On the very edge of the Peak district, deep in the Derwent
Valley running through the Derbyshire Dales, half an hour or so from
the M1 and very well signposted from every direction is a small town
that can easily be described as a seaside resort without the sea –
Matlock Bath. Unless you are a Victorian poet called Byron that is,
who called it Little Switzerland. I’ve seen Heidi (and Skippy) in my
younger days and yes I can agree somewhat with said poet because
of a few scattered chalets, however a seaside resort without the sea
describes it better. Matlock town itself is a couple miles along the
road (Skippy has nothing to do with it)
Whichever route you take, the roads would be glorious for
bikes if it weren’t for those infuriating other vehicles which will
hinder your journey. Along with a few ‘Safety cameras’, low speed
limits, traffic lights, not helped by white lines – double ones at that…
Little more than country lanes in places, the road twists, turns,
rises and fall through amazing countryside coupled with forgotten
icons of the industrial revolution. Travelling from the south, along
the A6 from Derby, check out one of the worlds very first factory’s
which is a cotton mill in Belper, a marvel of engineering powered by
water from the river Derwent. You don’t need to go in pay and tour
the place (unless you want to of course), just pull into the car park
(it’s free) and see how the water is directed under the whole building
and you’ll get the idea of the ingenuity involved in this magnificent
feat of engineering.
A few miles off the A6 is the village of Crich, the home of
The National Tram museum. (Moving on quickly) On the top of the
hill behind the museum is ‘The Stand’ – a war memorial which is a
viewing tower. One of the most awesome views you’ll get anywhere.
On a good day you can see Lincoln cathedral and over five counties –
a long way! It’s free though donations are gratefully accepted.
On the approach to Matlock Bath from the south, is another
old mill which is now a department store. Interesting to have a walk
round, they’ve converted the old loom works building into a multi
story car park.
Just before you hit the promenade, hidden away on the left
is ‘Gullivers Kingdom’, a theme park aimed at the under 12’s. It’s well
worth a visit for the incredible views over the valley. It’s built on the
site of the old Victorian gardens and park which were cut into the
steep hillside, much of the original walled garden remain as pieces of
history. The rollercoaster, which isn’t quite up there with the Swarm
and the Smiler, (but will beat the pants off ‘em for location) is named
The Switchback after the worlds’ longest switchback rollercoaster
that stood on the edge of the town below Gullivers almost 100 years
ago. The ski lift is a must… If you go after 3pm admission is half price
be careful riding up through the cark park – hairpin bends and steep
If you’ve never been to Matlock Bath you’re in for a treat.
The area has been declared a national treasure or something similar
so that it doesn’t get overloaded with things which would spoil its
The tree tunnel road leads directly onto the promenade. Do
a ride by first and take it in…. a long row of bikes, as far as you can
see – with the occasional car squeezed amongst them all lined up on
one side of the road next to the shops, cafes, bars, pubs, arcades,
curiosities, museums, gift shops, ice cream parlours and fish and chip
shops. Slap in the middle is an aquarium which houses the baths. It’s
rather cheesy but a must see attraction. The opposite side, across
the promenade where the sand & sea should be, is green with trees
and a small river.
Welcome to Matlock Bath.