Before I begin this post I must say thank-you to all those who made such kind remarks about my previous post. I am sure you were all crossing your fingers behind your backs while you typed those compliments with the other hand! I am nevertheless very grateful to you all. (This post is much shorter you will be pleased to hear).
After our walk around Haddon Hall R and I had a hot drink and a little something to eat in the cafe situated in the old stables. We then drove to Matlock Bath – somewhere we had never visited before.
We found somewhere to park along the main road through the village and then wandered about looking at what there was to see. We both thought it had the same atmosphere as many of our seaside towns – a sort of faded elegance and we felt almost as though we had gone back in time. The amusements on offer were very similar to those available to tourists 150 years ago. In fact, Matlock Bath was developed as one of the country’s first tourist destinations in the late 17th century when the spa waters were discovered. The village is situated in the gorge of the River Derwent and is surrounded by rocky crags and wooded hillsides. The poet Lord Byron described it as ‘Little Switzerland’. There are the ‘Riverside Gardens’ to visit and ‘Lover’s Walks’ to stroll along.
We discovered The Matlock Bath Aquarium and Exhibitions building – a virtually un-modernised Victorian hall with grand doors and a little toll-booth at the entry. We paid our entrance fee and ascended a wide staircase at the top of which were display cabinets full of curios.
These are crystal clusters of gypsum or baryte which include abundant sand grains (Wikipedia)
There was an enormous exhibition of holograms (one of the largest displays in Europe), an aquarium and a room full of Goss and Crested China. It seemed as if we were at an old-fashioned fairground attraction – so strange.
The old thermal pool is now home to a large carp collection.
There was a ‘Past Times in Matlock Bath’ exhibition.
I could imagine a character from one of HG Wells novels staying at this boarding house.
This place is the site of the only ‘Petrifying Well’ in Matlock Bath.
I can see lots of bottles, a teapot, a jug, a shuttlecock, a basket of bread-rolls, boiled eggs in an egg holder, a telephone and a hot water-bottle. The thermal spring is said to be about 2000 feet in depth and comes to the surface 100 feet above river level. The temperature is a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit/20 degrees Centigrade and the spring has a daily output of 600,000 gallons.
This passage was built during the 1780’s to carry the thermal water from its source to the bathing pool of the fountain bath which occupied this site from 1786 until 1883. It was then replaced by the Matlock Bath hydro and the existing thermal pool. This area was then made into the ‘Petrifying Well’.
R and I know all about this process. Our tap-water at home is very ‘hard’ and we spend a lot of time and money on different products trying to get rid of lime-scale.
We walked through the Riverside Gardens.
We walked up towards the railway station and strolled a little way along one of the Lover’s Walks.
We walked to the cable-car station but as it was getting late in the afternoon we decided not to go up to ‘The Heights of Abraham’. This is a wooded country park on the top of the peak which is crowned with the Victoria Prospect Tower. Former lead mines have been adapted as show caves and the Grand Pavillion now houses a Tourist Point and the Peak District Mining Museum. There is also a Theme Park for young people up there.
We decided it was time to return to our caravan and buy some groceries on the way. We timed this very well as the heavens opened while we were in the supermarket. We were very pleased to have avoided a soaking!
As I was typing this post this evening R decided to watch a favourite television programme – Great British Railway Journeys – and by coincidence Matlock Bath was visited and Haddon Hall was mentioned. All the people questioned in Matlock Bath said the village had a seaside feel to it and Byron was quoted! It is so good to know that I am full of original thoughts!