50 of the best family days out in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Peveril Castle Photo: English Heritage

Peveril Castle Photo: English Heritage - Credit: Archant

From castles and country parks to show caves and heritage railways, some of the best days out for families in Derbyshire


Calke Abbey

Country house estate built in 1703 and ‘frozen in time’. Visit the little-restored stables and house with state silk bed, wander the ‘faded’ walled gardens and explore 600 acres of ancient parkland. Garden, stables, restaurant and shop open daily. Ticknall DE73 7LE, 01332 863822, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/calke-abbeyHardwick Hall

Elizabethan house designed by Robert Smythson for Bess of Hardwick. Fascinating tapestries, parkland walks, fine gardens, restaurant and shop. Doe Lea, Chesterfield S44 5QW, 01246 850430, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardwick-hallKedleston Hall

Neo-classical mansion designed by Robert Adam. Home to the Curzon family since the 12th century, the Hall includes an Eastern Museum of objects acquired on Lord Curzon’s travels in Asia and while Viceroy of India (1899 to 1905). Quarndon, Derby DE22 5JH, 01332 842191, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kedleston-hallSudbury Hall

Late 17th century house, country home of the Lords Vernon, with intricate plasterwork, carvings and murals. Also home to the Museum of Childhood – a delight for adults and children alike. Sudbury, Ashbourne DE6 5HT, 01283 585305, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sudburyEyam Hall

A grit-stone Jacobean manor house, home to 11 generations of the Wright family. The stableyard Craft Centre is the perfect hub from which to explore the famous ‘Plague Village’. Eyam S32 5QW, 01433 639565, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/eyamBolsover Castle

Of Norman origin, but rebuilt and enlarged in 1612. Wander the Little Castle, visit the ‘ruined’ Terrace Range, stroll the restored wall walk and discover the extensive grounds, play area and exhibition. Cavalier Horsemanship displays on selected dates. English Heritage, Bolsover S44 6PR, 0870 333 1181, www.english-heritage.org.ukHaddon Hall

Described as ‘the most perfect house to survive from the middle ages’. Home to the Manners family, highlights include splendid medieval kitchens, Banqueting Hall, 17th century Long Gallery and Elizabethan terraced gardens overlooking the River Wye. Bakewell DE45 1LA, 01629 812855, www.haddonhall.co.ukChatsworth House

Home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. 30 rooms to explore including the Painted Hall, State Rooms and Sculpture Gallery, 105 acres of gardens, adventure playground, shops and restaurant. Bakewell DE45 1PP, 01246 565300, www.chatsworth.orgPeveril Castle

A steep climb to the castle is rewarded by breathtaking views and the chance to see the remains of one of England’s earliest Norman fortresses. Displays in the visitor centre highlight its role in the Royal Forest of the Peak. English Heritage, Castleton S33 8WQ, 01433 620613, www.english-heritage.org.ukRenishaw Hall

Late 17th century house, in the Sitwell family for over 400 years, with Italianate gardens, vineyard and museum. Renishaw, Sheffield S21 3WB, 01246 432310, www.renishaw-hall.co.ukTissington Hall

Handsome Jacobean house with gates wrought by celebrated smith Robert Bakewell. Home to the FitzHerbert family since 1609, the Hall includes a marvellous Library and Billiard Room. Tissington, Ashbourne DE6 1RA, 01335 352200, tissingtonhall.co.ukTutbury Castle

Medieval castle largely ruined in the Civil War. Historical re-enactments throughout the year. Castle St, Tutbury DE13 9JF, 01283 812129, www.tutburycastle.comMelbourne Hall

18th century-style garden with clipped yews, fountains and Robert Bakewell’s famous Birdcage. Gardens open April-Sept, Wed-Sun and BH Mons. Hall open on selected dates in August. Melbourne DE73 8EN, 01332 862502, www.melbournehall.comOUT & ABOUT:

Buxton Pavilion Gardens

23 acres of restored Victorian pleasure gardens with regular events, play area, café and Pavilion Arts Centre. St John’s Rd, Buxton SK17 6BE, 01298 23114, www.paviliongardens.co.ukBuxton Country Park & Poole’s Cavern

Discover Poole’s Cavern and take a journey underground to explore the vast limestone cavern. Above ground, explore the beautiful country park woodlands, stroll to Grin Low and Solomon’s Temple viewpoint and try the extreme GO APE high wire tree top adventure. www.poolescavern.co.ukCarsington Water

Visitor centre, country park, watersports, cycle hire, fishing, bird hides and playground. Ashbourne DE6 1ST, 01629 540478, www.carsingtonwater.comChestnut Centre

Wildlife park involved in the rehabilitation of otters, owls, deer, wild cats and foxes. Castleton Rd, Chapel en le Frith SK23 0QS, 01298 814099, www.chestnutcentre.co.ukCreswell Crags

Limestone gorge providing an insight into life during the last Ice Age. Examples of early cave art, pre-historic tools, fascinating museum and visitor centre. Crags Rd, Welbeck S80 3LH, 01909 720378, www.creswell-crags.org.ukConkers

Indoor and outdoor experiences in the heart of the National Forest. Four family-friendly discovery zones and over 100 interactive exhibits. Swadlincote DE12 6GA, 01283 216633, www.visitconkers.comCastleton Show Caves

Travel to the Bottomless Pit by boat at Speedwell Cavern, see the largest natural cave entrance in Europe at Peak Cavern and discover the home of the famous Blue John stone at Treak Cliff Cavern. Castleton, Hope Valley S33 8WS, 01433 620679,

Denby Pottery Visitor Centre

Pottery tours, cookery demonstrations, restaurant, play area and courtyard with home, garden and gift shops. Denby DE5 8NX, 01773 740799, www.denby.co.ukGulliver’s Kingdom

Amusement park for families with children aged 2-13. Over 60 rides, attractions, shows and experiences. Matlock Bath DE4 3PG, 01925 444888, www.gulliversfun.co.uk/matlock-bathIlam Park

Beautiful views and walks, youth hostel, visitor centre, tea room and shop. National Trust, Ilam, Ashbourne DE6 2AZ, 01335 350503, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/ilamHeights of Abraham

Country park and show caverns set in 60 acres of woodland, reached by cable car with stunning views. Matlock Bath DE4 3NT, 01629 582365, www.heightsofabraham.comLea Gardens

Woodland paths and over 500 varieties of rhododendrons, azaleas and other plants, plus Tea Shop. Long Lane, Lea, nr Matlock

DE4 5GH, 01629 534380, www.leagarden.co.ukRoyal Crown Derby

Discover the history of the world-renowned English fine bone china manufacturer. Factory tours and visitor centre with shop, refreshments and museum. 194 Osmaston Rd, Derby DE23 8JZ, 01332 712833, www.royalcrownderby.co.ukMUSEUMS:

Cromford Mills

The world’s first water-powered cotton spinning mill, built by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1771. Guided tours, shops, exhibitions and new Derwent Valley Mills Heritage Site Gateway Centre. Cromford DE4 3RQ, cromfordmills.org.ukBuxton Museum & Art Gallery

Discover the geology, archaeology and history of the Peak. Collections, exhibitions and events inc. Bone Detectives Day (12th March) and a chance to meet animals that hatch (2nd April). Buxton SK17 6DA, 01629 533540, www.derbyshire.gov.ukChesterfield Museum

Explore the town’s history from its beginnings as a Roman fort to the construction of the ‘Crooked Spire’ Church. St Mary’s Gate, Chesterfield S41 7TD, 01246 345727, www.chesterfieldmuseum.co.ukCrich Tramway Village

The National Tramway Museum, vintage tram rides, play areas, tearooms, workshop and galleries. Crich DE4 5DP, 01773 854321, www.tramway.co.ukErewash Museum

18th century house with historic collections from the local area arranged in room settings and galleries – including a Victorian Schoolroom. High St, Ilkeston DE7 5JA, 0115 907 1141, www.erewashmuseum.co.ukThe Old House Museum

Early Tudor house with Victorian kitchen and displays of historical lace, embroideries, textiles and costumes. Cunningham Place, Bakewell DE45 1DD, 01629 813642, www.oldhousemuseum.org.ukDerby Museums

Three fascinating sites to explore: Derby Museum and Art Gallery, home to the largest public display of Joseph Wright paintings in the world; Pickford’s House Museum of Georgian Life; and The Silk Mill, site of the world’s first factory. Derby, 01332 641901

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Peak District Lead Mining Museum

Items from the lost local lead mining industry, rock and mineral specimens, exhibits and 1920’s Temple Mine. The Grand Pavilion, Matlock Bath DE4 3NR, 01629 583834, www.peakdistrictleadminingmuseum.co.ukRevolution House

Thatched cottage and former ale house linked to the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Old Whittington S41 9JZ, 01246 345727, www.chesterfieldmuseum.co.ukSharpe’s Pottery Museum

Discover the once-prolific pottery industry of South Derbyshire. Exhibitions, gallery and children’s zone. Swadlincote DE11 9DG, 01283 222600, www.sharpespotterymuseum.org.ukStrutt’s North Mill

Early example of an industrialised water-powered cotton spinning mill. Experiences, exhibits and tours. Belper DE56 1YD, 01773 880474, belpernorthmill.orgRAILWAYS:

Barrow Hill Roundhouse

Britain’s last surviving operational roundhouse with railway museum and special events. Chesterfield S43 2PR, 01246 472450, www.barrowhill.orgEcclesbourne Valley Railway

Travel from Wirksworth to Duffield by train, or up the incline to Ravenstor. Wirksworth Station DE4 4FB, 01629 823076, www.e-v-r.comMidland Railway Centre, Butterley

Train rides, railway museum, country park and special events. Ripley DE5 3QZ, 01773 570140, www.midlandrailway-butterley.co.ukPeak Rail, Matlock

Preserved railway with steam and diesel locomotives operating between Rowsley and Matlock. DE4 3NA, 01629 580381, www.peakrail.co.ukAND JUST OUTSIDE OF DERBYSHIRE:

Alton Towers

Belvoir Castle

DH Lawrence Birthplace Museum


Erasmus Darwin House Lichfield

Lyme Park (National Trust), Disley

National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas

National Space Centre, Leics

Trentham Monkey Forest, Staffs

Twycross Zoo, Atherstone

Wollaton Hall, Notts