Starting from the centre of Matlock, this 2.4 mile linear walk takes you to the popular 'inland seaside resort' of Matlock Bath via High Tor, with spectacular clifftop views throughout. The walk is fairly strenuous and passes cliff edges with steep drops, so children must be supervised at all times.
Scroll to the bottom of page for printable walk map and route.
Duration: about 1 hour 30 mins. Distance: 2.4 miles / 4 km.
Start the walk from the Matlock Tourist Information Centre, next to the bridge by Crown Square roundabout. Cross the road and walk straight ahead along the treelined path through Hall Leys Park. You’ll pass a footbridge over the River Derwent on your right. Note the sign showing the level of the floods in past years. Continue through the park, passing the boating lake and miniature railway. As you leave the park continue straight ahead onto a road called Knowleston Place. Look for a signpost that directs you to the right, over a small bridge into Pic Tor Park. Follow the path that runs between the cliffs and the river, which is known as The Promenade.
Follow this path alongside the river until you go under the railway bridge and then keep left to leave the riverbank. When you reach two bridges - one on your right going over the river and one on your left going under railway, turn left and go under the bridge and follow the path uphill. Just before you reach the first house on the right, turn sharp right and go through the gateway into the High Tor grounds.
Follow the path that runs steadily uphill, taking time to admire the views from the vantage points en route. Take note of safety notices - keep to the path and supervise children at all times. From the first cliff-top viewpoint (there are some picnic tables at this point and railings at the cliff edge) you can see down into the Derwent Gorge, across to Masson Hill and, looking east, up to Riber Castle.
Go along the path, which bears left and continues up hill. Eventually you’ll see the cliff face of High Tor ahead as you reach some open meadow. You will pass some picnic tables, there are more great views from here too. Continue up until you reach a grotto with a seat on your right. Turn right here and follow the steps up towards the summit. Extreme care must be taken near these cliff edges.
High Tor, at 300 feet is one of the highest inland cliffs in England. If you are feeling very adventurous, are surefooted and have a head for heights you have a choice here. You can continue via the risky route along ‘Giddy Edge’ - definitely not for the feint hearted, although there are handrails for safety. For the ‘Giddy Edge’ route follow the path that forks to the right. For the main path (which is less scary) bear left; this continues along the summit, passing a radio mast. Either way, eventually the two paths rejoin and you then head downhill along a stepped waymarked path in a series of zigzags through delightful woodland.
On your route - remember to keep to the footpath and at any junction, always choose the path heading downhill. You’ll come down-to-earth by the cable car station. These cable cars link to the Heights of Abraham across the valley and were opened in 1984 as the first Alpine style cable car in Great Britain.
Follow the path round the station then walk down the road towards the railway bridge. Take the path to the left just before the bridge (it is signed to Matlock Bath Railway Station). Continue alongside the railway line until you reach the railway station. Here you should cross the tracks at the designated crossing place to the station building (note how it bears a striking resemblance to a Swiss railway station). You can finish your walk here if you wish. Catch a train back to Matlock - or catch a bus from the main road, see map. The buses run more frequently than the trains.
To continue your walk go diagonally left across the car park, heading for the ‘coaches only’ bay. Along the perimeter you’ll see two semicircular walls. At the gap you’ll find a sign - ‘Footpath to Lovers Walk’. Follow the gravel path that bears right uphill and enters some woodland. Turn left and follow the stepped path continuing uphill to the summit viewpoint. From here you can see Matlock Bath below and Gulliver’s Kingdom (Theme Park) across the valley opposite. A post and rail fence on the left guides you along the path, which soon levels out. When a fence ahead bars the route you should turn right and follow the stepped path down the cliffs.
Always keep to the downward path if there’s a choice and keep to the footpath at all times. At the riverbank, turn right. Cross the footbridge over the Derwent and turn right to walk through the gardens. Leave through the gates and go on ahead through a gap in the wall and bear left past some public toilets. Turn right across the front of the Grand Pavilion which houses the Peak District Mining Museum and the Tourist Information Point. The bus stop to return to Matlock is on the opposite side of the road.