We are fortunate to live just an hour’s drive from the magnificent Peak District National Park. Famed for its outstanding natural beauty, green moors and dales, steep gorges, country estates and quaint pretty villages this truly is a breathtaking part of the world.
One of our favourite places to visit is Matlock Bath. Nestled in a steep gorge alongside the River Derwent this spa town is located right on the edge of the Peak District. Just a 35 minute drive from Derby. Visitors have been flocking to the area since the 18th century, originally to bath in the medicinal hot springs and later to mix in high society as the town become highly fashionable and prosperous. These days Matlock Bath has a charming seaside feel with more fish and chip shops than people, penny arcades, charming independent shops and some fantastic family attractions.
I thought I’d share our top family friendly things to do in this historic tourist town and the surrounding townships.
8 great things to do in and around Matlock Bath with kids
Gullivers Kingdom is a unique theme park set on a stunning hillside with amazing views of over the Derwent Valley. Aimed at children from ages 3-13 years the park has fantastic rides and themed areas including the new Lost World of the Living Dinosaurs, Western World, Adventure Land, pirate play area, log flume with an unrivalled view and so much more. Parking is FREE and you are welcome to bring a picnic. Gullivers Kingdom really is one of the best theme parks from children in the UK. Please check the website for full details and opening times.
Heights of Abraham
One of the oldest tourist attractions in Derbyshire, the Heights of Abraham first opened in 1780. This beautiful country park is set in 60 acres of woodland that is reached by cable cars that traverse a deep limestone gorge, offering stunning views of the Derwent Valley. Once at the top you can visit the famous show caverns, kids can let off steam in the play area and there is also plenty of space for picnics and the onsite Vista Restaurant. We can’t recommend the Heights of Abraham enough, it’s a truly unique experience. Open from the 17th March to 4th November (10am – 4.30pm daily)
Matlock Bath Aquarium
Matlock Bath Aquarium is located on the high street and has to be the quaintest, cutest and generally curious Aquariums we’ve ever visited. Don’t be fooled by the word aquarium, this little place has more than just fish. Under one roof you’ll find 50 species of fish, Matlocks fascinating petrifying well, one of Europe’s largest collections of holograms and a huge thermal pool filled with giant Koi Carp! Check the website for seasonal opening times. Entry is just £3 per person.
Crich Tramway Museum
In the village of Crich, just 6 miles from Matlock Bath you’ll find the Crich Tramway Museum, this heritage centre boasts 60 vintage trams that were built between 1900 and 1930. There is also a charming period village with a traditional pub, café, old fashioned sweet shop and tram depots. Children will love the woodland walk and sculpture trail, look out for the giant wood ant and troll! Head over the Crich Tramway Museum website for seasonal opening times and prices.
Board the steam and diesel trains of Peak Rail at Matlock station, located just 2 miles from Matlock Bath. This heritage railway runs for 4 miles between Matlock station and Rowsley South. Be transported to the golden age of railway with the vintage steam and diesel locomotives. There is an on-board buffet service for light meals and snacks. You can also enjoy the luxury of Pullman style dining in the acclaimed Palantine Dining Restaurant. See the Peak Rail website for a full timetable and prices.
Cromford Mill and Canal
Just 2 miles from Matlock Bath is Cromford Mill and Canal. Cromford was the world’s first successful water powered cotton mill and now holds UNESCO World Heritage Site status. The mill houses a fantastic visit centre. There are great activities for the whole family including a full scale interactive model of the mill. Guided tours are available. You’ll also love the stables and converted coach restaurant.
The northern part of the Cromford Canal lies within the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site. You can access the towpath from the mill. There are 5 miles of towpath to explore. Take in the sights and sounds of life on the canals including the Leawood Pumphouse and the diverse wildlife. Birdswood Canal Boat offers canal rides on the beautifully restored narrow boat. Choose from motor powered or horse drawn services.
Matlock Farm Park
This delightful animal farm is an easy 6 mile drive from Matlock Bath. Matlock Farm Park is nestled in the gorgeous Derbyshire countryside. Children and grown ups will love animals that you can see and feed. You can even have a cuddle with the smaller animals in the barn. Learn about the meerkats, have a pony ride, watch ferret races and race on the go karts. There’s also a great play area and café. Head over to the Matlock Animal Farm website for opening times and prices.
Hall Leys Park
Located in the neighbouring Matlock, Hall Leys Park is one of the UK’s best family parks. You can make a full day of it at Hall Leys Park there is so much to do. In the grounds you’ll find a miniature railway, boating lake, interactive play area, putting green, restaurant and skateboard park. There is free WiFi onsite as well.
Whether it’s a day trip or a short break away there are so many family friendly things to do in and around Matlock Bath. I hope you find this post helpful in planning your trip to the Peak District.
Thanks for reading
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