Nestled in the Derbyshire Dales, Matlock Bath is south of Matlock town on a6 road half way between Derby and Buxton a delightful location for family outings and walks and has been a popular destination to flock to since the warm springs were discovered in 1698 and the first bath house was built. Popularity grew and a new bridge across the river Derwent was built for better access from Old Matlock in the days before the railway came into town which wasn’t until 1840.
Matlock Bath became a society attraction after princess Victoria of Kent made a royal visit in 1832. Lord Byron was a visitor and compared it to alpine Switzerland and his comment led to it being nicknamed little Switzerland. Modern day Matlock Bath could also be compared with seaside locations with it’s promenade alongside the river Derwent, the delicious fish and chips, arcades and gift shops.
As a family we’ve been visiting Matlock Bath in the Derbyshire Dale’s years, we enjoy the riverside walks and like to ascend the steps up to the cliff top trails that overlook this beautiful valley. There’s really something special about the area, and always plenty to do whatever you enjoy, lots of walking trails and sightseeing here but if you want to browse the gift shops take in the atmosphere and have fish and chips for lunch then take it easy and have fun at the arcades if you please. I like the aquarium which is set in one of the Victorian bath houses and while feeding the beautiful Koi carp who swim in what was the bathing area in the warm spring waters, also take in the Victorian architecture and ponder the visitors who might have been there such as; John Ruskin, Erasmus Darwin , Lord Byron to name drop a few of the known society visitors to take in the spa waters at Matlock Bath.
It’s worth spending time to discover more in the area especially if arriving by train for instance. Nearby the train station and well signposted is the cable car station which will take you across the valley and up to the Heights of Abraham and The Great Masson Cavern and the Rutland Cavern & Nestus Mine.
The views over the whole valley are stunning from the cable cars and I highly recommend you take in this opportunity if you get the chance to. The Heights of Abraham are an absolute must if taking the cable car route but beware of the very steep paths as you take in the views and finally descend back into the valley, unless you’re taking the cable car back down of course. A very memorable place to visit including those amazing cable car views!
For more years than I remember, we would take the kids for birthday day trips to Gulliver’s Kingdom which is an amusement park in Matlock Bath and although they’re all but grown up now we have so many fun memories of our birthday trips to the amusement park and we would sometimes take the train to make a full day of it without concern about parking. During these days of lockdown of course the attractions are quite rightly closed for safety.
During the Autumn there’s always been fun times at the yearly illuminations along the riverside with an illuminated boats parade and fireworks on Saturday nights. The Matlock bath illuminations run from late September through to the end of November for 8 weeks. During the 8-week season Matlock Bath Venetian Boat Builders’ Association decorate themed models with an array of coloured lights.
This is a special time to visit, we love to take a walk through the Derwent Gardens and take in the illuminations, a circular walk through the gardens, along Lovers walk, (named lovers walk by the Victorians,) beside the river and return back to the promenade for a delicious fish and chips supper and there are plenty of chip shops to choose from along the road.
The promenade is also a popular destination for motorcyclists so if that’s your interest you’ll catch plenty of beloved motorbikes to admire as you stroll through this quaint town. It is a stunning place with so much to offer and will always be one of my absolute favourite places to visit in Derbyshire. If you enjoy walking, there’s lots of routes that can be linked with a visit to Matlock bath such as a Cromford canal and high peak junction circular down into Cromford village from Black Rocks, once in the village you can take a detour to the left at the main road, A6 which will take you directly into Matlock Bath and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. A great place even if you’re just passing through to take in the atmosphere and stop for refreshments.