Derby local? Me too! I’ve lived here all my life (minus three years in London for uni). But as much as I enjoy my city for brunching with friends and supporting local businesses, sometimes it’s nice to head out on one of the many amazing day trips from Derby.
One thing I will say about living in Derby is that you are just a stone’s throw from the Peak District. And if I was to list all the areas of the Peak District that you absolutely have to visit, it would take me a lifetime. However, if you enjoy walking and love being at one with nature, I’d recommend heading out on one of the best Peak District walks. But that’s not what we’re here to talk about. So from country houses and museums to national parks and beaches, here are 15 great day trips from Derby that you need to go on!
This article is written by Faraway Lucy writer, Jess Hutchby.
1. Chatsworth House
How far away is it? 29.8 miles
How long does it take to get there? 47 minutes
Chosen as Britain’s favourite country home in multiple surveys over the years, Chatsworth House is a beautiful stately home that has been in the Cavendish family since 1549. The house itself is beautiful, but don’t worry if you don’t set foot in the house at all.
There are some lush gardens to walk around, from which you can admire the beauty of the house from afar and enjoy the fresh Derbyshire air. You can also take a visit to the farmyard, where you can handle animals or head out on a tractor-trailer tour.
2. Crich Tramway Village
How far away is it? 15 miles
How long does it take to get there? 26 minutes by car
Just 26 minutes from Derby, Crich Tramway Village is a great day out for all the family – and even your dog! The museum takes you back in time with vintage tram rides and period streets that house tearooms and a pub.
There’s plenty to get involved in here, from rides on the trams to a woodland walk and sculpture trail. The trail itself is accessible to all, meaning no matter how much energy you have, you can go for an explore. Along the trail, you’ll discover stunning views, outdoor games and a plethora of different sculptures. Be sure to also look out for the 19th Century Bradford Cabmen’s Shelter which showcases the story of its restoration through art!
The period street itself houses The Red Lion pub, which serves local beer, hot drinks and cakes. But if you don’t fancy the pub, there are a couple of other options to choose from. Rita’s Tea Rooms is the perfect place to take a break and Barnett’s Sweet Shop houses many different flavours of old fashioned sweets and lots of branded ice-creams.
3. Sudbury Hall and the Museum of Childhood
How far away is it? 16.2 miles
How long does it take to get there? 22 minutes by car
National Trust property Sudbury Hall is a beautiful Grade 1 listed building that warrants a visit in its own right. There are so many gorgeous walks around the garden, and a lovely tea shop and souvenir shop to pop into. However, if country houses aren’t really your thing, you’ll also find the Museum of Childhood housed within the 19th Century servants’ wing.
Taking you back to your childhood, bringing back fond memories of toys and games of yesteryear, The Museum of Childhood is a great visit for people of all ages. You can even get involved in the fun and games by becoming a chimney sweep, a scullion or even a Victorian schoolchild.
How far away is it? 21.5 miles
How long does it take to get there? 31 minutes by car
Reminiscent of a seaside town, there is so much to see and do in Matlock. If you just want to get out and explore, then head for the Heights of Abraham. Well-known for their cable cars that take you up to the summit of Masson Hill, the 360-degree views are unparalleled here. Not only do you get to experience the cable cars, but you also get to explore The Great Masson and Rutland Caverns which were formed over 350 million years ago. The tour of Masson Cavern takes around 35 minutes and Rutland Cavern takes around 20 minutes.
However, there are plenty of other things to do in Matlock if heights and caverns aren’t your thing. Make sure you’ve got your 1ps and 2ps to hand as Matlock is home to a fun selection of arcades – just like at the seaside! You can even follow up the arcade with some of the best fish and chips ever. I mean, it’d be rude to visit Matlock without finishing the day with some fish and chips, wouldn’t it? For those of you who fancy something different, there are plenty of independent shops to enjoy and lots of great walks around the area too.
5. Kedleston Hall
How far away is it? 5.6 miles
How long does it take to get there? 13 minutes by car
National Trust Property Kedleston Hall is situated just thirteen minutes outside the centre of Derby. Surrounded by historic parkland, the 18th Century mansion is beautiful both inside and out. Inside, the hall displays paintings and sculptures and houses a lot of its original furnishing, all designed for entertaining.
However, you don’t just visit Kedleston for the house, as there are gorgeous grounds to wander around too. It’s the perfect spot for a good dog walk! As well as the gardens, there is a lovely tea room for you to sit and have a slice of cake and a cuppa.
6. Twycross Zoo
How far away is it? 31.3 miles
How long does it take to get there? 36 minutes by car
Love animals? Then Twycross Zoo is one of the best day trips from Derby for you. Just 36 minutes from Derby, the zoo has one of the largest collections of monkeys and apes in the western world, being the only zoo in the UK to house all four type of monkey.
There are eight zones across the zoo, my favourite of which is Conservation Way which is home to gibbons, meerkats and endangered Amur Leopards, the world’s rarest big cat. Wet and Wild is home to penguins, flamingos, and cranes, and the Borneo Longhouse is home to sloths, tapirs, tigers, and rhinos. The other areas are the Kingdom of Apes, Life in the Trees, Explorer Zone, Himalaya and also the Nature Reserve. There really is so much to explore!
7. National Brewery Centre
How far away is it? 12.6 miles
How long does it take to get there? 18 minutes by car
Set in the heart of Burton-upon-Trent, the National Brewery Centre houses a museum, an outdoor play area for children, a beer boutique, vintage vehicles, a café, a souvenir shop and an escape room. Yep, all of that packed into one place! The museum itself incorporates large elements of the original Bass Collection, and in the museum, you are able to learn about the Bass family and their role in the development of brewing.
If you don’t fancy learning about brewing or it just isn’t your thing, you’ll love their 60-minute escape rooms. Take your pick from two different scenarios: The Brewery Bandits or The Secret of Silas.
8. Heart of the Country
How far away is it? 26.1 miles
How long does it take to get there? 29 minutes by car
Heart of the Country is set in the ‘heart’ of rural Staffordshire on a converted farm, with a handful of small shops and coffee shops for you to explore on a sunny Saturday morning. You can even visit their two pot-bellied pigs as you head in the Green Fairy woods!
The trail around the Green Fairy Woods shows you the homes of green fairies who make their homes from locally recycled products. You can even make something for the fairies, but it must be made from recycled, salvaged or donated products in line with the fairies’ ethos! The trail itself takes around 20-30 minutes to complete.
9. Alton Towers
How far away is it? 24 miles
How long does it take to get there? 38 minutes by car
Just a 38-minute drive from Derby, Alton Towers houses not only the famous theme park but also mini-golf, a spa, water park and hotel complex, meaning you could easily make a weekend out of visiting the resort.
Home to ten rollercoasters including Oblivion, Wicker Man, Nemesis and The Smiler to name a few, this is one of the best day trips from Derby for adrenaline junkies. But don’t let the rides be the only reason you go! In the heart of the park sits Alton Towers Mansion, which houses beautiful gardens – the perfect picnic spot in the summer season.
How far away is it? 97.3 miles
How long does it take to get there? 2 hours by car
This is one of the best day trips from Derby for beach bums! But let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a beach? Well, Skegness is a local seaside for those who live in the East Midlands. Just over two hours away from Derby, it offers all the delights of a quintessential British seaside resort, with its arcades, ice-cream, fish and chips and crazy golf. What’s not to love?!
Skegness is known for its expansive sandy beaches and great donkey rides. You may need binoculars to see the sea but you know what, for the people of the East Midlands it is our seaside and despite what we might say, we love it! About five minutes along the coast is Fantasy Island, a must-visit for those who love a thrill ride and a bit of shopping. With its roller coasters and markets, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
11. Derwent Dam
How far away is it? 52.6 miles
How long does it take to get there? 1 hour and 15 minutes by car
Fan of The Dambusters? Then Derwent Dam is one of the best day trips from Derby for you! Set in the middle of three reservoirs in the Upper Derwent Valley, the dam is most well-known for the Dambusters flyover during the Second World War.
Used due to its similarities with the German dams, the 617 Squadron used the dam to practice low-level flights needed for the Dam Buster raids. One of the towers at the Dam houses the Derwent Valley Museum which displays the history of Squadron 617. However, if you just fancy soaking up the views, there is a lovely walk the whole way around the dam, with different routes depending on your ability.
12. National Memorial Arboretum
How far away is it? 20.9 miles
How long does it take to get there? 26 minutes by car
After a quiet serene walk where you can spend a few hours with your own thoughts? Then the National Memorial Arboretum is the place for you. Set in 150-acres of the National Forest, The arboretum is a monument to all the servicemen and women who lost their lives in World War 2. There are trails throughout the arboretum which pass by the different memorials laid out across the 150 acres.
How far away is it? 13.9 miles
How long does it take to get there? 24 minutes by car
Known as the Gateway to Dovedale, tourists mainly visit Ashbourne for its Tudor and Georgian heritage. With more than 200 listed buildings, including a coaching inn and townhouses, it’s great for a walk around and a spot of shopping. The Greenman Pub houses the longest inn sign in the world and there’s a 17th-century mansion where The King of Ashbourne, Dr John Taylor once lived.
Ashbourne is also famous for the Royal Shrovetide football match, which bears little resemblance to the football we know and love today. Unique, unruly and just as crazy as it sounds, the match is played each Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday! Ashbourne also sits on the Tissington Trail, which links Dovedale and Pennine Bridleway, where you can walk, cycle or even take your horse out for a ride.
14. Sherwood Forest
How far away is it? 38 miles
How long does it take to get there? 53 minutes by car
Made famous by Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men, Sherwood Forest is just up the road from Derby. Aside from its associations with Robin Hood, the forest is gorgeous and its woodland trails really allow you to get back to nature.
The Giants Trial is the most idyllic walk, which takes around 30 minutes to complete and introduces you to some of Europe’s largest collection of ancient oaks. A great challenge is to try to find all 997 oak trees! However, there are plenty of other walks to choose from, including The Major Oak Trail. Lasting approximately 45 minutes, the trail takes you past The Major Oak, which is famous for being Robin Hood’s hiding place.
15. Calke Abbey
How far away is it? 11.2 miles
How long does it take to get there? 28 minutes by car
Calke Abbey is said to be the most un-stately stately home imaginable. The home itself is somewhere between neglect and dereliction but it will still have you in awe as you walk around the house and admire the fine artwork and furniture it houses.
On arrival at the park itself, you drive along a beautifully lined Lime Tree Avenue with sheep playing in the fields beside you. Soon the grand house will appear. Similar to many other stately houses, there are plenty of walks around the area for you, your friends and family and even your little four-legged furry friends to enjoy.
But that’s not it! The ground themselves also house a farmyard, a church, a tearoom and a souvenir shop. Great for grabbing a bite to eat after a long walk. Be sure to also keep an eye out for the different local stall events they host throughout the year where you can shop and browse at your own leisure. And if all of that didn’t already take your fancy, there is also the option to take a picnic, explore the woodland areas, and meet the local animals.
So there you have it: 15 great day trips from Derby you need to go on! Which of these day trips from Derby has most caught your eye? Please let me know in the comments below!