Home Features The Heights of Abraham: Derbyshire’s oldest visitor attraction celebrates milestones in 2024

The Heights of Abraham: Derbyshire’s oldest visitor attraction celebrates milestones in 2024

The Heights of Abraham, in Derbyshire, is gearing up to a year of festivities celebrating two significant anniversaries in its 237-year history. Ranking as Derbyshire’s second favourite destination after Chatsworth House, the attraction re-opened to visitors again for the summer season on Saturday, 10th February 2024.

The Heights of Abraham

May marks the 50th ‘Golden Anniversary’ since the Pugh family took over the dilapidated hilltop estate, transforming it into today’s flourishing attraction. In April, the estate commemorates the 40th ‘Ruby Anniversary’ of its iconic alpine-style cable cars, which offer a scenic ascent to Masson Hill’s summit, a haven of spectacular views and enchanting caverns that have captivated visitors since 1787.

The Heights of Abraham

Today the attraction offers a full family experience, with two illuminated show caverns, breathtaking panoramic views from the estate’s vantage points, living history exhibitions, woodland trails and adventure playgrounds. Enjoy a day of learning and inspiration that invites guests of every age to view the region’s splendour from a fresh angle, spanning from the mountainous Peaks to the deep, mineral-laden exhibition caverns, offering a captivating exploration of the area’s geological and historical tapestry.

The Heights of Abraham

The Heights of Abraham

Fifty years ago, Andrew and Vanessa Pugh discovered a unique business for sale, a property of ‘woods, caves, and a house’ in the classified ads of The Daily Telegraph. Immediately capturing their imagination, they moved from London to Derbyshire to take on the new business venture.

The Heights of Abraham
Promotional poster from the 1980s for The Heights of Abraham

An initial period of restoration over ten years included upgrading the old pathways, renovating neglected buildings, including the Victoria Prospect Tower, and improving access to the ancient caverns enhancing their original ‘show’ status.

The Heights of Abraham

In 1984, they installed the pioneering 554ft cable car system in the UK, which received significant media coverage and continues to receive annual engineering updates. This year, the Great Masson Cavern introduces an enhanced lighting experience, while the Rutland Cavern features a Victorian-era tour guide, adding to the historical narrative.

Recently added in 2022 was a Willow Sculpture Trail by artist Caroline Gregson, celebrating local heritage. The estate’s transformation from mining to tourism dates back to Georgian times, with its pleasure garden and caverns attracting a diverse array of visitors, including Lord Byron and friends Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley.

The hillside estate, which had been re-invented with exotic gardens and serpentine paths had donkeys carrying visitors from the resort town up the steep incline to the summit!

The cable cars now offer more comfortable ascent to the summit of The Heights of Abraham, where the views remain largely unchanged since Byron’s era – when he fondly referred to the Derwent Valley and views across down to Matlock Bath below as ‘Little Switzerland’.

Dining with spectacular views, almost 1000ft above sea level

Today’s visitors can also enjoy the unique experience of the Vista Restaurant with its stunning views almost 1000ft above sea level as well as The Terrace Café, The Tavern with the oldest beer license in the area, and the gift and Rock Shop. Multi-media exhibitions delve into the estate’s cultural history and the cable car installation, as well as playgrounds, walks, and gardens to enjoy showcasing the natural beauty of the area.

The Heights of Abraham

The Heights of Abraham has much to celebrate this year; its dual anniversaries will be marked by stunning new lighting effects in the Great Masson Cavern, new exhibition displays, and a programme of seasonal and celebratory events throughout 2024 including concerts, live actors, and themed historic events.

Welcoming visitors and their canine companions, the attraction promises a memorable experience for all, cementing its place in the heart of Derbyshire’s tourist landscape.

The season opened with a Chinese New Year themed half term week and a dancing dragon display, adding to the theatre of the opening day on 10th February, with fortune cookies and lanterns galore! (the themed opening week runs until 18th February).

Save the Date: Key Events in 2024 at The Heights of Abraham 

Derbyshire Half Term: 17th – 25th February
Easter HolidaysA Day Out Fit for a Prince or Princess and Easter Egg Hunt: 30th March 30th – 2nd April 
Cable Cars 40th anniversary Party Day: 21st April
Victorian Weekend with living actors and live musicians: 6th – 8th May
May Live Music Weekend – 18th – 19th May
Punch & Judy Show – summer holidays, 20th July – 1st September
Halloween Fun – October half term (w/c 10th and 17th)
Diwali Celebration of Light: 1st – 3rd November

For more information, see their What’s On page here.

Your Cable Car ticket gives you access to the entire Estate and all attractions, including special events.

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.

The Heights of Abraham, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, DE4 3NT