Fun day out at the Heights of Abraham
24th August 2018
The Heights of Abraham is a unique attraction a few miles from Darwin Forest Country Park. Who would expect to be able to ride a cable car to enjoy spectacular views in the heart of Derbyshire?
The Heights of Abraham is in Matlock Bath, itself a tourist attraction for many years. Matlock Bath became famous as a spa town in the 1800s and is nestled between sheer cliff faces, the river Derwent and a steep hillside. The roadside ‘promenade’ is filled with traditional seaside attractions including fish and chip shops and amusement arcades. But it also boasts a number of picturesque walks, tourist attractions and is the gateway to the World Heritage site that encompasses the famous Arkwright Mills that started the Industrial Revolution.
The most spectacular views over Matlock Bath and the Derbyshire Dales can be found by climbing aboard one of the cable cars that will carry you to the top of Masson hillside. (For those with a fear of heights you can choose to walk up the steep footpath!). The cable cars were opened in 1984 and were the first alpine cable car in Britain. The route is 568 metres (1,864 ft) long and climbs 169 metres (554 ft).
Climbing aboard the cable car always creates great excitement in our family. As you begin to climb high above the train tracks, river and road we always have great fun trying to spot our car in the car park, what colour boats the canoeist are in, if there are any climbers on high tor, can we see the Pirate ship at Gulliver’s Kingdom and can we see our house!
As you arrive at the top you are always greeted by friendly staff and in the spring time an abundance of daffodils. You then have to make a decision – where to go first! In our case, it is always the Woodland Adventure playground.
The Woodland Adventure playground is fantastic for children of all ages with lots of bridges, climbing walls, and slides to keep them occupied whilst the parents can sit and admire the view. This area also boasts two amazing slides that use the natural landscape to create ‘the best slide ever!’ There is also another children’s play area at the top of the park, which is more suitable for younger children and provides great views towards Riber castle. If you can drag the children away from either of the playgrounds, there is lots more to explore including the caves.
Tours of Masson Cavern run throughout the day. The guides provide a fun and educational tour that the whole family will enjoy. You can experience first hand the spectacular cavern system as it winds its way deep underground and into the hillside. As you walk into the cave on the narrow footpath you begin to realize how hard the working conditions must have been for the miners. As the cave footpath then opens up into a cavern, your tour guide tells you about the history of Masson Cavern, how it came to be formed, about the families that owned and worked in the caves and about the lead they were mining.
It is then a 5 minute walk through the cavern system before you reach the next big opening. Here you will learn about how the caves became a tourist attraction. Visitors would pay a miner to lower them down into the cavern, they would then have to keep paying for candles so that they could see where they were going before having to pay double the entry fee to the miner before he would take them back out! You then start to climb up the first set of steps where you hear about the stark reality of working in the mine and how the dangerous conditions took many young lives. It is then time to climb up the 80 steps that take you back up the hillside where you will exit the cave to the most spectacular views.
As you emerge from the cave you can now walk to the Tinker's Shaft viewing platform, high above the Derwent Valley and near the exit from the Great Masson Cavern. Interpretative panels provide information on the importance of the site, the natural history, the geology and the labyrinth of lead mines below Tinker's Shaft... directly beneath your feet! You can also sit on the hillside and simply take in one of the best views in Derbyshire, where you can see the dramatic landscape unfold before you as you look over the valley towards Riber Castle.
There are also several other fascinating buildings to explore onsite including the Mason Pavilion featuring a great collection of photography and Through the Lens where you can watch a film about building the cable cars and take a virtual tour of the Great Masson Cavern which is ideal for those who can't or don't want to go underground.
There is also the Long View and the Fossil Factory where you can see and hear the 230 year story about why the Heights of Abraham estate has been a favourite place to visit for many generations.
The Victoria Prospect Tower was built in 1844 to celebrate Queen Victoria's reign. The tower is seen as a local landmark, but today visitors to The Heights of Abraham can climb to the top and enjoy panoramic views of the Derwent Valley.
After all the exploring you can relax in the Vista café and enjoy a delicious selection of hot and cold food. Sit on the balcony enjoying your lunch alfresco and take in what are arguably the best views from any restaurant in the UK.
The Heights of Abraham really does offer something for all the family and provides a great day out. The ride on the cable car ensures this attraction will remain as a family holiday memory for years to come but the amount there is to see and do once you reach the summit means you will have a great value day out.
Don’t forget that Pinelodge Holidays offers our guests discounted entry tickets to the Heights of Abraham. Ask at reception for further information.
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