Lumsdale Falls: waterfalls, pools and ruins

We learnt about Lumsdale Falls one evening in mid winter as we lounged in front of the fire and knew we had to visit. It’s only about an hour’s drive from home so we set off the following morning. Lumsdale Falls are pretty much hidden away on the outskirts of Matlock. There are few obvious signposts and so probably missed by most visitors to the area. And what a shame to miss this wonderful place!

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Lumsdale Valley was once a hive of industrial activity. Bustling mills, each powered by the ever flowing and dammed waters of Bentley Brook, once lined the length of the valley. But long gone are the days of bone and paint mills, huge water fed grinding wheels and bleaching cotton. Today, these mills are abandoned and in ruins with nature engulfing their stone remains.

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The waterfalls, pools and ruins along the Lumsdale Valley make for a wonderful walk and it’s so photogenic too. The moss clad dry stone buildings sit dormant now alongside the ever changing landscape. The brook still flows, following its route down the valley, gathering in the mill pools before cascading past the remnants of the early years of the industrial revolution.

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Looking for an English country escape? Why not head up to Northumberland

This area needs your respect. It’s so beautiful and yet so fragile too. The wildlife here is special and the ruins continue to erode so leave no trace. It’s important to take your litter home with you, don’t do anything to damage the trees or buildings and simply enjoy these wonderful surroundings. How does the saying go? Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time. And keep an eye out for fairies too!

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Things to know before visiting Lumsdale Falls

How to get there

Lumsdale Falls are set along the Lumsdale Valley, a short walk from Matlock in Derbeyshire,on the edge of the Peak District National Park.

By car: we visited Lumsdale Falls by car and if you want to explore the Peak District, we recommend this as the best way to explore the region. Car rental is widely available in and around the National Park.

By train: If you want to make your way to Lumsdale Falls by train, the best way is to your way to Nottingham or Derby. From there, you will find regular departures to Matlock. The journey from Nottingham to Matlock takes 1 hour and costs about £10 return. The journey from Derby to Matlock takes half an hour and costs about £6 return.

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Parking for Lumsdale Falls

Lumsdale is a small village so doesn’t have loads of parking facilities. There is free spaces opposite Highfields School in the village. We parked here and as it was a school day in the middle of December we were lucky to get a space. I can imagine at weekends or during the holiday period, these spaces will fill up fast.

The larger town of Matlock has plenty of parking so if you visit during a busier period, it’s best to park there. It’s only a mile walk to the falls from Matlock so no hassle at all.

There are some reports of visitors parking along the lane running parallel to the falls or at the bottom of the valley. It’s a single track lane with a few passing places and many blind bends. The lane serves local residents and when visitors park along it they cause significant congestion. Be considerate and park in Matlock or up at the school and leave the lane clear.

What to wear

The route along the valley is steep in parts, muddy in others and if you venture off the path to get closer to the water’s edge, somewhat rocky.  Regardless of the time of year, it could be slippy underfoot too. Sensible footwear is essential, preferably a decent pair of walking boots.

Camera gear

If you’re a keen photographer, a few choice items of gear will help you get the best out of the photography opportunities Lumsdale Falls offers. I used a Canon 5dS R body with the 17-40mm f4 and 24-70mm f2.8 lenses. If you have any lens within this kind of range, you’re good to go.

If you’re more serious about your photos, think about attaching a polariser filter to help reduce glare and manage reflections on water’s surface. And do you want to get that dreamy water look? You’ll need a sturdy tripod capable of carrying the combined weight of your camera and lens too. I use a carbon fibre tripod because it’s relatively lightweight, so ideal for carrying while walking up hill!  We visited in early December and it was quite an overcast day. This meant no harsh or direct sunlight and I could get a slow enough shutter speed without the need for extra filters.

Regardless of what kit you have in your camera bag, get out there and just enjoy it!

If you’d like to know more about the history of Lumsdale Valley, head on over here. You can even arrange a guided tour on Sunday’s between March and October.

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