Peak District walk around Matlock Bath, Derbyshire

Matlock Bath seems an unlikely place to go for a walk, but in fact the gorge carved out here by the River Derwent offers an excellent little circuit with a number of interesting sights along the way. A short distance but a lot of ascent and descent involved!

Matlock Bath Circuit

 Matlock Bath Circuit

Difficulty level: 2  (1 to 5 scale - 1 is easy)
Distance: 8.00 km    Ascent: 200m
Estimated time: 2:30 hours
Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 map sheet(s): 119

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At first sight Matlock Bath seems an unlikely place to go for a walk, but in fact the gorge carved out here by the River Derwent offers an excellent little circuit with a number of interesting sights along the way. Nor is this walk to be underestimated - what it lacks in length it makes up for in ascent and descent!

The Pavilion Matlock Bath
The Pavilion Matlock Bath
The walk starts from the Pavilion building which houses the Lead Mining Museum, and has a car park nearby, though you could start from several other places along the route, including Matlock Bath station.

Cross the road from the Pavilion and start up Temple Road, which ascends the hill almost opposite. Don't follow the road far though - just before Temple Mine a path climbs steeply up the hillside, passing along the side of Gulliver's Kingdom, the theme park which covers a section of the hillside here.

The path climbs up through trees to reach a small road which contours around the hillside. Turn right and follow it northwards admiring the fine views across the Derwent gorge and Matlock Bath. After about 400 metres you reach some woods on the upper side of the road and another path ascends the hillside along the edge of the wood, while the road continues around the hillside to the entrance to the Heights of Abraham.

Your choice of route here depends upon whether you want to pay an entrance fee for the Heights of Abraham. If you do, then you can visit the Rutland Cavern and the Masson Cavern and rejoin the route on exiting from the latter cave above the Heights. If not, then turn left and climb the hill up the path which climbs steeply up through the woods, passing the entrance to the old Devonshire Mine a short way above the road.

At the top of the climb you reach a junction of several paths on the edge of the wood, and you should turn sharp right to follow another path which contours around the hillside through a fine beech wood before finally emerging on the hillside above the Heights of Abraham - the point at which you would rejoin the route if you visit the Heights.

High Tor and Riber Castle view
High Tor and Riber Castle view
Ignoring the path which climbs the hill behind the Heights, follow another path which descends diagonally across a field giving a magnificent view across to High Tor and Riber Castle, with Matlock coming into view ahead of you as you descend. The path heads for Masson Farm and then passes it on the uphill side before descending a slippery section alongside a high wall to reach the top of St John's Road.

Walk down the road to the A6 in the gorge below, passing the strange little Victorian chapel of St John's and admiring the excellent views you obtain on the way down. At the bottom the A6 is a busy, dirty main road and between it and the River Derwent is the so-called Artists Corner, where a car park offers an alternative starting point.

Walk upstream along the roadside for perhaps 200 metres to a bridge over the river, and cross it, with relief at escaping from the busy road. The bridge leads to a path which crosses beneath the railway and through a small wood to reach the end of a cul-de-sac, and on your right you will see the entrance to the High Tor gardens.

Enter the gardens and walk up to the top of High Tor, a distance of nearly a kilometre, following the edge all the way. The position at the top is very impressive and the unfenced edge quite alarming in view of the tremendous drop below. It's a splendid viewpoint but not a place for unescorted small children!

Beyond the summit the path descends through a small wood with occasional glimpses of Matlock Bath on the opposite bank. At the bottom of the descent you pass the terminus of the cable car which runs up to the Heights of Abraham and the path continues along a track to Matlock Bath railway station.

The best way through the station is not to walk under the railway but pass along its east side and cross the walkway at the far end of the platform. You should then head for a path which starts from the far end of the station car park, near to the river (don't take the road out of the station across the Derwent), which has a hand-written sign saying it is not suitable for disabled people.

High Tor and Matlock Bath from Lovers Walk
High Tor and Matlock Bath from Lovers Walk
This is Lovers' Walk, a narrow path which passes along the top of a wood above a series of small cliffs overlooking the river. It's quite pretty in places, with good views across towards Matlock Bath and the Heights of Abraham and it leads after about a kilometre to Wildcat crags, where you should take the main path which descends through the woods to the river. Notice on the opposite bank here the outflow of spa water from the New Bath Hotel - it is warm and 'steams' in winter and has left a calcite deposit on the bank of the river.

A hundred metres upriver a fine steel footbridge (not marked on the OS maps) crosses to the other bank and the path leads shortly back to the starting point.

1:25,000 scale maps: The Outdoor Leisure 24 - White Peak covers this walk and offers a larger scale than the Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 Landranger maps

See start location on Streetmap.co.uk
 
Matlock Bath Circuit Photo Gallery - click on the images to enlarge- Click Here for a slide show
River Derwent at Matlock Bath
0 - River Derwent at Matlock Bath
Matlock Bath
1 - Matlock Bath
Matlock Bath from above the Temple Hotel
2 - Matlock Bath from above the Temple Hotel
The Pavilion at Matlock Bath
3 - The Pavilion at Matlock Bath
High Tor and Riber Castle from across the valley
4 - High Tor and Riber Castle from across the valley
High Tor
5 - High Tor
Matlock from High Tor
6 - Matlock from High Tor
Matlock Bath and High Tor
7 - Matlock Bath and High Tor
Matlock Bath from High Tor
8 - Matlock Bath from High Tor


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