Heights of Abraham
Heights of Abraham
Certainly the most dramatic way to approach any of the Derbyshire caves - a cable car ride from Matlock Bath takes visitors high across the valley to the Heights of Abraham, so named because a British army officer thought they looked like the famous cliffs outside Montreal, where he had fought against the French.
The views across the Derwent river valley are wonderful, but further sights await underground. For once you alight from your cable car, you can visit not one, but two showcaves, and explore 60 acres of grounds, with winding trails through attractively woodland. There are also children's play areas and educational exhibits to learn about the geology of the region and the formation of the caves, as well as showcasing some of the fossils that have been found here.

The Victoria Prospect Tower offers excellent views across the estate. The Tower was erected in 1844 to celebrate the reign of Queen Victoria and to provide employment for miners who were made redundant when the estate became a pleasure ground.

Lead mining began at Matlock in Roman times, and continued for almost the next 2000 years, and the cavern tours reflect this long history. There are 2 caves; the Great Massom Cavern and the Rutland Cavern . In the latter cave you get to experience a day in the life of a 17th century lead-mining family. This is a real educational experience, and brings home just how hard the life of a miner was through the eyes of one mining family.

Near the exit of Great Masson Cavern is Tinker's Shaft viewing area, a platform offering stunning views across the Derwent Valley. Beneath the viewing area is a maze of tunnels, and interpretive panels tell the story of the geology of the area and the changes in the landscape that have taken place over thousands of years.

We visited with our 2 young children, and enjoyed the experience enormously. The cable car ride is a wonderful experience, with fantastic views across the surrounding countryside, and though our tour of the showcaves was a little crowded due to visiting at a busy time of year, our guide was very good, and the caves were extremely impressive.

Inside the caves
Inside the caves
Exposed ore inside the caves
Exposed ore on a cave wall
Taking the cable car ride to the top
Taking the cable car
ride to the top