My brother and his family live in Matlock, which is a pretty small town (either way you read that) in the Peak District. They invited both my family and my parents to visit; we stayed in a house near theirs.


We all took the train to the even prettier and smaller nearby town of Cromford. To start with, we walked around by the river and the bottom of the cliff.

Main road bridge.
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Stream running into the river.
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Rocks in the cliff...
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...and a tree in the cliff.
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We had lunch in a café, then set off toward Cromford‘s main attraction, the historic mills (which I've visited before). Bizarrely, these were occupied by a Dalek (and lots of other SF characters) because there was a Comicon in progress.

After one of the party ditched us for that event, we crossed to the canal basin - next to which was, I don‘t know why, a model railway exhibition. It‘s all go in Cromford. After looking at that we took a short walk down the canal to see the dinosaur before finishing the day in another café.

White house with interesting windowsill.
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Gateway by the end of the canal.
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View from canal towards railway line.
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Presumably some kind of crane, by the end of the canal.
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I woke up in the middle of the night and took a picture out of the window. Matlock‘s crane (folded up for the night) was visible from almost everywhere in the town, although it was due to leave shortly after us.

View over Matlock with yellow crane.
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Our idea of a high-effort day with a three-year-old was if we maybe make it to a Costa, but my brother is made of sterner stuff, and leads countryside walks for the local toddlers (with their parents, he‘s not a complete idiot). This one was to Matlock Bath. It‘s not very far but there is a big hill in the way.

Looking back along a lane.
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Through a gate into the mist.
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Interesting light deep in the woods.
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In Matlock Bath we visited the mining museum, which has lots of small tunnels you can climb up/down (for children disappointed by the sad lack of chimney-based employment opportunities).

This is not a climbable bit. Might be an actual chimney.
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View out of bedroom window at a barn.
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We took a short walk around and near the town on our own.

Sign for carpet shop.
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Crane (unfolded), wall, and view over Matlock.
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Building and garden walls, and another town view.
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Somebody‘s back yard.
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Looking down from Matlock bridge.
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I joined my parents for an evening walk, abandoning the rest of my family. We walked across town and (on roads) up the hill on the other side.

Red fence and car; post delivery office.
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Rectangular gateway (open).
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Arched gateway (closed).
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There used to be a cable-powered tramway to make it easier to get up the fairly steep street, but we just had to walk.

Part of the tramway depot; remnants of its chimney stack behind.
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The attraction at the top of the tramway (not the top of the hill; we walked a little further up) was the ‘hydropathic hotel‘, which is now the headquarters of Derbyshire county council.

Tall chimney.
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View of distant Riber Castle.
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The Hydro chimney again with fancy rooftop ironwork, and cables.
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Two-storey bridge between buildings! Nice.
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Final view of that chimney.
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Yellow railing next to the cop shop.
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There is a preserved railway from Matlock; it continues a few stops after the real railway ends. Would be more useful if they hadn’t got rid of it in the first place, but on the flip side: our son’s first trip on a steam train! (He wasn’t all that bothered.)

Looking back at the engine.
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The train stopped so the engine could run round to the front.
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Very nice red paint on this sign.
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The 1960s BR logo is much better, but this ‘on drugs’ version is entertaining, I mean what.
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Steam trains: probably not the cleanest mode of transport.
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From the terminus (after lunch in their quite nice café) we took a short riverside walk.

Green leaves, sunlight, water.
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Tree by river.
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Then train back.

Guard van framing a volunteer doing some painting.
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The steam engine had a hole in it.
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In the evening we went to Matlock Bath (by bus this time) for a meal out – pizza in a pub – and a short walk afterwards.

Footbridge in Matlock Bath.
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R wanted a trip to Chatsworth, which is relatively nearby: two buses, the second one being a very nice open-top job.

View from bus, near Ashford in the Water.
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View from bus, Chatsworth estate.
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We’ve visited before so this time we just did the garden, which is very nice and substantially more three-year-old-appropriate than the house.

Has some nudie statues though...
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As well as properly dressed ones.
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There is a ridiculously powerful fountain, built to impress the Czar of Russia, who then didn’t visit.

Fountain jet against clouds.
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Back of house.
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It’s not visible at this size but the house has gold lettering near the roof: ‘Cavendo Tutus’, which is Latin for ‘Far too much ****ing money’.

Somebody sitting between hedges near the maze.
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Tree roots.
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Dead tree that looks like a rabbit.
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Door under the grotto.
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Building at top of the cascade.
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On our last day we visited Bakewell, where we neglected to eat a Bakewell tart.

Tall rounded window with clear, blue, red, and boarded-up sections.
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Nicely painted doors.
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We went to the ‘Old House Museum’, which is great and has (toy) rats you can try to spot in all the rooms.

View through window into garden, some interesting panes.
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Is there anything about this doll that isn’t creepy?
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View through rain toward church.
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Bakewell church, looking slightly ominous.
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In the evening we got a takeaway meal and, later, R and I took a walk around nearby parts of Matlock.

Matlock Glass.
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Church with illuminated clock.
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That’s it! The next day we were back to slightly-less-picturesque Milton Keynes.

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.