Days out Family friendly

6 Free Things to do in Derbyshire this January

When it feels a very long way until payday, most of us are looking for free or cheap activities. The vast majority of these are outside – so wrap up warm. Here’s my edit of fabulous free things to do in Derbyshire.

The trick to having a really cheap day out is to take a picnic – and in this weather ideally a flask of something lot to drink! And to swerve the gift shop (never my forte). For maximum money saving, whack a casserole in the slow cooker before you set off so you don’t get tempted by a pub tea/takeaway on the way home! That said, local pubs always need our support, so if you are in the market for a cosy pub check out this previous blog post – and if you’d much rather someone else cooked your dinner, read my guide to the best deals on eating out here.

Rainy Day Free Things to Do in Derbyshire

Free to visit – donations welcomed.

Derby Museum and Art Gallery is a “maze of historic architecture and intriguing collections” with plenty to explore.  

One of the current visiting exhibitions is on loan from the British Museum. Titled, Crossings: community and refuge, the exhibition is made from the remnants of a boat carrying refugees wrecked off the coast of Tunisia. The exhibition includes moving messages about kindness, community and the indifference faced by many refugees. (Available to view now until 6th March).

Museum of Making


Entry to the Museum of Making is free and no longer needs pre-booking (except for special exhibitions).

Click here for more ideas of things to do in Derby

The rest of the activities are outside so do wrap up warm and heed any weather warnings.

Totally Free Things to do in Derbyshire (including free parking)

Ashover Rock

Known locally as ‘The Fabrick’, Ashover Rock is a great choice for a free trip out. At nearly 300m above sea level there are stunning panoramic views. On a quiet day you can park for free in a lay-by and just walk up the short but steep hill to the rock. Find it by entering “Alton Lane, Ashover” in a sat nav.
To incorporate a bracing walk, and for more extensive parking, park for free at Ashover Parish Hall.

free things to do in Derbyshire
Thornbridge Hall has opened its gardens up, free of charge, throughout January 2022.

Thornbridge Hall

For the month of January the gardens are totally free to visit. Car parking is also free. Just note that picnics are actively discouraged as visitors are asked to support the café. Varied gardens to explore as well as some low key children’s play areas including sandpit. Read more.

Just Pay for Car Parking / Public Transport

Staunton Harold Reservoir

FREE entry, £3 to park all day

There’s a fairly big playground here complete with hand sanitisers. I also like there are a few benches dotted about inside the playground and then several more picnic benches right outside. There’s a big pay and display car park DE73 8DN and a café operated by the National Trust, currently open daily 10am-4pm. There are also toilets. Dogs are welcome on a lead.

Carsington Water

Car park charges vary depending on where you park. The Visitor Centre car park is the most expensive at £3 for two hours or £5 for the whole day but I would recommend parking here for the best playground and toilet facilities.

For more ideas, check out my previous posts on 5 FREE Days Out and the best January offers on eating out and days out

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By Molly Scott

Derbyshire blogger - bringing you the best places to eat, drink, spa and stay in the wider Derbyshire area. Champion of the most fabulous independents.

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