Matlock has been compared to the seaside resort of the, albeit landlocked, Peak District. Despite its lack of actual beach-front, the town has garnered this reputation through the unusual vibe it exudes; amusement arcades and chippy’s populate Matlock’s riverfront, or rather, the stand-in beach-front – the River Derwent. Adding to this, the local tourists’ attractions, Gulliver’s Kingdom and the Heights of Abraham, are reminiscent of the likes of Blackpool or Scarborough. For all its eccentricities, Matlock is worth visiting for its uniqueness, and is perfect for tourists.
Despite Matlock’s seaside façade, what truly puts the Peak District town on the map is its rich, and pivotal, history as part of the Industrial Revolution. Whatever part of the town you explore, you are sure to find remnants of the industrial age. Walking along the Cromford Canal you will see Matlock’s rich history unfold in front of you, and see such sights as the pumphouse that filled the canal, the old mills that were powered by the canals, and the small villages that housed the industrial workers.
For idyllic, faux seaside strolls full of history, Matlock is the best option in the Peak District!
Walks & Hikes
Lumsdale Valley– This historically significant woodland area and gorge is one of Matlock’s lesser-known landmarks, and one of the true gems of the Peak District. Owned and protected by the Arkwright Society, the site was home to several hydro-powered mills during the age of the industrial revolution, using water from the brooks- the same brooks that can be seen running through the valley today. The remains six of the original mills can also be seen at various points in Lumsdale Valley, each in a state of beautiful decay. What makes this site so unusual is the sheer amount of waterpower running through the valley in a seemingly never-ending supply. Only a short walk from Matlock, Lumsdale Valley is perfect for walkers, urban explorers, and photographers.
Cromford Canal – The restored Cromford Canal boasts superb walks, vibrant wildlife, and acts as a brilliant access point to several key industrial landmarks positioned alongside the waters. Only partially restored, only 5 miles of the 15-mile canal are safe to walk on currently, but still, this small stretch provides beautiful scenery, while teaching a lot about Matlock’s industrial past. Originally constructed for the shipment of coal, there are a number of key watermarks along the way of the industrial age, including old railway brake cars and the Leawood Pumphouse. This pumphouse was what filled the canal in the first place, using water pumped from the River Derwent.
Cromford Village and Mill Walk – For more of a history-orientated walk, why not explore the Peak District village of Cromford, Derbyshire as part of a slightly challenging 5-mile walk, which will also take you to Cromford’s historic mill. Setting off from the village itself, hikers will get to see the former industrial epicentre in its entirety, including the quaint market square, original mill workers cottages, and a small selection of shops; the high peak railway is also worth visiting, offering a superb panoramic of the village. The walk then proceeds on to towards the Cromford Canal, which is another piece of valuable Peak District history, as it was originally made to transport limestone. The canal features terrific scenery, boasts a range of wildlife, and passes by Lea Hurst House, a former summer home of Florence Nightingale.
The canal then leads to the historic Arkwright Mill – the original water-powered mill. Opened in 1772, the mill was a feat of industrial ingenuity at the time. Visitors can learn all about it at the recently installed interactive exhibition, which can be found inside the mill itself.
The walk then leads to Cromford wharf, which has a café and cheese shop nearby.
Cromford encompasses many of the aspects that would come to define Britain as the ‘workshop of the world’, it is well worth visiting for history enthusiasts!
Peak District Lead Mining Museum – To learn about what put the Peak District on the map, Matlock’s Lead Mining Museum will teach you all there is to know about the district’s mining history. The museum has three mine simulations, where visitors can take on the role of a miner, pan for minerals, and learn how lead was extracted, while getting a sense of the condition’s workers had to endure.
Showcased in the museum is a selection of the finest minerals found in the Peak District, with over 3,000 specimens on display, alongside a Wills Founder Water Pressure Engine, a 19th-century water pumping tool.
Crich Tramway Village – Located in the village of Crich, Derbyshire, the Tramway Village offers a unique time-travelling experience, sure to maintain the whole family’s interest. The museum showcases trams collected from various British cities that were in use during the early 20th Century. Visitors get the opportunity to ride out to the country and back again on one of these historic trams, passing through a Victorian Village recreation- which is sure to excite the imaginations of all ages. In terms of novel days out, Crich Tramway Village is one of the best the Peak District has to offer!
Gulliver’s Kingdom – Located in in the town of Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, Gulliver’s Kingdom is a theme park catering to young children aged 3-13. However, with the slogan ‘Giant Adventures for Families’, you can rest assured Gulliver’s caters for those members of the family out of the age-bracket as well. A plethora of eateries can be found on site, including the Happy Haddock, Tamu Feast, and the Canyon Grill, alongside a Costa Coffee. This resorts season runs from Easter to the end of Summer, 7-days a week, and then on weekends through September and October.