We recently visited Derbyshire for a day, on the way back down South from a trip to see relatives in Yorkshire. So this report only covers about 24 hours in that county. We stayed in the Peak district, around the towns of Buxton and Matlock. While I remember - avoid Chesterfield if you are trying to get from the Peak District to the M1 motorway. We were stuck there in a traffic jam for half an hour.

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The Heights of Abraham

We first visited the Heights of Abraham at Matlock Bath. This is a cliff overlooking the town. We rode the cable car to get to the top. It is well worth a visit. The view at the top is spectacular and there are a couple of caves to go into. The visitors' shop has some interesting fossils, minerals and stones to see and buy.


From Matlock Bath we went through Matlock itself and Bakewell before stopping in Buxton. This is a spa town, similar, though on a less grand scale, to Bath. You could spend several hours looking around Buxton. Visit the pavilion, with its indoor garden of heavily-scented flowers. This is an especially good idea if it rains, as it did when we were there. We visited the Information Centre and got them to book us into a bed-and-breakfast place. This was a few miles outside Buxton, at Tideswell near to Castleton, where we wanted to visit the next day. The bed and breakfast place was a treasure of a find. We had a family room for £50 per night in what used to be a milking parlour, before it was so beautifully converted to 2 large downstairs guestrooms, with the owner and her family living upstairs. The fixtures and fittings were gorgeous with those little touches that set this place above similar B & Bs. We ate dinner in the local pub and the food there, as well as at the B & B at breakfast time, was excellent.

Blue John mines

The following day we went to Castleton, to visit one of the famous caves there, the Treak Cliff Cavern, a wonderful place to visit, but make sure you leave your stiletto heels at home. There are fine examples of stalactites and stalagmites in the cavern, as well as the Blue John mineral, from which jewellery and other objects are manufactured locally. The name "Blue John" probably derives from a French description of the stone; "Bleu & Jaune" (Blue & Yellow). The mineral is coloured quartz, which was probably formed when molten quartz was thrust up into the crust by volcanic activity and mixed with oil, while still molten. By the way, you can remember which way stalactites and stalagmites grow by the phrases given in the sidebox.


We finally drove the scenic route, past Mam Tor and the Speedwell Cavern towards Chapel-en-le-Frith. It was a lovely day, and we only wished that we could have stayed longer. There are some beautiful walks and tours in that part of England and we will certainly go back there again, and stay at the Courtyard Barn again.

Sue - June 1999

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