Car-free in and around DerbyDerbyshire

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Discover Derby’s award-winning riverside pubs and brick textile mills, its light-filled cathedral and green parks. This is a city with Roman origins and a rich Victorian heritage. It’s a birthplace of the industrial revolution, a centre for craft breweries, and a gateway to the beautiful landscape of the Peak District. In nearby towns, you can explore the underground tunnels of old tin mines near Matlock, glide down the Cromford Canal on a narrowboat or meet massive shire horses at the National Brewery Centre. Trains arrive from all over the UK, from Cardiff and Edinburgh, Birmingham and London, Southampton and Plymouth. And from East Midlands Aiport, the Skylink bus takes just 40 minutes.

  • County: Derbyshire
  • Great for: cable car | caves | good cafés and pubs | industrial heritage | museums | scenic bus and train |
  • Refreshments: great choice of riverside pubs in Derby, retro cafes in Matlock Bath and more...
  • Please note: researched/updated September 2021. If anything’s changed or you have tips to share, do get in touch:
Cavern - Derby car-free adventures
  1. 4. Stroll through Derby's Cathedral Quarter

    2016 winner of the Great British High Street Best City Location award, the vibrant Cathedral Quarter is one of the best places in Derby for a stroll. With more than 450 businesses, it’s the place to buy everything from fresh flowers to fish and from Spanish tapas to local pyclets (mini pancakes). You’ll find a huge choice of pubs and cafes around here, along with the market hall, theatre, cinema, museum and art gallery, and – of course – the cathedral itself.

    • The area is a twenty-minute walk from the railway station or you can catch any bus heading right – they’re all going into town.
    • Derby’s All Saints cathedral is unexpectedly light and colourful. It’s open every day from 8.30am to 5.30pm and is currently the city’s most popular attraction.
    • The delicate wrought iron screens across the nave are 18th-century – the work of Derby ironsmith Robert Bakewell. Don’t miss the huge marble monument to Bess of Hardwick, in a chapel at the far end, or the memorial for painter Joseph Wright, relocated from another church.
    • Derby Museum, nearby, has the world’s largest collection of the glowing paintings of Joseph Wright, including his famously luminous picture of A Philosopher Giving that Lecture on an Orrery. 
    • The statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie on horseback, outside the cathedral, commemorates his army’s arrival in Derby in 1745 not long before his fateful battles in Scotland.
    • Walking past the statue, through the green space beyond and towards the river, you’ll see the elegant red brick Silk Mill on the left. This historic building, on the site of the world’s first factory, is now a Museum of Making, opening in May 2021.
    • Nearby is the Silk Mill Ale and Cider House, a great place to start a riverside pub crawl. An international capital of craft ale, Derby has more breweries per person than anywhere else in the UK. You can sample also ales from the Dancing Duck brewery in the Silk Mill pub or the Exeter arms.
  1. 5. Have a riverside pub crawl...

    Derby’s riverside walkway is one of its finest features. Stroll through grassy gardens by the leafy Derwent and enjoy a pint or two on a waterside terrace along the way. Before you start, you might want to head left along the river to see the Chapel of St Mary on the Bridge on Sowter Road.

    • Cross the footbridge near the cathedral and turn right along the river to reach The Tap on Derwent Street, Shaped like a slice of redbrick cake, the friendly Tap has a huge selection of global and local beers and serves tasting racks of five 1/3-pint tasters from the Derby Brewing Company.
    • Six minutes further, on the same side of the river, Smithfield, Derby’s CAMRA pub of the year 2018, also has a brilliant selection of beers, specialising in beer from outside Derbyshire as a contrast with almost everywhere else. They don’t do hot food, but you can have pork pies or filled cobs (rolls) to go with the beers and from the riverside terrace you can watch the water shining in sun.
    • Go on along Meadow Lane, cross the footbridge to the Recreation Ground and turn left again along the far side of the river. Follow the path to reach Railway Terrace, leading to the station.
    • The Brunswick Inn, previous winner of Derby’s CAMRA crown, serves local beers and a local take on international fare: tapas includes scotch eggs and sausage rolls and Canadian “poutines” (chips with sauce) find their perfect Derby embodiment: double cooked, hand-cut maris piper chips topped with various types of cheese and chilli.
  1. 6. National Brewery Centre

    To learn more about local beer and enjoy more vintage experiences, head for the National Brewery Centre at Burton on Trent – open all year round. With its own micro-brewery, restaurant, giant glossy, furry-footed shire horses and gleaming steam engines, this huge attraction is a suitable monument to the area’s industrious past.

    • Trains for Burton leave Derby every half an hour, take ten minutes to get there and the Brewery Centre is about 15 minutes walk from the station.
    • From Burton Railway Station, turn right into Station Street. After ¼ mile, turn left next to Sainsbury’s into Guild Street and keep going until you see the centre on your left. The entrance is round the corner on Horninglow Street.
    • Entry includes three beer tasting vouchers or you can book a variety of tours.
    • The horses live in the original brewery stables and you can see the old carts nearby that were used for centuries to deliver barrels of beer to the local pubs.
    • There’s a collection of vintage vehicles, from a loco to a fire engine, a model of 1920s Burton on Trent with trains running through the towering breweries, and a series of mocked-up historical bars from different eras.
    • For the full beer-themed day trip to Burton, pick up the Brewery Centre’s little guide to the town’s Ale Trails, taking you past some impressive 19th-century industrial architecture.
    • You can work your way back to the railway station via the Coopers Tavern on Cross Street, which lets you take a jug of beer with you to the Balti house next door, or the Devonshire Arms, where you can try any three cask ales in 1/3-pint glasses for £3.40 alongside a re-invented pork pie filled with chicken and stuffing or apple and stilton.
  • Oatcake - Derby car-free adventures
  • Riverside Walk - Derby car-free adventures
  • Deby pub - Derby car-free adventures
  • Pint of beer - Derby car-free adventures
  • Copper tun - Derby car-free adventures
  • Shire horse - Derby car-free adventures
  • Cavern - Derby car-free adventures