream and gardens just across the road. It’s a bit like staying in an episode of Escape to the Country!
So what does Matlock have to offer?
Keep in mind that we visited in January, so the town wasn’t in it’s full fun-time summer plumage. But these are some of the things that we enjoyed during our weekend visit.
Play parks, duck ponds and open spaces
We loved the big open space in the centre of Matlock which runs alongside the fast running River Derwent. The duck pond and play park were so close to where we were staying it was almost like having them in our back garden. The junior member of our party was beyond excited.
The great outdoors
For those feeling a bit more energetic, there are loads of walking options. Head up Pic Tor with it’s lead mining history for great views of the town.
Just a short walk along the river is Matlock Bath, which is where you can ride the cable car high above the valley to The Heights of Abraham which is packed full of fun things to do. Sadly the attraction doesn’t emerge from it’s winter hibernation until 15th February. But the cable cars make a dramatic addition to the skyline, hanging over the whitewater fun of the River Derwent.
Matlock Bath itself is a lovely if rather eclectic mix of grand Georgian houses, Victorian bandstands, river fun, amusements, motorbikes and fish-n-chip shops. Yes, if you love fish-n-chips then in Matlock Bath you’ve found your spiritual nirvana! There’s the memory of a grander and more gentile past wrapped up in the nostalgia of a British seaside town.
It’s a great place to wander. And as we crossed the river via the 1887 Jubilee Bridge and made our way up the other side of the gorge (working up a bit of an appetite) we were rewarded with great views over the town on one side and the lush Derbyshire hills on the other.
Sadly we didn’t have time to explore the Matlock Bath Grand Pavilion which describes itself as ‘Open, ambitious and a little bit scruffy!’ I know how it feels!
Nor were we able to visit the Peak District Lead Mining Museum where you can ‘take a tour into an authentic lead and fluorspar mine and pan for gold’ which looked like loads of fun.
We’ve put them both on our list for next time.
Cakes and curios
You won’t be short of a cake shop in Matlock! We visited The Cool River Café for our fix, which was really close to where we were staying. Let’s just say that the walk didn’t justify the amount of cake consumed!
Matlock also has a plethora of antique purveyors. We spent a long ….. long time mooching around Matlock Antiques and Collectables which was three floors or history, housing over 70 antique dealers. It was an eye opener to say the least in terms of the collectables I’ve got scattered around my own house! I’ve had to add my nan’s old earthenware casserole pot to the insurance and next I’m off to recall the two Ercol chairs I’ve loaned to a friend with toddlers, which are apparently worth £130 each!
No trip to Matlock would be complete without a trip on the Peak Railway. A 10 minute walk from the town centre lies Matlock Riverside Station – the starting point for our steam powered adventure*.
You can ride all the way to Rowsley via Darley Dale. It’s not a huge distance, but it’s well worth it – especially if combined with a hot chocolate stop half way.
A great base for a longer holiday
If you have more time to spend in Matlock, then there’s also plenty further afield to keep you out of mischief. Here are a few things that are on my wish list for next time:
For more information about things to do in Matlock visit matlock.gov.uk
Alison x (your 4Manchester Women Editor)
* The train goes from the main railway station in the summer months.
Photographs: Alison Staples
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