Photo by Gareth Williams licensed under CC
Situated in the East Midlands in the centre of England, the county of Derbyshire pulls in visitors from all over the country who come to enjoy its beautiful landscape and many historical sites. We take a look at 5 of Derbyshire's many tourist attractions.
Chatsworth House is one of Britain’s most visited historic properties, and was recently featured in the film ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Although situated in Derbyshire, confusingly, the House is home to the 12th Duke of Devonshire. This palatial country residence is open to the public all year round, giving you the chance to see how the other half live and marvel at the various works of art on display.
When you’ve finished soaking up the grandeur indoors, there’s still plenty to enjoy outside. Chatsworth’s 105-acre garden includes a maze, ponds, and various waterworks, such as the famous 300-year-old Cascade. And if all that walking wasn’t enough, you can wander further afield and explore the neighbouring 1,000-acre park, which was designed by ‘Capability’ Brown in the 1760s.
Buxton’s famous natural spring waters have pulled in the tourists since Roman times, when the first spa was established here. But it wasn’t until the late 1700s when the Duke of Devonshire decided to build the magnificent Crescent and Dome that the town really took off.
Today, Buxton’s mineral water is sold commercially throughout the UK, but visitors can fill their own bottles for free from the steady stream at St Anne’s Well. You can still also bathe in the local spa water – although only now in the local swimming pool, where chlorine has been added to comply with health and safety regulations.
This Derbyshire gem is a must-see for architecture-lovers too, with a magnificent selection of historic buildings. The town’s Old Hall Hotel is arguably the oldest hotel in the country, with parts of the building dating back to the 1500s, during which time Mary Queen of Scots stayed here.
The Peak District
No overview of Derbyshire’s tourist attractions would be complete without mentioning the beautiful Peak District, Britain’s first National Park. With its stunning landscape of hills, valleys, and rivers, the Peak District offers a wealth of options for walkers and cyclists alike.
Just one of the many great walks is the Derwent Valley Heritage Way, where you can take in the breathtaking scenery of the Derwent Valley and the rolling Derbyshire Dales. There’s also plenty here for the history buff, including Peveril Castle at Castleton, which dates back to Norman times, the mining museum at Matlock Bath, and the Derwent Valley Mills – a factory developed by Richard Arkwright in the 18th century and now a World Heritage Site.
Built by the Peverel family in the 12th century, Bolsover Castle has had a tough time over the years, receiving successive batterings from the armies of King John, and then later from the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War. Completed around 1621, the Castle’s tower is known as the 'Little Castle'.
Today’s visitor can learn about this chequered past through audio-visual displays in the visitor centre, and enjoy the castle’s many intricately carved fireplaces, and sumptuously painted walls and ceilings. From its elevated position, Bolsover also boasts fabulous panoramic views out over the Vale of Scarsdale.
The Heights of Abraham, Matlock Bath
…And if you really like being high up, maybe you should scale the Heights of Abraham at Matlock Bath. But don’t worry, you no longer have to climb the steep slopes of Masson Hill on foot: in 1984, Britain’s first Alpine-style cable car system opened here, giving you a much easier option!
After stepping on board your observation car on the valley floor, you’ll be transported comfortably and safely to the peak, enjoying stunning views out across the Derwent Valley and surrounding Peak District on the way. Once at the top, you can explore the Masson and Rutland Caverns, learning about the lives of the miners who used to work here. The Great Masson Cavern is also home to the fossilised remains of a giant Ichthyosaur, alive at the same time as the dinosaurs.