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Matlock Bath: Lovers Walks, about 1901
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The Riverbank, about 1880

Ferry & River Derwent 1905

Lovers' Walks, brief history

Lovers' Walks, 1914

James Pilkington's "A View of the Present State of Derbyshire" was published in 1789[1]. He made frequent excursions to the places he described in the book and consulted the likes of Peter Nightingale of Lea and Dr. Darwin of Derby for expert advice on mineralogy and information about the Matlock and Buxton waters. When he visited Matlock Bath Pilkington wrote of crossing the River Derwent by boat, which would have been approximately where the boat can be seen in the middle of the river in the above photograph.

"Matlock dale will be seen with still additional advantage by crossing the river in a boat above the old Bath. It is observable here, that art has contributed to improve the natural beauty of the place. On landing three walks are seen pointing thro' the wood in so many different directions. Two of them, by various and frequent windings along the side of the dale, at last brings you to its summit ; and from the edge of a very high and steep precipice you have a new and different view of all the beautiful scenes, thro' which you have passed. The other path which I have mentioned, is called the Lover's Walk, and runs along the side of the river. It has been cut thro' the wood, and is beautifully arched by the branches of the trees, with which it is enclosed"[1].

This late autumn or perhaps early spring view shows the addition of the church, the ferry and the Derwent Gardens to the river's west bank since Pilkington's day. The ferry was the south ferry (sometimes called the central ferry), which the Local Council confirmed would be opened on Sundays, commencing at Easter 1901. They also recommended the main path on the Lovers' Walk and Jubilee Grounds should be repaired at cost estimated at £35[2]. Almost in line with the ferry, on the river bank path, are a group of men and women walking southwards towards Willersley Castle. Willersley was, of course, not built at the time Pilkington was writing. Amongst the branches we can see the limestone escarpment of Cat Tor, which Pilkington must have been describing when he wrote that "On the left [sic] hand high and prodigious ledges of bare and large rocks appear"[1] about entering Matlock Bath from Cromford.

Enlargement showing the ferry boat and rope, plus the boat house behind it.

1 and 2. Postcard of "Lovers' Walks, Matlock Bath". No publisher. Posted 29 Apr 1902 at Wirksworth. The card has an undivided back.
Both images © Ann Andrews collection.
Information researched, written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.


[1] Pilkington, James (1789) "A View of the Present State of Derbyshire; with an Account of its most Remarkable Antiquities ... in two volumes. Volume I". Derby : Printed and sold by J. Drewry; Sold also by J. Johnson, No.72, St. Paul's Churchyard ; And J. Deighton, Holborn, London.

[2] "Derbyshire Times", 16 March 1901. Matlock Bath and the Coming Season.