Things to do in Matlock and the Peak District
February 2, 2022 1:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm staying in Matlock for a few days in mid-February. I don't know the area at all. We want to do some walking and are otherwise interested in museums, history and art stuff. Any recommendations for things to do and see would be great, plus interesting shops (we have bookshops covered) or cafes and restaurants. I've seen the website for Cromford Mills and we are very likely to do that. Thanks.
posted by paduasoy to Travel & Transportation around Derbyshire Dales, England (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you like slightly trashy resorts, the nearby Matlock Bath is worth a trip. A middling aquarium, some amusement arcades, a couple of touristy tearooms and shops, fish and chips... kind of a small seaside resort, but inland. The cable car is fun if it's open.

I've been to Crich tramway village, and would recommend it for a different trip (closed until mid-March).

If you're prepared to go a little out of your way, Creswell Crags is a unique place and well worth your time. I think you have to book in advance for a cave tour (well worth it).
posted by pipeski at 3:32 AM on February 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Tissington is lovely, a private village that's like going back in time. Haddon Hall is also a fantastic Elizabethan stately home.
posted by essexjan at 4:20 AM on February 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Not super-close to Matlock, but definitely Peak District: I was there a few years ago and had lovely walk/runs from Hathersage YHA up along Stanage Edge and back, and from Edale YHA up to Mam Tor. I was winging it a bit on both, so not sure I could tell you the routes I took, but I think they're well enough known you'd find details online. Cracking views from both. They were somewhat fueled by nostalgia as I'd been to both on my first ever school holiday aged 9, but I think even without that they'd be good days out.

You might not be quite late enough in the month for this, but just in case - if you happen to be at all into folk music, keep an eye out for The Sheffield Folk Train. It's obviously been a bit up and down with Covid, but on the 4th Tuesday of every month (so 22nd Feb this month), a bunch of folk musicians jump on the 7.14pm train from Sheffield to Edale accompanied by lots of enthusiastic audience members, play music on the journey to Edale, jump off and do a gig in the pub next to the station, and then get the train back to Sheffield. We walked over from Edale YHA beforehand and had dinner in the pub, and it was amazing - there was suddenly a huge commotion as the train arrived, crowds of people poured into the pub and started playing music, drinking, chatting and generally being partyish. Then a few hours later suddenly everyone got up and left to get the last train back to Sheffield and peace descended again. Such a lovely night.

The last post on their facebook page said they hoped to start it again in early 2022 so might be worth messaging them to enquire, will leave this comment up anyway for anyone else who happens on this thread in future!
posted by penguin pie at 5:16 AM on February 2, 2022 [4 favorites]

I am going to assume by bookshops you mean the great Scarthin Books.

The Heights of Abraham is probably the obvious one. It's pretty good, although you need to be good with heights for the cable car (I am not, so have to do it with my eyes shut...)

I like Creswell Crags - treat it as nice chilled out day.

Haddon Hall is great, but arguably Chatsworth is the better one overall, although I haven't checked what each have on at the moment.

Carsington Water is nice if you want a walk around/hire bikes.

Bit further away, but if you go up to Treak Cliff caverns, there's a lot around there (Castleton, Hathersage etc) and lots to make a good day of it.
posted by Hartster at 5:22 AM on February 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

The Monsal trail is nice for a walk or easy cycle - it follows the path of an old rail line so most of the up and down has been removed. It also makes a nice way to get into Bakewell without having to deal with traffic (might not be as much of an issue in February) - there is pay and display parking near Hassop that is a bit more than a mile walk from Bakewell proper.

If you do decide to go to Cromford Mills, the audio walking tour is very nice - it is comprehensive and takes you around the mills as well as through the town of Cromford itself.
posted by penguinicity at 5:29 AM on February 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you go to Crich, make sure to stop for some bread and nosh from Loaf. The walk up to the beacon and war memorial from there is easy and gives excellent views on a nice day.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 7:33 AM on February 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

If you're driving, about 25 minutes' drive from Matlock is Arbor Low which is a neolithic stone circle. It's open every day and only costs £1 to visit, payable to the private landlowner. I was taken to visit it on a school trip when I was about 9 years old and have never forgotten it.
posted by essexjan at 9:55 AM on February 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

This is the opposite end of the Peak District from where you'll be based, but it does meet your criteria for bit of walking and a bit of history. Not far from where the Pennine Trail crosses the Snake Pass, there is the crash site of a USAF B-29 that came down in 1948, and the wreckage is still there.

Not to everyone's taste, I'll grant you, but I found it quite poignant when I went.

Only go if the weather's good.
posted by Beverley Westwood at 9:59 AM on February 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

If you have a car and don't mind an hour's drive each way, you can head up to the Snake Pass Summit and then hike out to the site of a WWII plane crash.

Don't do this in bad weather or if you don't have reasonable "not getting lost on the moors" skills, it's not a waymarked path.
posted by quacks like a duck at 10:03 AM on February 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

If industrial-revolution history interests you, then explore around Cromford a bit more. You already know about Cromford Mills, but there's also very pleasant walking along the Cromford Canal, and the old railway converted into the High Peak Trail, with some mad inclines.

All within walking distance, or a short drive, of Matlock.
posted by vincebowdren at 4:47 AM on February 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

There's lovely walking just a couple of miles away on Stanton Moor; the Nine Ladies Stone Circle is quite something (no entry fee, no visitors centre), and the Flying Childers down the road is one of my favourite country pubs.
posted by vincebowdren at 4:54 AM on February 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

The very picturesque village of Bakewell is a short drive from Matlock: home of the famous Bakewell Tart and Bakewell Pudding (very different, so good).
posted by guessthis at 5:20 AM on February 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, this is all very good stuff. I have just discovered there is an episode of Mark Steel's in Town on Matlock and MB, for anyone interested.
posted by paduasoy at 7:18 AM on February 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Additionally, the Hathersage Lido is open-air, heated and worth a visiting for a splash, even better if it's raining when you're swimming in an outside pool. Buxton also has a spa and gardens to walk in. The Buxton Brewery pub is in the Old Court House, have some of their tasty beers in cask delivery.
posted by k3ninho at 2:30 PM on February 4, 2022 [3 favorites]

I hope your holiday hasn't come to a sudden end with you being flooded out; this rain has been really quite something.
posted by vincebowdren at 2:23 PM on February 20, 2022 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We did leave a day early, and think might have had to stay on for another day if we hadn't gone then, looking at the coverage of the Derwent.

Activities were somewhat curtailed by flooding, and at one point snow. We did have a car, but couldn't really go more than 3 or 4 miles from Matlock, and outdoor activities were difficult. We spent a morning in Scarthin Books and a morning in the Lead Mining Museum. We also in desperation did the Aquarium (I'm not keen on fish) to get out of the icy rain - the small display of local history info isn't bad.

Hope to visit again some time and actually do some of the suggestions.
posted by paduasoy at 1:45 AM on February 27, 2022 [1 favorite]

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