As the nights draw in and Christmas seems closer by the minute, it’s time to start on my England autumn & winter 2022 series. I’ve been quite busy over the last few months so this series will last a little while. And to start, we’re heading to The Peak District – one of the best areas in England for walking (in my opinion second only to The Lake District). Given I live 2hrs from the Peaks but 5 from the Lakes, the Peaks makes a perfect weekend break for me.
I’ve been to the Peak District 3 times in the last 2 years, and each time I seem to discover a beautiful walk in stunning weather with glorious views. You can check out my other visits in these posts:
This time around I got the chance to stay at one of the most beautiful cottages in the East of the Peaks – One Church Street in Tansley, right next door to one of the most famous towns in the Peak District, Matlock. The accommodation was a gorgeous cottage which was cosy, warm and beautifully appointed. I couldn’t resist the chance for another trip to the area so I invited my Mum and Dad along, and the three of us went for an Autumnal weekend in this beautiful area of England.
Location: You start the hike in the town of Matlock – park in any of the public car parks available.
Hike distance and time: The full round loop is 6 miles (10km) long, and there are a number of quite steep climbs so you need to be of moderate fitness. Overall the hike took us 5hrs, but that was with a food stop and lots of photo stops.
Terrain: Very hilly, lots of hard ups and downs. The ground can also get very muddy and slippery so it’s important to wear proper hiking shoes.
You can follow the route we did HERE.
A. Matlock to High Tor
The first section of the walk takes you from Matlock up to High Tor, one of the most beautiful viewpoints of the day. Start off with a nice breakfast in one of Matlock’s lovely cafes, before heading out of the town through Hall Leys Park and Knowleston Gardens, before arriving at Pic Tor.
Walk along the river, and loop up to the War Memorial if you’d like to, or save yourself the climb and continue on round following the signs to the High Tor recreation grounds. Be sure to pause on the way up, and a-top, High Tor for the wonderful views.
B. High Tor to Matlock Bath & Lover’s Walks
From High Tor, exit in the opposite direction to which you arrived, snaking down the woodland trail until you reach Matlock Bath. Matlock Bath is a beautiful little village with the River Derwent passing through it. It was in its prime during Victorian times, when its spa waters and scenery made it one of Britain’s first tourist destinations. Lord Byron even went as far as to call it ‘Little Switzerland’.
Whilst in Matlock Bath, we added 2 miles on to our walking route to circle Lover’s Walks, which are accessed through the woodland across the river. We followed the paths upwards to the top, and then came back down again. The views at the top were my favourite of the whole walk.
C. Matlock Bath to Heights of Abraham
Leave Matlock Bath by following the signs to Gulliver’s Kingdom (I can’t think of anything worse than an overpriced children’s adventure park tourist trap, but I shouldn’t judge as I haven’t been – now’s your time to stop there if you fancy it). Once you arrive at the entrance of the attraction, take the steps to the right just before you reach the entrance queue.
Now comes the hardest climb of the walk, right up to the top – just keep going until you reach a road, and then turn left, following the signs of the Derwent Valley trail through a couple of fields until you reach a wood.
Entering the wood, follow the sign to Matlock (the furthest left path) and you will eventually enter the Heights of Abraham Grounds. There is a cable car up to the Heights from Matlock Bath, but where is the fun in that! This is a main tourist attraction so is a good spot for drinks or some food – and if you want to explore the Victorian tower, visit the exhibition, or head underground in to one of the caverns, then it’s a great opportunity to do so.
D. Heights of Abraham to St John the Baptist’s Church
Exit the Heights of Abraham (not via the cable car) and head straight down through the fields back down towards Matlock. You’ll come out on a road with the Cliffe House Estate on your right – follow the road leftwards and downhill until you reach the beautiful St John the Baptist Church.
E. St John the Baptist’s Church to Matlock
From the church you could walk straight along the road in to Matlock, but then you miss the views. Instead, fork left up a path running in between a wall and some woodland, and follow it round. You’ll wind around a few bends and open fields, and then the path will open out with a view of Matlock in front of you. Just keep walking until you’re back in the town.
And after all of that, maybe even treat yourself to more food and a drink. We decided instead to stock up at the little M&S there so we could cook in our beautiful cottage. We had a lovely evening of relaxing, cooking, and doing our daily Times puzzles. Very sophisticated.
So, what do you think of this walk, and the Peak District in general? I think it’s an off the beaten track area of England not often considered by overseas visitors, but it’s truly beautiful and well worth a visit.