A Day Out in Matlock Bath – Part Two

During the summer of 2020, the Explore Buxton team set off for a visit to The Heights of Abraham. With some time to kill on arrival, we decided to explore taking a detour to Matlock Bath Aquarium as well as enjoying a wander round this quaint Victorian spa town. So, our adventure continued as we headed for Britain’s first alpine style cable car, dating back 230 years…

Arriving at the cable car station, the climb into the clouds looked to be a gentle one. We boarded a cable car almost right away; it’s highly recommended you book in advance by the way. We had a slight sense of anticipation as it took off and we were soon above the treetops and the views down into the town were lovely. High Tor, the imposing limestone crag which overlooks Matlock soon comes into view as does the superb vista of the Peak District, serving as a reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful part of the world.

The cable car stops half way which gives you chance to take photos, which admittedly was a little nerve wracking as it was slightly windy but great fun! The ride was only about five minutes long before we reached the summit. After perusing the visitor guide it was clear there was a lot to see here and we probably weren’t going to cover it all.

We booked for 1pm but there’s a lot to see and to be honest a full day would be better so you can enjoy lunch and make you sure you don’t miss anything.

So we headed off to cover as much as we could; first stop – The Great Masson Cavern guided tour. There are two show caves here, we only had time for one, the other being The Rutland Cavern & Nestus Mine. The show caves give an interesting insight into the 17th century lead mining industry in Derbyshire. At the end of the tour, we climbed several steps and exited the cavern near Tinker’s Shaft, one of the highest points on the estate – rewarding us with spectacular views across the the Derwent Valley. The view here of High Tor is now joined by the 19th century Riber Castle in the distance; a mighty mock-Gothic folly, built by 19th century knitwear baron John Smedley with a somewhat chequered history.

We were parched at this point so made a beeline for The Terrace Café (below The Vista Bar and Restaurant which offers slightly more formal dining). On route we spotted a traditional Punch and Judy show – a fixture at Heights for fifteen years, it’s great to see so many children continue to enjoy this Victorian tradition!

The café offers another opportunity to enjoy the views. After fuelling up on a huge slice of (delicious) gluten free chocolate cake and a cup of Earl Grey Tea, we continued to explore.

Sadly, we were too grown up for the Woodland Play Adventure area 😀, clearly the children playing here looked to be having a great time…

Of course no trip to a visitor attraction is complete without perusing the souvenirs available and The Treetops Gift Shop doesn’t disappoint with lots of Derbyshire and Peak District inspired rocks, minerals, crystals, fossils, jewellery and more.

Last stop – The Victoria Prospect Tower. Originally built in 1844, this restored look-out tower has a winding spiral staircase and a 360 degree view. There is plenty more to see but we’d run out of time at this point. We’d quite like to enjoy more of the outdoor picnic areas and walking trails next time. New for 2020 is the Audio Tour, which gives detail on the history of the site – we might try this next time too; there is WiFi across the estate.

Having been on a cable car in Europe, albeit a much bigger one, the experience was certainly thrilling.

We walked back into the town along the river which is pleasant stroll and eventually you arrive at the rear of the Peak District Lead Mining Museum; we didn’t have time to visit, that’s another trip.

Dogs are welcome on the cable car and around the grounds as long as they are kept on a lead. If you are planning on eating in their café, your four legged friend can join you for lunch on the outdoor cafe terrace.

Tickets and Booking

Advanced booking is strongly recommended.

Tickets booked online are £25 per adult, £17.50 per child and £77 for a family of two adults and two children. Additional child £10. Under 5’s go free.

Tickets are available to purchase at the gate for are £28.50 per adult, £21 per child, £80 for a family of two adults and two children. Additional child £10. Under 5’s go free.

Guests who travel by bus or train to Matlock Bath are rewarded with a 20% discount on admission prices. Simply show your bus or rail tickets at the ticket office or click here to book online.

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