Matlock Bath, Derbyshire

Situated on the main A6 road in the Derbyshire Peak District, Matlock is no stranger to me. It’s important to choose your day to visit the town as at the weekends it becomes a haven for out of town motorcyclists to promenade and to show off their bikes at the roadside. It’s easy to see how the former spa town became popular with Victorian tourists however; the geography is beautiful with the town cutting into a long dale with the River Derwent running through it. Matlock has the feel of an inland seaside resort – complete with fish and chips and amusement arcades!

Towering up above the town stand The Height’s of Abraham. This is a hilltop visitor park which has a ski-resort style cable car to transport one up to the top. A pleasant thing to do with the kids but beware the exorbitant £9 charge to ride up there. The park at the top is really nothing special, though it does have nice views and two lead mines which take conducted tours underground as part of the admission fee.

On certain evenings at this time of the year the town hosts ‘Venetian nights’ as a long established custom. On these occasions illuminated boats travel down the river whilst the river itself is illuminated. Other events are a paddle boat race along the river and fireworks displays.

On my visit I parked on the main street the river had an unusual inhabitant – a TV set complete with cable and plugging dragging along the river bed! Inquisitive ducks were tuning in to ‘Men and Motors’ as I stood there to observe.

There are other attractions too, especially for the children who are catered for by ‘Gulliver’s Kingdom’ theme park if they enjoy that kind of thing. On entering the town from the south one passes the ancient Masson Mill which is now a slightly more interesting than usual shopping experience. Other attractions include a coal mining museum and an indoor aquarium.

In truth, Matlock Bath, (not to be confused with Matlock, further along the road) is something of a honey pot for visitors and this is reflected in the types of business the town excels in, chips shops, café’s, amusement arcades etc. Let this not put the prospective visitor off however for this town originally became popular for extremely good reasons, the huge and scenic gorge and the towering tors above it ensured that. Be careful and pick that day for a visit carefully though.

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