This East Midlands county is mostly known for being home to one of England’s most loved and most national parks which takes up a large portion of the beautiful county. Here you’ll find some of the country’s most romantic and evocative scenery, with landscapes mostly either verdant green rolling valleys, bare mottled-brown hilltops or atmospheric moorlands. Throw in handfuls of pretty historic villages, fine stately homes, traditional pubs and quaint teahouses and you have one enticing county indeed. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Derbyshire…
Castleton – one of the prettiest villages to visit in Derbyshire
Castleton is considered to be Derbyshire’s most charming village, located as it is at the end of Hope Valley and surrounded by beautiful cave systems. The main road is full of fabulous boutiques, antique shops, cafes and pubs, with the stream of Peakshole Water running through it.
From here you visit the ruins of Peveril Castle, explore Peak Cavern and take a boat through Speedwell Cavern. Further afield is the Treak Cliff Cavern and the Blue John Cavern where the famous stone is mined. If you’re feeling energetic, you can climb Mam Tor for panoramic views of the valley that envelops Castleton.
Peak District National Park – one of the most beautiful places to visit in the UK
The undeniable jewel in the crown of Derbyshire is the wonderful Peak District National Park. It is 555 square miles of beauty where you can pretty much go anywhere and fall in love with it. Not only is it a perfect place to walk or take photographs, but it’s also the ideal location for many fun outdoor activities.
The abundance of countryside, limestone cliffs, and rivers means you can go camping, biking, kayaking, climbing, bouldering, wild swimming, and trail running all over the park. It is also a great place to see birds of prey hunting over the hills. A bearded vulture came to visit in the summer of 2020 so you never know what you might find!.
Hardwick Hall and Gardens – a stunning Elizabethan country house to explore in Derbyshire
The National Trust’s Hardwick Hall estate is based around an Elizabethan country house. It has a beautiful courtyard garden with hidden crevices that are calling out to be explored.
The original owner of the hall was ‘Bess of Hardwick’ and it has been used by her family and shaped by the people who worked for her ever since. The property is widely regarded as one of Britain’s greatest Elizabethan houses as a result. Pretty small villages surround Hardwick Hall so it’s also an excellent place to experience rural life in Derbyshire. Easily one of the best places to visit in Derbyshire.
River Lathkill – one of the most impressive and popular tourist attractions in Derbyshire
The River Lathkill is the lifeblood of the Peak District National Park and an attraction in itself. Roughly translated it means ‘narrow valley with a barn’. It starts behind Monyash village and winds past limestone cliffs and woodlands. A highlight is the moss-covered fairy waterfall of Tufa Dam.
The river attracts a host of wildlife, including ducks, herons, wagtails, dippers and coots. With the water being so clear, you can see the fish swimming alongside you too. It is a great starting point for many walks and from here you can visit the Neolithic henge monument of Arbor Low.
Dovedale – a renowned beauty spot to visit in Derbyshire
Picturesque Dovedale is a stretch of the River Dove, surrounded by limestone ravines. It runs for three miles from Milldale to Thorpe Cloud, covering ancient ash woodland and wildflower-rich grassland as well as the river valley.
One of the most famous parts of Dovedale is the picturesque stepping stones over the river. It’s not surprising that Dovedale has the nickname ‘princess of rivers.’
Matlock Bath – developed as one of the country’s first tourist destinations
Matlock Bath is another of Derbyshire’s most wonderful villages. Next to the town of Matlock, it is set in the delightful River Derwent gorge. It’s been popular with tourists since the 17th Century when its spa waters were discovered. It peaked in Victorian times when the poet Lord Byron extolled its virtues by labelling it ‘Little Switzerland’.
There is much to do including the Peak District mining museum, the Great Masson Cavern, and the Great Rutland Cavern. From September to October every year, the Matlock Bath Illuminations light up the river and the cliffs, keeping festive visitors entranced. For those who want a bird’s eye view of the area, take a cable car to The Heights of Abraham.
Chatsworth House – one of the finest stately homes in the country
The estate of Chatsworth House is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and located on the banks of the River Derwent. Inside the house are 30 rooms that are open to the public including the chapel, staterooms, and a sculpture gallery full of important artworks. On the grounds, there are beautiful gardens and fountains, a walk to a waterfall, a farm with demonstrations, and a play area for kids. In the parkland are two herds of red and fallow deer that can be seen rutting to secure a mate in the autumn.
There’s always a lot going on in Chatsworth, throughout the year it hosts horse trials, country fairs, balloon festivals, and Christmas markets. In the winter season, the windows are decorated with festive scenes to get visitors into the Christmas spirit. Definitely one of the most beautiful places to visit in Derbyshire.
Crich Tramway Village – one of the best places to visit in Derbyshire for history lovers
A journey through Crich Tramway Village means travelling back in time. Here you can find The National Tramway Museum where visitors can ride vintage trams through a period street and imagine another century. As well as the exhibitions, the trams are renovated right in front of your eyes in the workshop on-site.
There is a traditional-style pub, tearooms, and shops to visit too. For those who want to extend their trip, there is a woodland walk and sculpture trail to explore. The nearby village of Crich has even more pubs as well as a lovely green with countryside views and a war memorial.
Bolsover Castle – a stunning place to explore in Derbyshire
For sweeping views of the Derbyshire countryside, visit Bolsover Castle near Chesterfield. Set on a hilltop, the castle was built to entertain guests in the 17th-Century. Inside are elaborate paintings, marble fireplaces and opulent decoration to suit the lavishness of the parties once held here.
Attached is a fountain garden, the ruins of extra terraces, and a riding school. William Cavendish trained horses here so there are regular displays of Cavalier horsemanship that visitors can watch. There is also a mini castle play area for kids to create their own ancient universe.
Markeaton Park – one of the most visited parks and popular attractions in Derbyshire
Markeaton Park is the most visited park in Derby and it is such a pretty space that it won a Green Flag Award. The park is a part of the history of Derby, dating back to the medieval period and it was previously owned by the Mundy family.
Markeaton Park is a great recreational area and it has a skate park, BMX tracks, an outdoor gym, tennis courts, bowls, golf, a football field, and a kids play area. For the less active, there is a craft village where local handicrafters sell their wares and there is a cafe too.
Hopton Hall Gardens – gorgeous gardens to explore in Derbyshire
One of the best times of year to visit Hopton Hall gardens is early spring when the snowdrops start to pop out. The hall was built in the 18th-century and still has its perfectly manicured gardens.
While the estate is so big that it has its own lake, the hall is also close to the impressive reservoir of Carsington Water. A circular walk around the reservoir is about 8.5 miles in total. The area is great for swimming, cycling, and golf too. It’s a stone’s throw from the villages of Hopton and Carsington so they’re worth a visit if you want to extend your trip.
Darley Park – a popular beauty spot to explore in Derbyshire
Derby’s Darley Park is north of the city centre and located on the banks of the River Derwent. It is 80 acres of parkland that also serves as a gateway to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
So whether it’s history you’re looking for, or just somewhere to stroll, Darley Park is the urban escape that you’re looking for. It’s also a brilliant setting for people-watching and a picnic
Buxton – a historic spa town which is home to gorgeous architecture
The spa town of Buxton is one of Derbyshire’s most beloved landmarks, and it is not hard to see why when you visit. Buxton has a gorgeous Opera House that attracts performers from around the world, the charming Pavilion Gardens park with its own miniature railway and a public fountain of St. Anne’s Well to drink its famous water.
In 2020, the Crescent was reopened, a Grade-I-listed building in the style of the one in Bath that is now a hotel, spa and restaurant. A short walk from town is the vantage point of Solomon’s Temple and the limestone cave systems of Poole’s cavern. Every year it hosts the Buxton Festival and the Buxton Festival Fringe with brilliant shows in the towns loveliest venues.
Linacre Reservoirs – a place to explore ancient woodlands and wildlife
Three bodies of water make up the Linacre Reservoirs, which were built between 1855 and 1904 to store water. Trails crisscross around the reservoirs that are surrounded by woodlands and fields.
The full loop of the reservoirs is 2.9 miles. In the springtime the ground is carpeted with bluebells and it’s a great place for spotting wildlife like kingfishers and woodpeckers.
Black Rocks – a weathered outcrop of Ashover grit
The gritstone outcrop of Black Rocks is a wonderful climb to be rewarded with stunning views of some of Derbyshire’s most impressive landscapes.
From here you can access many walks, including the High Peak Trail and Sheep Pasture Top. From that vantage point, you can see Matlock Gorge, Cromford as well as the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Black Rocks used to be mined for lead which means that interesting plant life grows in the conditions there.
Written by blogger Jennifer Sizeland.