Saturday, June 9, 2012

Matlock, Matlock Bath, and High Tor.

I watched the weather forecast on TV this morning and decided I'd better stick to the eastern fringes of the Peak District; in fact, I didn't cross into the National Park at all. There's still a lot of beautiful countryside near to Matlock to be explored though.

I got off the bus and walked to the start of the Limestone Way, but only stayed along the route for a few dozen yards before taking the footpath that leads towards Matlock Bath. For about two miles I walked across wildflower meadows and woodland, with occasional views of High Tor and down into the valley.


Some of the later sections were along roads which skirt the higher parts of Matlock Bath. Along one of these roads, high up above the valley, is a rather nice decommissioned chapel, which looks more like a fairytale castle - I was particularly impressed with one of the oriel windows.


A few minutes later I passed beneath the cable cars which go up to the Heights of Abraham.

I had originally intended to visit the mill complex at Cromford today, but couldn't find either of the two paths which lead down to the village. One route seemed to lead straight along the driveway of a large private house and the other I'd identified was blocked by a field of cows and an electric fence - I assumed that this wasn't the correct way either, and so re-traced my steps until I found a damaged footpath sign lying half buried under builders' rubble in a ditch. Every possible direction was overgrown, and since everywhere was soaking wet anyhow after the recent rain, I didn't bother...I went down to Matlock Bath and had some fish and chips.

I walked south along the riverside walk for a few yards, crossed over the footbridge to the other bank, noticing how high and fast flowing the river was, and then climbed up through woodland to the clifftop path.

The views along here are really nice; to the right a scenic valley running parallel to the main valley of the River Derwent - I don't know its name, it's not marked on the map. Further along I caught sight of High Tor, which I would be climbing later. To my left there was woodland and a steep drop, but every now and then viewpoints had been created by clearing the trees and installing sturdy iron railings. The opposite bank of the River Derwent, where the attractions of Matlock Bath are situated, could be seen; right from The Pavilion in the south to the cable car system in the north.

The path gradually descended down to the main car park next to the railway station. The footpath to High Tor is well signposted; leading up through more woodland, with occasional clearings. The viewpoints here were equally as impressive, but they weren't fenced off - they aren't dangerous though; there are benches there and the locations would probably make ideal sites for a picnic.

If the weather had been more pleasant I might have lingered longer; it was cold and dark all day, with frequent drizzle, so I kept up a fairly quick pace down into Matlock, and after catching the bus, and then the train, arrived home in Doncaster in ample time to watch the football on TV.