Okay, so we admit it, a couple of ideas here take 70 minutes, but we reckon they are worth those extra minutes. The recommendations below make for a full day out… and some good choices for wet weather days. For those in need of a city fix, jump on the train to Manchester (40 minutes) or head into Sheffield (35 minutes). Both cities are cultural hubs for their regions and proud of their heritage.
50 minutes – in Matlock Bath.
An adventure theme park suitable for kids under 12 – not suitable if it is raining.
Our Verdict: If your kids are really craving a fix of popcorn, candy and rides – then this place is fun if a bit tired. But children under the age of 8 will adore it – those older might be restless for bigger rides. Our two children (5 and 6) think it is the best place ever.
MATLOCK BATH / THE HEIGHTS OF ABRAHAM
50 minutes – in Matlock Bath.
The Derwent Valley in 1700 became a popular attraction after the discovery of thermal water and the allure of the supposed healing properties encouraging adventurous visitors to make the journey. As access and accommodation improved the area developed into a spa and became known as Matlock Bath. High above the valley, on Masson hillside, lead mining had been active for centuries but when the estate, now known as The Heights of Abraham, was formed the new visitors to Matlock Bath provided another source of income and some of the miners became cave guides. Discover more at The Long View exhibition… after a ride up in the cable car to the top.
Our Verdict: A fascinating day out for all the family – the kids will love the cable car ride and there is plenty of stuff to do and discover at the top – plus a restaurant.
ILAM PARK, DOVEDALE, TISSINGTON AND THE WHITE PEAK
50 minutes’ drive and a super day-out for all the family…
Head to Dovedale and walk across the famous stepping stones (the children will love it!), continue walking up Dovedale or loop back to the car park and on to Ilam Park (National Trust). The tiny church in Ilam is the final resting place for St Bertram. Ilam has been a place of pilgrimage since the days of St Bertram, a Saxon saint and hermit who lived here, and today there are more ‘pilgrims’ (in the form of tourists) than ever. The saint was a Saxon prince of Mercia who travelled to Ireland to marry an Irish princess. On their way back to Mercia she had a child and they rested in the forest here while Bertram went off to seek food. When he returned he discovered that wolves had killed both his wife and child and, broken-hearted, he lived as a hermit around here for the rest of his life. The walking and views around the park are magical.
A few minutes’ drive away from Dovedale is Tissington, an estate village centred on an elegant Jacobean Manor, home of the Fitzherberts. Tissington is one of the prettiest and most unspoilt villages not only in Derbyshire but in the whole of the country. A lovely place to wander around – good tea-shops and an old-fashioned sweet shop plus antique knick-knacks.
THE TISSINGTON TRAIL
A terrific 13 mile trail for cycling or walking with sweeping views over the rolling green dales of the White Peak. (50 minutes’ drive from The Gathering). Cycle hire available at either end (Ashbourne, Mapleton Lane) or Parsley Hay (off A515 near Hartington).
THE YORKSHIRE SCULPTURE PARK
1 hr 10 mins West Bretton, Wakefield, West Yorkshire WF4 4LG. T: 01924 832631
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is an open-air gallery in Yorkshire, England, showing work by British and international artists, including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. The park’s collection of works by Moore is one of the largest open-air displays of his bronzes in Europe. The park occupies the parkland of Bretton Hall near the village of West Bretton in Wakefield District, and straddles the border of West Yorkshire and South Yorkshire.
Our Verdict: A super place for the family but avoid if the weather is pants! Great space for the kids to run around and clamber on many of the sculptures.
HISTORICAL DAYS OUT IN SHEFFIELD’S INDUSTRIAL MUSEUMS
For those in need of slice of history: Sheffield Industrial Museums, three unique sites across Sheffield, showcase Sheffield’s industrial story from early industrialisation to modern times, where ‘Made in Sheffield’ remains a mark of craftsmanship and quality known worldwide.
Visit: Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet; Kelham Island Museum; Shepherd Wheel Workshop.
1 hr 10 mins Doe Lea, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S44 5QJ. T: 01246 850430
An Elizabethan masterpiece built by Bess of Hardwick in the 1500’s filled with tragedy and incredible art. Run by the National Trust.
Our Verdict: A great day out for all the family – with an incredible tragic story to discover
MAGNA SCIENCE ADVENTURE
1 hr 10 mins Sheffield Road, Rotherham S60 1DX http://www.visitmagna.co.uk/
The ‘Steel, Peech and Tozer’ works produced 18 million tonnes of steel a year and employed 10,000 people in its heyday. It stood at the heart of the booming Sheffield steel industry.
Now the colossal former steelworks, has been transformed into Magna, a science adventure space, packed with interactive exhibits and fascinating displays exploring the wonders of science and the laws of nature: splash in water, operate real JCBs in Earth, watch a tornado made of fire and even explode a rock face! Low lighting and sound effects echo the industrial heritage to give you a feel of the the UK steelmaking industry as you wander around the exhibits and original machinery. Outside Sci-Tek is one of the largest outdoor playgrounds in the UK. And, in warmer weather, there’s an extra wet play area called AQUA-TEK (take your own towel!).
Our Verdict: An extraordinary educational visitor attraction, appealing primarily to children but the sheer scope and transformation of this disused steel mill, and its brilliant use of space, cannot help but wow grown-ups. A great day out come rain or shine – and a good place to end the holiday if you are driving back via the M1 – it is just 1 mile from the exit!