We were not intending to take the kids to the Heights of Abraham when we arrived in Matlock this August. David and I had done it before, a few years pre-kids, so we had planned to check out Gullivers. However, after an hour of queuing to get into the car park. We gave up, and 10 minutes later, we were riding the cable car. In hindsight, we should have gone straight to the Heights of Abraham. It is a great day out and the sort of thing our family loves.
Best things to do at the Heights of Abraham:
There are two ways to reach the Heights of Abraham from the car park. You can walk, or you can take the cable car. The kids love a cable car ride, so for us, there was only one choice. The queue for the cable car moves quickly, and the trip offers the first of many spectacular views for the day. Whether you walk or take the cable car, you will need to pay for entry to the attractions at the top.
The Long View
The Long View is the main museum area of the Heights of Abraham. It takes you through the history of the site from prehistory to mine to tourist attraction. The exhibits are a mixture of interesting but dry information and interactive stuff that the kids can get involved with. The display showing how the cable car works is always particularly popular.
Upstairs is a large shop with a small exhibition room dedicated to the prehistory of the area. We love a dinosaur attraction, and this isn’t the best one we’ve seen, but it’s still worth checking out.
There are two caverns at the Heights of Abraham which have regular tours throughout the day.
The Masson Cavern has an entertaining tour where a guide takes you through the history from the formation of the natural caverns to the mining era up to conversion into a tourist cavern. The caverns have been lit up with colour to create a beautiful space. We have done a few cave tours with the children, and this is one of the better ones. It’s not too long, and there is a lot to see along the way. There are lots of steps because the exit is at a higher elevation than the entrance.
We didn’t do the Rutland Cavern tour as one cave tour per day is enough for our kids. The entrance can be found on the walking route from the bottom of the hill to the top. This cavern tells the story of a mining family, taking visitors through a typical day.
Best Heights of Abraham Views
As you would expect from a visitor attraction on top of a hill in the Peak District, the Heights of Abraham has some incredible views, and they do their best to make the most of them. Here are some of the best spots to drink in the vistas:
The exit from the Masson Cavern is right at the top of Masson Hill close to the Tinkers’ Shaft. The shaft can be viewed from the top down from the platform, but you will probably be distracted by the panoramic views.
The Terrace Cafe and Vista Bar and Restaurant can be found in the same building. The cafe is on the lower level and is definitely more suitable for kids. Both venues have open-air seating that looks out over the valley towards Gulliver’s.
The Amphitheatre is a seating area that is explicitly designed to take advantage of the views on this side of the hill.
There are two significant play areas at the Heights of Abraham which have things to do for kids of all ages.
The Explorer’s Challenge Play Area
The Explorer’s Challenge Play Area is up the hill from the cable car station. Most of it is a tricky obstacle course for older children. There is some stuff for smaller children, but it is challenging to keep my children off the big things.
The Adventure Playground
The Adventure Playground can be found down the hill from the cable car station. This play area is unique because of the slides built into the hillside. There are some big climbing, adventure play things too which my bigger one (age 4) loved.
Victoria Prospect Tower
This Victoria Prospect Tower is another historic spot to look for a beautiful view. The tower, which was built in 1844, was not initially open to the public. Instead, flares were lit from the top.
The problem we found with the tower is that there is no passing space on the stairs. This meant that David and May got stuck at the top, where there was limited space while more and more people were going up. Ted and I were at the bottom, not realising the problem. Eventually, there was a break, and a lot of relieved looking people started appearing at the bottom. Ted and I went up during a quiet period, but it was so tight and steep that I really wouldn’t recommend it for small kids.
Heights of Abraham Review
We loved our family day out at the Heights of Abraham. It is a unique tourist site with lots to do for children of all ages. It’s not as flashy as its neighbour. Instead, it complements the landscape and offers a slice of the area’s history.