We all know that the Crich area is the centre of the universe and supports a whole host of attractions and activities for locals and visitors alike! However, if you care to venture a little further afield in any direction, there’s plenty to see and do. Here’s a small sample to fire your spirit of adventure- by Essie Prosser.
GO WEST to Carsington Water, 7.5 miles from Crich. Postcode: DE6 1ST
Situated close to the A5035 Ashbourne Road, roughly between the villages of Wirksworth and Carsington, Carsington Water is a Severn Trent reservoir which attracts thousands of visitors of all ages and abilities. It’s a great place for families, with a big adventure playground and a large grassed area for picnicking. It also has a visitor centre with hands-on exhibitions relating to water and environmental issues. Kids will love to turn the enormous Kugel stone that floats on a very thin layer of water and will be fascinated to walk across the causeway to Stones Island. Those of you wanting a longer hike can follow one of three routes taking in the villages of Hopton and Carsington itself or opt to cycle round the reservoir (bike hire is available).
The more adventurous may prefer to try their hand at paddle boarding, kayaking, sailing or windsurfing – go to the Severn Trent website (stwater.co.uk) and then navigate to ‘Carsington Water’ for full details. Those interested in something more sedentary can look out for the various forms of birdlife to be found along the shores and on the water. The RSPB provides information and has a shop there, too. There are several shops and refreshment sites and entrance is free, although there is a fee for parking. There’s easy access for pushchairs and the less mobile, and dogs are welcome. A good place to visit on a warm summer’s day
GO NORTH to Lumsdale, 6 miles from Crich. Postcode DE4 5LA.
This hidden treasure lies between the A615 in Tansley and the A632 Chesterfield Road. You are recommended to park either at Highfields School at the top of the valley or near the Gate Inn in the centre of Tansley village, or you can even walk up from Matlock. Don’t park in the valley itself and please respect local residents.
The forces of Bentley Brook were harnessed into a series of controllable pools used to power water wheels for grinding, bleaching and lead smelting mills. The ruins of these buildings are under conservation and are a Scheduled Monument. They provide a wonderful backdrop to the spectacular waterfalls and rock formations. The walk through the valley is not difficult or particularly long but isn’t suitable for pushchairs or wheelchair users. Be aware there are no toilet or refreshment facilities in the valley itself, but a circular walk starting in Tansley village (follow the footpath signs) will take you near to at least one hostelry. Wear wellies if the weather is damp.
The valley is cared for by a group of volunteers ... if you are interested in helping at one of the monthly working parties, visit cromfordmills.org.uk/volunteering for details. You can then submit an article to us for our volunteering-themed edition in December
GO EAST to the D H Lawrence Birthplace Museum in Eastwood, 10 miles from Crich. Postcode: NG16 3AW.
Not far from the A610 Nottingham Road is 8a Victoria Street, Eastwood, where DH Lawrence was born in 1885. Small but perfectly formed, the museum gives a good insight into life in a Victorian mining community by revealing the rooms where Lawrence was brought up with actual personal family items on view. Visits can be self-guided or taken with the expertise of one of the enthusiastic guides. Booking is advisable, especially in summer (email firstname.lastname@example.org/call 0115 917 3824), as visiting hours and space are limited. Children will enjoy seeing vintage toys and following the trails set by the guides. Some of Lawrence’s watercolours are also on display. Admission is reasonably priced and parking is by pay and display nearby.
GO SOUTH to Calke Abbey, 26 miles from Crich (about a 35-min drive). Not far from A50 Nottingham to Stoke road. Postcode: DE73 7JF.
While we are all probably familiar with stately homes such as Chatsworth showing us how munificently how the ‘other half’ lived, Calke Abbey bills itself as the ‘unstately’ home. Now owned and managed by the National Trust, the Abbey has been left exactly as it was when the last remaining member of the Harpur Crewe family died in the 1980s. The house tells the both eccentric and tragic history of its former owners and the faded beauty of the rooms makes the whole experience more personal than the restored interior of, say, Kedleston Hall. One member of the family was a collector of all things wild: animals, birds, shells, stones ... all of which are on view in several rooms. Don’t visit if you are squeamish about taxidermy! Included in the admission price (if you’re a National Trust member it’s free!) are the grounds and the magnificent kitchen gardens.
The churchyard also tells a tale, as the most recent Harpur Crewe graves are all abundantly covered with heather, a tradition started a few generations ago. Except that is, for the grave of the last inhabitant of Calke Abbey, who requested not to be buried near his relatives – a request that was honoured as he lies on the opposite side of the church. Traditional heather was still planted on his plot; however, it has steadfastly refused to grow there. In fact everything has refused to grow there! The plot is replanted each year without success.
You can walk around the grounds and access is OK for wheelchair users; the house has lots of stairs. There’s a café and shop, and family events throughout the year. Check the website for details: email@example.com.