Derbyshire Dales cable cars and caves
Updated: Aug 18
On 17th July, after we had our morning of fun at Birmingham's Legoland Discovery and Sealife Centre, we drove the 62 miles (1h20) to Heights of Abraham, a 60 acre estate in the Derbyshire Dales. It had been warm and we had been busy bees in the morning so Tiger slept the whole way! I was expecting it to be busy to visit on a Saturday afternoon at it certainly was tricky, but not impossible, to find a parking space at Matlock Bath Station car park. I paid £3.80 for car parking at the machines, but on a card I don't normally use as the machine rejected the first two cards I used, and there is no option to pay by phone or app! So, unusually, this might be a good place to have good old fashioned coins on standby just in case!
I had bought our tickets online, £21 for an adult and under 5s are free. Children aged 5-15 are £14 and a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) is £65. It is worth mentioning that I had to change my dates once and this was dealt with by email swiftly and professionally.
After parking, I asked another lady with a similar aged child, should I bring the buggy (Tiger at the time was asking to walk as she had been in the car so long) and she said, yes, definitely! I am very, very glad we did. It's a short-ish 5 minute walk to the cable cars. We had no wait and boarded for 3.15pm but I think a buggy would be useful if you had to wait in line to go up to start with. Also, on the day we went, we had to go past a barrier which said they were full for the day.... but as we had pre-booked, we just walked around the sign.
I was able to wheel Tiger into the cable car (with plenty of willing hands to help!) and then took her out of her buggy for the actual cable car ride, about 5 minutes. Some readers will remember me taking her as a newborn up in a cable car in the Indian Kashmiri town of Gulmarg up to 3950m in a gondola; this was somewhat more sedate just 169m up but still a little scary for me, although Tiger took it all in her stride.
When we got to the summit, the information lady was superb directing us to maximise our time so we got ice creams (amazing!), almost watched a fab Punch and Judy Show but funnily enough Tiger found this scary (no, not the gondola, just the puppets!), so we moved swiftly on the Great Masson Cavern tour hearing about its 300 million year history. Tiger was brilliant, walking down the many steps and up around 160 steps to get out. Our guide was brilliant but I only heard snippets of information as spent most of my time counting the steps with Tiger in French and German and keeping her entertained! But he was excellent!
We finished off our visit by running off some steam in the adventure playground before queuing up and making sure that we took the last cable car down at 5pm. I really didn't fancy the walk later on!! Overall, it was wonderful. We did only spend the afternoon there but it was such a hot day that that was probably the best solution for us, but it is worth noting that families could easily spend the entire day at Heights of Abraham. We loved it!
We left the car park around 5.30pm and drove onwards to Wilmslow (48 miles and about 1h15) and what is probably going to be the absolute highlight, accommodation and food wise of this entire UK road trip. We stayed at Rylands Farm Guesthouse in a standard double room for £49.50 which I had found on booking.com. It does look like they have upped their prices to around £65 now though which is still well worth the money. Our room really was a cottage, with a code to open the door rather than a key. We were straight into a boutique bedroom, with stairs leading up to the shower bathroom and a little cubby hole at the top of the stairs where Tiger slept in our own travelcot. I wasn't sure if they supplied cots (they don't seem to be listed on their website or on booking) and just used ours anyway. It was a teeny bit hot (highs of 30 degree celsius during the daytime!) so warm at night but Tiger slept in a sleeping bag but without pyjamas and I just had the fan on all night long.
Rylands Farm now have a wonderful restaurant, as well as a dining room and outside pods to eat in. Their communication with me on the booking app was second to none and I had discovered that the restaurant was only 20 steps away from my room so it was safe to leave Tiger asleep and dine knowing she was just a stone's throw away. There was a 40th birthday party going on that evening, but again a great example of communication as I was phoned in advance to warm me and told that there would be no music past midnight. To be honest, it simply added to the ambiance of the whole evening! I sat and had rose wine, with a starter of crab and toast, followed by teriyaki salmon, and coffee. I spent as much on the dinner as the room but it was worth every penny. I felt so special, like I really was on my holiday and that this was my reward for all the long work hours of late.
The breakfast the next morning was complimentary and delicious which we both enjoyed before admiring the horses in the field and getting on our way. Rylands Farm really is a stunning example of how it should be done - and what a crazy location, just next to Manchester Airport. Absolutely 100% the best choice!!