Into the Peak
Matlock Bath Travel Blog› entry 43 of 44 › view all entries
It was Valentine's Day, and much in need of a trip out, my girlfriend and I decided to go out to the nearby Derbyshire Peak District. The town of Matlock is frequently visited by tourists, and famed for its lead mines. As the day was pretty, we jumped into the car, and drove the short distance to the National Park. We arrived around forty minutes later.
After parking up, we took at seat in a coffee shop, and worked out where the Heights of Abraham cable cars were to be found. We initially took a little walk through the town of Matlock, and by the river side, and later took the short stroll to Matlock Bath, so we could do the cable car trip, and see the famed mines. We past quite a few quaint little shops, and antiques stores, and soo found the cable cars. We paid the £15 fee, which incleds the cable car, and entrance to all the attractions at the top of the cliff. There was zero queue, so only a few moments later, we were enjoying the views of the valley from the cable car, in the winter sunshine.
The cable car takes a pause around half way up, where the views are the most spectacular. We joined in taking our shots, and then it carried on with the short journey. Once at the top, we first climbed the steep,spiralling staircase of the Victoria Prospect Tower for the panoramic view from the top, and then enjoyed the view from the amphitheatre.
Our timing was pretty lucky, as by the time we came down, there was a tour starting of The Great Masson Cavern. With our few minutes, we took a little wander to see what else was around, and took a couple of minutes to view the wood carved family. Granted, it was particularly average, but it did pass those few minutes. As we wandered back down, it was on into the cave. We were quite lucky to be entertained by quite a charismatic guide, who really engaged the crowd early, and guided us down into the former mine.
What shoud have been a reasonably boring tour, was actually quite entertaining. There were no stagmites, or stalagtites, or any of the features of a cave you would really hope to see, however, the lights, and the stories explained by the guide were pretty much exactly what you would want. The former lead mine, which involves climbing up a lot of steps, shouldn't be overly entertaining, however, I was engrossed in the explanations and elaborations; I was stuck in the imagination, and really enjoyed my experience.
To add to the mystique of the day, as we climbed the final flight of steps, slightly out of huff and puff, we quite literally entered a new world. As we emerged from the darkness of the cave, the bright, sunlit world we had entered into the cave from, had become a snow fuelled surround we came out to. It was similar to the a Naria scenario, and quite wonderful. We took a few photos of the now very different surrounds, as I reflected on the extreme beauty of the area, allowing such huge sceneic change in the space of a handful of minutes. God bless this beautiful country. We finalised the cave tour by seeing at Tinkers Mine Shaft, the area where the miners extracted the valable lead. It was also an area giving a lovely view of the now snowy valley.
We strolled back down to the main estate, and found our way to the indoor exhibits. We first read more about the mine we had just been in, and the surrounding Peak District Area. Following this we took a brief walk and read of the information inside the fossil factory. It was another one of those fill the gap jobs, but it certainly served its purpose. We the continued onto the Visitors Centre, where we wanted a little bit of food to bridge the gap between the moment and our Valentine's meal out. It turned out to be a fantastic little selection of tid bits, small snacks, and puddings, all presented fantastically on a plateur for us. This served with a customary pot of tea, was just the ticket. We sat, ate, and enjoyed the view of the valley all the while, until we'd finished.
It was now ticking on in the day, and with much fuller bellies, we had to get a move on down the rocky paths of stairs in order to make it to the final cave, and the final tour of the day, We did arrive with just a few minutes to spare, but enough to visit the hotel over-hanging the valley, with the big Matlock signage on show. We gathered our final few photos whilst we had the opportunity, and then joined the group for the tour.
In honesty, we were tired, and did lack some motivation for the tour, but it was interesting. The cave was far more spacious, and easier/less fun to traverse, however, it did have a far more entertaining set up to explain the mining stories. Our guide took us into the cave, and explained similar information that we'd already heard, but did switch out all the lights soon after, to reveal the darkness the minors would have actually worked in, and the artificial candle light did set the scene. The mining stories as told by an artificial minor then took over, and lights and illumination alongside the narration, made it very simple to visualise the life in the cave.
I'm of the opinion, I would have preffered to have done this cave first, and then the main area, with the other cave afterwards. It certainly wasn't a bad order the way we had done it, however, the charisma of the other cave would have given more of an adventurous follow up after the informative cave. With the order set, and done, it was the end of the tour, and time to go home. We climbed back up the steps to the cable car, and made our way down to the riverside in one of the final rides of the day. We strolled quickly to the car, as time wasn't on our side for our reservation, and considered the day. We got back to the car in a good sense of cheer, and drove back to Nottingham hastily. It had been a fantastic use of the day, and now we had to get back, get dressed up, and enjoy a meal out in the city, with live music to enjoy during the meal. All in all, a great day.