Matlock & Southern Peak District Cottages

Matlock is the county town in Derbyshire and has long been a destination for tourists when in Victorian times people used to come and take the ‘Mild Water Cure’ in the numerous spa hotels. Today it is a bustling little town with local shops, restaurants and pubs surrounding the award-winning Hall Leys Park.

The town sits astride the River Derwent and all the little villages on the valley hillsides are some of the most popular locations for cottage holidays. Winster with its lead mining origins has lots of little cottages, secret little walkways and many a sleepy cat on an Aubretia clad wall. Youlgreave tumbling down the hillside to the River Bradford is a ‘real’ village with proper village shops, a lovely village church and three great pubs. One even does takeaway fish and chips!  

The River Derwent flows through Matlock and then into the steep sided ‘Little Switzerland’ gorge where you will find Matlock Bath with its popular riverside promenade, Heights of Abraham cable cars and Gulliver’s Kingdom children’s theme park. Just beyond is Cromford which just oozes Industrial Revolution history centred on Sir Richard Arkwright’s original water powered mill.

Exploring Cromford is a good day out but there are lots of other attractions nearby to satisfy all interests. For train and transport buffs there is Peak Rail, the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway and the National Tramway Museum. Carsington Water has a great visitor centre, wild water sports, cycle and footpath trails and bird watching. You would think that the National Stone Centre above Wirksworth caters for a very niche interest but everyone enjoys a visit.  

Wirksworth is our favourite local town and is a magnet for lovers of history and heritage. There are jumbles of cottages in the ‘Puzzle Gardens’, an award-winning Heritage Centre and Trail, the StarDisk, 21st century stone circle star chart, sits above the town and it even has its own ‘Northern Lights’ little cinema plus many pubs and restaurants.

Victorian Ashbourne runs Wirksworth a close second. It is a bit more cosmopolitan with bars and restaurants, designer clothes shops and antique arcades gathered round the attractive market square. However, its biggest claim to fame is that it is at the bottom of Dovedale.  Visitors come from far and wide to climb Thorpe Cloud, look over Lovers Leap and dare themselves crossing the stepping stones. Nearby Manifold Dale with its vanishing river is just as nice. 

That’s about it but before we go, we should just mention Belper in the heart of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and Champion Award Winner of The Great British High Street Awards 2019. Lots of local shops, a fantastic fish and chip shop and even a little local cinema. 


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