Peak District Kids visit to Heights of Abraham, Matlock
A visit to the Heights of Abraham, Matlock, is one of our favourite days out in the Peak District and a must for any family visiting Matlock. Your journey starts with a cable car ride across the Derwent Valley and up to a hill top estate. But there’s a lot more than stunning views to admire here! Your ticket also gives you entry to two caverns where you venture deep under ground and learn about the history of lead mining in the area, there’s a tower to climb, you can hunt for fossils, and there are also two adventure playgrounds! Plus, dogs are more than welcome.
Heights of Abraham is currently shut due to COVID-19
Getting to the Heights of Abraham and parking
The entrance to the cable car that takes you up to Heights of Abraham is right next to Matlock Bath Train station, making it one of the few main attraction near the Peak District that is easily accessible via public transport. If you come by train and present your valid train tickets at the ticket office, you will get 20% off your admission. There are hourly direct train services to Matlock Bath from Derby, Nottingham, Long Eaton, Beeston and Newark on Trent. Check train times here.
If you are driving, there is no allocated car park for The Heights of Abraham. Your best bet is to park at Matlock Bath station car park. This pay and display car park is separate from the Heights of Abraham and run by the council. Bring coins as the card machine can be unreliable. On our last visit prices for parking were:
1 hour stay £1.50 2 hour stay £2.50 3 hour stay £3.80 4 hour stay £5.00 All day to 8am £6.00 We usually pay for all day parking as it’s easily a full day out
Check the website for opening times and ticket pricing. You can purchase tickets in advance online, but this doesn’t allow you quick entry, you still have to queue up with everyone else purchasing tickets on the day. However, you do save a little bit by booking your tickets online. Tickets price includes the cable car, and entry to caverns, exhibitions and Hilltop Park.
If you plan to visit more than once in a year, you may want to consider purchasing an annual pass. Bring an annual pass holder means that any friends and family you bring with you get 20% off their admission price too.
The cable car ride
You can walk up to the hill top where Heights of Abraham is situated, but with a cable car it’s MUCH easier and a lot more fun.. There’s often a bit of a wait to get into a cable car, but it’s totally worth it and always one of the highlights of a visit.
The ride last a few minutes and takes you up to 339 metres, which isn’t actually that high but provides you with stunning views across the Derwent Valley.
The Heights of Abraham caverns
Venturing underground to explore the caverns are the main reason people visit Heights of Abraham and one of the top things to do in Derbyshire on a rainy day. There are two main caverns – The Masson Cavern and Rutland Cavern. You can not go into these alone, instead there are guided tours throughout the day. You don’t need to book on to these, it’s just a case of turning up. They sometimes turn people away if at maximum capacity, but it’s never too long to wait until the next one.
Do wear an extra layer when you visit the caves as it is much cooler underground, and wear sturdy footwear.
Tours around the Masson Cavern take around 45 minutes and involve quite a few steps. Learn about the 350 million year story that led to the cavern being what it is today as you weave and duck through tunnels (this tour does involve bending over in places). Caverns are beautifully lit in rainbow colours and there are a few geological surprises along the way to wow both little and big kids.
Tours at the Rutland Cavern take around half an hour and involve considerably less steps, although there is a steep walk down to the entrance. Once inside, you walk down a tunnel into a larger cave and listen to a recorded story to hear what life was really like for a 17th Century lead mining family. This does involve standing still and listening for a good 15 minutes, so very little ones may get a bit jiffly. But it is fascinating learning about the role of women and children within the mines, and how they took on the most dangerous work.
Tinkers Shaft view point
As you exit Masson Cavern, to the left you will see Tinkers Shaft. This is an old mining shaft that has been turned into a safe viewing platform for visitors. My boys also love climbing and jumping off the rocks around here and it’s a good spot for a picnic with views.
Victoria Prospect Tower
Another fantastic viewpoint is from the top of Victoria Prospect Tower, although small kids won’t be able to see them without being lifted up. Kids will more enjoy the steep climb up the narrow winding staircase! It’s VERY narrow and steep and may give you heart palpitations, especially when coming down.
The Fossil Factory
330 million years ago, Matlock Bath was deep under water, and over the years of mining some fascinating fossils have been found. You can get up close to these fossils now on display, including a giant Ichthyosaur which is around three metres long- touching is encouraged!
There is also free fossil rubbing equipment for anyone who wishes to take home a memento of the fossils they have seen, and The Rockshop is located next door for any rock-themed gift you could need.
The playgrounds at the Heights of Abraham are why we spend a full day here. My boys can spend hours playing here, especially on the giant slides.
There is the ‘Explorer’s Challenge’ located at the summit, and then the bigger ‘Woodland Adventure’. There is picnic seating around for parents to sit.
There are a handful of eateries including a restaurant, cafe and pub. Details can be found here. I can’t really comment on them as we always take a picnic!
But… we do always treat ourselves with an ice-cream each from the ice-cream stand. Delicious!
Hello! 'Peak District Kids' is a central resource for parents both visiting and living in the Peak District run by local Mum, Jenny. Find out the top things to do, where to go, and up coming events for families in the area.