The best pushchair friendly walks Derbyshire, complete with where to park and where to get a great coffee after
I don’t know about you but motherhood hit me like a ton of bricks. I loved it, but it was a huge adjustment. Suddenly just leaving the house became a massive achievement, and my world felt a bit smaller. I clearly remember the anxiety of new places. Where would I park? Were there baby changing facilities nearby? Where could I get a decent coffee? Is there cake?! You know, the important things. My coffee addiction hit a new high in those hazy newborn days. I don’t even think it was the caffeine, just the ritual of having something wonderful for ME when the rest of the day was a bit of a blur of nappies and trying to keep this precious bundle of joy happy, safe and alive.
Getting out kept me sane. Meeting up with other new Mums definitely helped. Fresh air is good for the soul; but a decent coffee, a great cake and some social chit chat is what did it for me. If you had your baby in lockdown, I can only imagine how difficult it has been to deal with this massive life change in isolation. Hopefully we are now returning to some normality and freedom. Judging from the reaction to a recent post on my Instagram page, I know lots of Derbyshire Mums are itching to get out and truly start ‘living’ their maternity leave. Hopefully this blog post will help. Although our pram and pushchair days are long gone, we still appreciate a nice flat surface for scooting.
I’ve tried to give as much information as possible about where to park, baby changing facilities (although if you are ever stuck, using your car boot is an excellent ad-hoc solution – a great incentive for keeping it clean and clear if ever there was one!). And of course the coffee and cake!
Pushchair friendly walks Derbyshire
These are my personal favourites. Mostly traffic free, lots involve a playground and/or somewhere fabulous to get a coffee and cake.
Hall Leys Park in Matlock
Hall Leys Park has wonderfully smooth paths, pretty planting, a lovely duck pond and great playground facilities. In normal times there is also a splash pad for children (currently shut). There’s a lovely little café in the park and of course plenty of lovely independent businesses in Matlock itself (which is right next to the park). The public toilets have disabled and baby changing facilities and there’s a drinking fountain and water bottle filling station to reduce plastic waste. I tend to park in the large pay and display car park near the station (DE4 3NA) – from there cross the road and then go over the bridge and you’ll soon see the park.
Derwent Gardens (Matlock Bath river gardens)
I would actively avoid Matlock Bath on sunny weekends/Bank Holidays because it gets so busy, and traffic and parking can be problematic. But, the joy of maternity leave is that you can probably visit on quieter days. In which case you can often park for free on the main drag, especially if you arrive early. Otherwise, there is a pay and display car park at the station. From the station, cross over the river and then there’s a playground, a lovely riverside walk perfect for little legs to another playground and then you can walk back along the main high street for fish and chips/ice cream etc or double back and retrace your steps. There are countless places for refreshments along the main road through Matlock Bath. Since F’Coffee sadly shut I don’t have a go to place. All the fish and chip places we’ve tried have been good, or if it’s coffee and cake I tend to head back into Matlock and visit Butterfingers Bakery on Dale Road which is exceptionally good and very pushchair friendly.
Queen’s Park in Chesterfield
Queen’s Park is a wonderful example of a quintessentially English Victorian park. There’s everything you’d expect, two decent playgrounds, a big duck pond and band stand. Most helpfully for us, there are beautifully smooth paving for prams, pushchairs, wheelchairs or scooting. There are decent (if sometimes a bit whiffy) toilet facilities including good baby changing and disabled facilities. The café is worth a visit. It’s run by Frederick’s, a local Italian family run ice cream company, so expect delicious ice cream, good coffee and an Italian inspired menu. There are various pay and display car parks dotted around the exterior of the park and if you’re a Chesterfield resident you can use your permit for free parking in off peak hours. Do check the details as the wardens are particularly enthusiastic about dishing out tickets. Alternatively at quieter times there is some free street parking along Boythorpe Avenue.
Queens Park Sports Centre used to operate a free buggy walk every Monday morning which was a lovely way to meet other local mums. It’s been suspended since the coronavirus outbreak but keep an eye out for it’s re-opening.
Belper River Gardens
Park at the pay and display car park at the mill and then explore Belper’s River Gardens. Paths are beautifully paved for easy access for pushchair friendly walks Derbyshire. There’s a fairly big playground. Just be aware that some of the paths are open to the water. Brand new tea rooms are being built which are expected to be open this year. In the meantime, you would need to take your own refreshments or head into Belper and support one of its lovely, local, independents. I particularly like Nourish at 44. This lovely bistro functions more as a deli/café during the day. There is a safe secure area to park buggies behind locked gates and spaces inside if babies are asleep.
Monsal Trail from Hassop Station Café
The Monsal Trail is a 8.5 mile traffic free route for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users through spectacular limestone dales and fascinating railway tunnels. I would recommend parking at Hassop Station Café. There is a large pay and display car park, which does get busy at peak times. The café itself is excellent. The menu is fresh and locally sourced where possible. There’s various seating areas including a large outside area under cover with ceiling heaters and also a small playground.
From the pay and display car park, follow the road round and down until you get to a gate on the right hand side (next to the disabled car parking spaces) which takes you straight to the path. The main reservoir is a good circular route suitable for pushchairs. No catering facilities but there are picnic benches dotted around.
Cromford canal is lovely for a walk. Set in the beautiful Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, it’s a wildlife haven and the perfect location for a stroll or a heritage or nature walk. The section from Cromford Wharf to High Peak Junction is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. It’s a mile long (approximately 30 minutes’ walk, or let’s be honest forever with a toddler). Pay and display parking is available next to the Cromford Mills site, with the revenue going towards the continued restoration of the site (DE4 3RQ). There are two cafés, one canalside at High Peak Junction and one in the mill yard. You could continue the walk into Cromford itself and visit the magnificent Scarthins bookshop. Scarthins has a wonderful children’s room complete with an art installation (although isn’t pushchair friendly).
Carsington Water near Ashbourne
Most of the paths are surfaced and suitable for pushchairs. Start at the main visitor centre (DE6 1ST) where there is ample parking (you do have to pay unfortunately, £3 for up to two hours or £5 for the day – it’s an automatic number plate recognition system and you can always pay online immediately after your visit if you get caught without change). There’s plenty of toilets and baby changing facilities. It’s dog friendly and there’s a playground with hand sanitiser. The visitor centre has a good range of light refreshments. If you’d rather take your own picnic there’s loads of space, including areas to barbecue. For a slightly more formal option the café upstairs has lovely views of the reservoir.
If you’re not totally shattered after all that, head to nearby Ashbourne or Belper for a potter round. Both have lots of lovely independent shops, cafés, restaurants etc.
Pushchair friendly walks Derbyshire at National Trust properties
The gardens of big National Trust properties are generally quite good for access. I’ve visited Hardwick Hall gardens numerous times with a pushchair. Even the car park is well gravelled and you are quickly on to a reasonably smooth path. I’ve also walked round Clumber Park quite happily with a pushchair (on busier days be aware you may well be parked in a field a bit of a trek from paths but we managed perfectly well on a fine weather day). National Trust places tend to have a reasonable café and the scones are generally good. I definitely think it’s worth investing in membership if you have young children. At the moment places do need booking in advance, but we love just being able to ‘pop’ somewhere rather than feeling obliged ‘to get your money’s worth’ which can I sometimes feel if we’ve paid a lot for admission. There are lots of National Trust properties in the Derbyshire area so it’s well worth considering. Calke Abbey is also pushchair friendly and I think from memory Kedleston Hall is too.
Staunton Harold reservoir is very family friendly. There’s a surfaced footpath leading through the woodland at the southern end of the main car park, past the edge of the reservoir. There’s a big playground and a café operated by the National Trust. There’s ample pay and display parking and it only costs £3 to park all day.
The Staunton Harold estate is also easily navigated with prams or pushchairs. You can park at Staunton Harold nurseries if you plan on buying something, perhaps from their cute little tea room.
Melbourne is a particularly pretty small market town in South Derbyshire. The pool by Melbourne Hall is brilliant for a lovely traffic free stroll. There’s not a huge distance that’s pushchair friendly, but if it’s more the fresh air and chance to get out, you could spend a lovely half hour pottering the smooth tarmacked paths here. There are plenty of benches to stop and have a natter. There is a cute little tea room tucked away through the archway near the entrance to the pool, or walk into the village centre for an abundance of independent shops and cafes. I would particularly recommend newly opened Tea at 3.
Other ideas for pushchair friendly walks Derbyshire
I don’t know these as well personally but these have been recommended by the wonderful community on my Instagram page. As I get back out exploring I will endeavour to update the details here:
- Longshaw Estate
- Chesterfield canal
- The Avenue at Wingerworth
- Silverhill Trail is a 4.5 mile surfaced route with easy access for prams and scooters that links the Five Pits Trail at Tibshelf and the Pleasley and Teversal Trails
- Baslow to Chatsworth
- Old train line Bamford to Derwent reservoir
- Tissington Trail
- Trans Pennine Trail
- Sett Valley Trail in Hayfield
- Logendale Trail in Glossop
- Sections of the Derwent Valley Heritage Way that are accessible by wheelchair include Ladybower Dam, The Thornhill Trail, Little Eaton and Derby cycle routes
If you’re feeling more adventurous the Peak District Kids website has twelve Peak District pram friendly walks with Ordinance Survey mapping, photos and detailed directions.