Days out Family friendly

7 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 this January.

I originally wrote a version of this post last year – but this has been fully updated for 2023.

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.

Only discovering this towards the end of January? Head to my What’s On Guide for a regularly updated list of lovely local events – including lots of free ones!

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

Thornbridge Hall

For the month of January the Thornbridge Hall 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. There are varied gardens to explore as well as some low key, yet fun and quirky, children’s play areas including sandpit. We visited last January and had a great time – just be aware that the famous rubber duckies are safely packed away for winter to protect the fountains. Read my review.

Ashover Rock

Situated in the countryside near Chesterfield, and 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.

Rainy Day Free Things to Do in Derbyshire

Museum of Making


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

Free to visit – donations welcomed.

Derby Museum and Art Gallery is a “maze of historic architecture and intriguing collections” with plenty to explore – although do be aware that there are repair works being done with some areas shut. Find out more.

Click here for more ideas of things to do in Derby

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.

Good Value Offers on Days Out

Kids Go Free at Matlock Farm Park

Until the end of January, up to two free children with each full paying adult (from £10.95) – no booking required. Wrap up warmly for lots of outdoor animal based activities and play. Inside Rainforest playcentre and coffee shop are open daily. Find out more.

For more free and cheap days out ideas, check out these previous posts:

5 Free Days Out in Derbyshire

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40 Things to Do in Derbyshire

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What’s On Derbyshire 2023 Events Guide

A carefully curated list of events you actually want to go to, in Derbyshire and just beyond. Here’s my guide to the best events and what’s on in Derbyshire (and if it’s really of interest, in surrounding counties) in 2023, all organised by date. There are lots of free activities, and most events (not all)…

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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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