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Things to do in Matlock Bath, Derbyshire

Matlock Bath enjoys a dramatic location in the deep gorge of the River Derwent.

The Parade, Matlock Bath - Photo by Jeffrey Darlington
The Parade © Jeffrey Darlington

It has been a tourist resort since 1689 when warm springs, at a constant temperature of 68 degrees F, were discovered.

Few people take the waters today but it remains a popular resort with many modern attractions. One might almost be in Blackpool…

The upheavals in Europe in the latter part of the 18th century discouraged the wealthy from making the Grand Tour and they diverted their attention to places like the Peak District.

The Gorge, Matlock Bath - Photo by Jeffrey Darlington
The Gorge © Jeffrey Darlington

They were especially impressed by the sublime scenery of High Tor, a 390ft high limestone cliff that rises sheer from the river.

Lord Byron frequently stayed here and called Matlock Bath a romantic fragment of Switzerland set in the heart of England.

The coming of the railway in the 1840s brought hordes of day-trippers and changed the character of the town, making it more popular and less exclusive, like a seaside resort.

The Church, Matlock Bath - Photo by Jeffrey Darlington
The Church © Jeffrey Darlington

The Parade looks out over the river and has fish and chip shops, teashops and amusement arcades.

Across the Jubilee footbridge, there is a park with children's play areas. A cable car crosses the gorge taking visitors to the Heights of Abraham above the town, and there are a number of other popular attractions.

However, the limestone scenery remains, and there are waymarked walks to take including the short but steep climb up to High Tor, which can be extended to make a fine circular walk around both sides of the valley, with lots of ups and downs and airy views.

Description by Jeffrey Darlington

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