Things to do in Derbyshire with the grandchildren this summer

August is a great month for spending quality time with the grandkids

August is a great month for spending quality time with the grandkids - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The holidays are here and its time to start creating wonderful summer memories with the grandchildren

Bolsover Castle  

Bolsover Castle, in north Derbyshire, is a place that my parents, both in their seventies, have always really enjoyed taking my daughter. 

They particularly like the balance of feeling very safe but still having an exciting day out that has the added benefit of being educational.  

Lily, my daughter, loves climbing the flights of steps up to the summit to enjoy the stunning views that this part of Derbyshire has to offer.  

There’s a lovely castle-themed playground and lots of space for running around and burning off energy.  

Look out too for themed jousting and horse displays for older children which run on certain dates.  

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Bolsover Castle also benefits from a nice café and shop as well as good toilet facilities. Limited parking is available on site, so best to arrive early. English Heritage members also go free.  

There's much to keep the children entertained at Bolsover Castle this summer

There's much to keep the children entertained at Bolsover Castle this summer - Credit: Gary Wallis

Museum of Making  

The Museum of Making is a creative, engaging space to explore Derby’s rich industrial history.  

Part of the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site, the museum is housed in the Silk Mill, widely regarded as one of the world’s first modern factories. 

The museum explores the profound impact of industrialisation through a range of engaging exhibits, workshops and activities that will engage young and old alike.  

General admission to the museum is free and, like Bolsover Castle, there is a café and shop on site.  

There’s plenty of parking options in one of the city centre car parks, such as the nearby Assembly Rooms.  

Discounted parking is available if you validate your parking card at the museum, which is fully wheelchair-accessible. 

Exploring Cromford  

The home of Sir Richard Arkwright’s first mill complex, birthplace of the modern factory system and internationally recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cromford Mills has a fascinating history. 

After exploring the mill yard and the free-to-enter visitors centre, a nice option is to set off for a canal side walk.  

Cromford canal is a wildlife haven and the perfect location for a stroll or a heritage or nature walk and the section from Cromford Wharf to High Peak Junction is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.  

It’s a mile long (approximately 30 minutes’ walk) and pay and display parking is available next to the Cromford Mills site, with the revenue going towards the continued restoration of the site.  

There are two cafés, one canal side at High Peak Junction and one in the mill yard.  

You could continue the walk into Cromford itself and visit the magnificent Scarthin Book shop. Scarthin Books has a wonderful children’s room complete with an art installation and is certain to wow the children! 

Cromford is a perfect place to explore, with flat paths ideal for wheelchairs and prams

Cromford is a perfect place to explore, with flat paths ideal for wheelchairs and prams - Credit: Gary Wallis

Matlock Farm Park  

There’s farmyard fun for every age at the Visit Peak District and Tourism Awards’ Peak District Visitor Attraction of the Year.  

Expect fresh air, animals and plenty of play opportunities. There are numerous small animal handling sessions, as well as walk through wallaby encounters and meerkat talk sessions.  

Pony rides are available, at an extra charge, at weekends and in the school holidays. 

There’s various outdoor playground equipment plus a Jumping Pillow (the UK's largest - available in dry weather only) as well as an indoor play area with its own coffee shop – perfect if you’re unlucky with the unpredictable summer weather!  

There’s also a separate café and various takeaway catering options as well as picnic areas for those wishing to bring their own food. 

Look out for the over 60s special offers (discounted entry or free lunch) in term time. Pushchair friendly. No dogs except guide dogs.   

National Memorial Arboretum 

The National Memorial Arboretum is an award-winning, 150-acre visitor site on the edge of the National Forest, just over the border in Staffordshire.  

Part of the Royal British Legion, the arboretum is a special place to remember those who have served and sacrificed and celebrate lives lived and commemorate lives lost. 

There are almost 400 memorials nestled amongst some 25,000 trees, allowing children to reflect on why it’s important to remember.  

Importantly, there’s also plenty of fun to be had.  

The National Memorial Arboretum has something for all ages, from outdoor trails and riverside walks. There’s also a Stick Man Trail, a children’s wood, two play areas including a sensory play garden and a picnic area.  

Entry is free, with donations welcome. Car parking costs £6, or £4 if booked in advance. Advance booking recommended.  

Discover Melbourne  

Precious moments with the grandchildren

Precious moments with the grandchildren - Credit: Getty Images

The pretty south Derbyshire market town of Melbourne is a delightful place for a wander.  

Melbourne Pool is a picturesque spot for a walk, play in the woods and a picnic. A short distance of the paths are smooth tarmac, so perfect for pushchairs, scooters or wheelchairs.  

There are public toilets located opposite the tearoom in Melbourne Courtyard. The tearoom itself is worth a visit, or walk into the town for many more cafes and coffee shops. Tea at 3 is particularly pretty.   

In August, Melbourne Hall opens its gardens to visitors every day except Mondays (except the bank holiday when it does open). This is a wonderful place for a relaxing family day out.  

There’s also a small farmyard area where you can see beautiful varieties of chickens, pigs, pygmy goats, rare breed sheep and alpacas, miniature ponies and more.  

You can pet and feed the animals (using food bought at the entrance hut). Entrance charges apply. No picnics. Some steep slopes and uneven paths.  

Crich Tramway Village 

Why not spend a day with the grandkids by stepping back in time at Crich Tramway Village.

There’s an expansive museum of vintage trams and a recreated period village, complete with working pub, tearooms and shops. Ride the trams and soak in the scene. There’s also a nice woodland walk and play areas.  

Full priced tickets offer 12 months free return as many times as you wish (subject to a few terms and conditions).  

Under 4s are free and dogs are welcome on a lead.  


Matlock Meadows is a working dairy farm selling homemade ice cream from its traditional tearoom. 

There is a lovely spacious playground and some animals to see, both of which are free to patrons of the ice cream shop/tearoom. Free parking too.   

Church Farm Anslow is a lovely, safe petting farm with good quality play equipment and a pretty tearoom.  

Booking is encouraged in the tearoom and there is a small charge to enter the farmyard/play area. It feels clean and there are plenty of seats dotted around the play area. Free parking.  

Why not have a row out onto the Derwent in Belper?

Why not have a row out onto the Derwent in Belper? - Credit: Gary Wallis

Belper River Gardens - Park at the pay and display car park at the mill and then explore Belper’s River Gardens, all beautifully paved for easy access for pushchairs or wheelchairs.  

There’s a fairly big playground for the children to enjoy - just be aware that some of the paths are open to the water.  

Free entry, with pay and display parking starting at 50p. You can also hire rowing boats if you want to get out on the water. The new tea rooms are now open for those in need of refreshments. 

The Play Village in Ashbourne is a brand new children’s attraction focused on imaginative play.

Designed, built, and managed by parents, the village offers an experience centred around the magic of role play - where your children can let their imaginations run wild.