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Sep 2017

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Not quite the Peak District, proper, but near enough since it's only five miles away by road but less than one by flying crow. It's also not to be confused with Matlock Bank or Matlock Green or Matlock Dale or Matlock Bath although, nowadays, it's all just about joined up but with a little bit of a gap to the bath.

Parking in town is best described as problematic but more on that in a minute so head for the public parking next to the big Sainsbury™s and the train station should you be shopping or spotting, or neither.

That'll add 10 minutes to your trek but doesn't distract from a little bit of Matlock magic.

Left and over the bridge, it's evident that Wetherspoon™s couldn't get their hands on the original Crown Hotel although that's something they've generally managed to do Nationwide.

Looking down on town is the former Riber Castle, which while never really a castle functioned until fairly recently as a zoo, of sorts.

There were claims of animal cruelty and it closed in 2000 with activists liberating several lynx into Lumsdale. Rumours of sightings persist today and it's a hairy drive up, they say, to what may or may not be private apartments now.

  High Tor Hotel (Dale Road, Matlock Dale)

Better than satisfactory lodgings that's more Matlock Dale, really, but still just a 15-minute trot to town.

Named after the geographical feature opposite from which people can be seen dangling most days. When it's said 'people', what's really meant is total nutjobs, actually.

Looking up Bank Road from the bottom of town, awareness is heightened further by a grand, old chimney.

Smedley's Hydro opened in 1853 when local industrialist John Smedley started to believe the benefits. He was convinced that Hydrotherapy had cured his bout of 'Spanish tummy' that had lingered longer than he would have liked after a European jaunt.

Piping in the, already well-known, water, Matlock gained spa status and them new-fangled trains helped ship 'em in. It would be nice to say that Matlock Bank was went up but it's aptly named and the lodgings had yet to be located.

No, the waters were taken later, well, mainly water with some boiled barley, yeast and hops in it.

Not that Smedley would have approved. By 1870 he was a staunch Methodist and abstemist and despite his philanthropy, he's the man behind Riber Castle, an indulgent pad for just him and the wife.

With the castle converted and Derbyshire Council now parked in the Hydro, his legacy lives on just south at Lea Mills, the branded, high-end  apparel a nod to his origins in cotton.

The River Derwent cuts through town and provides a pleasant setting for the Victorian Hall Leys Park, which in turn provides occasional flood relief from the Derwent.

Not a bandstand this, that's behind, but a tram shelter while you were waiting to go back up the bank. They ran until 1927, which is around the same time that this pair decided not to bother.

Just like the river, the bridge runs one way and has done since 2007 when there were two words... gridlock!

You're still supposed to divert north and back down Dale Road via the Sainsbury™s 'bypass' and based on today's experience, that might not be a bad idea.

  Maazi Indian Restaurant Matlock (Causeway Lane)

Tempted in by the tuk-tuk on top, it's not a promising start in this ridiculously busy restaurant but normal service is soon resumed.

That means there's plenty of time to do a double-take at a vindaloo virgin using a knife and fork to eat... a poppadom!

That might be terribly good table manners, mate, but it's not particularly practical, pal, as you dodge the flying onion.

There's more of the Victorian over the bridge and quite possibly the grandest ever entrance to a, very different kind of, Matlock bank.

Yes, this is already starting to be a struggle because Matlock's really a base, a base for the fields and hills of the Peak District and a handful of, largely industrial-themed, attractions nearby.

Come sundown, Dale Road is home to most of Matlock's fleshpots and a broad age of partakers including dreamy, dispirited youth.

One dapper young chap with a good line in patter had worked the cruise ships where he might have asked you to... 'pick a card, any card.' It's known not to be for everyone but he keeps some foam balls up his sleeve for such occasions and this pair were suitably misdirected.

He has an aura and a confidence that someone not yet out of their teens simply shouldn't and, you heard it here first, he's the new  Dynamo. Liam goes by the stage name  Laylo but he's missed a local trick...

Ladies and gentlemen... The Amazing Hydro!

  MoCa Bar (Dale Road, Old English Hotel)

Amongst the debauchery on Dale Road, this looks to be the pick of the pubs, probably.

In here with the craft beers and indie-pop artwork it was realised just how big a 'thing' gin is, these days. It was also realised that Fever-Tree™ tonic is, quite frankly, overpriced and no thanks to red peppercorns in it.

On the plus side, and outside, Laylo's magic balls.