Derby is a town which is easy to explore on foot, walk amongst the old buildings and experience the creativity of the town. It’s also a great town to kick off day trip adventures to the Peak District National Park which is less than an hour drive away.
If you are going to Download Festival in Donington Park, Derby is an ideal place to seek accommodation if you prefer not to camp.
The first settlement in Derby was around 50AD when the Romans established a military fort just west of the River Derwent. Another fort, Derwentio, was built 30 years later on the east of the river. The Romans left after three centuries of occupation. It was one century later that a village called ‘Little Chester’ near the Roman forts was established by Saxons.
The Danes arrived in 873AD and captured the town from the Saxons, renaming it to Derby, which comes from the word “deor” in Danish which means deer settlement.
In the 10th century, the Saxons recaptured the city from the Danes and brought it within English control.
During the Industrial Revolution, the town was an important producer of silk, bone china and later locomotives and Rolls-Royce aircraft engines.
Just a note if you are visiting Derby on a Sunday or Monday, the town is reasonably quiet with many of the tourist attractions closed.
1. Derby River Gardens
The Derby River Gardens offer a scenic view on the banks of the River Derwent.
2. Derby War Memorial
The memorial commemorates the Great War from 1914 to 1918, and the World War from 1939 to 1945.
3. The Old Bell Hotel
Established in 1650, The Old Bell Hotel is Derby’s oldest Hotel, Bar and Restaraunt, and the city’s oldest surviving coaching in.
Today at the historic venue you can find restaurants offering Sunday Lunch, a Steak-House, Afternoon Tea, British Traditional foods and pub snacks. A range of bars is also available from you to choose from.
If you are interested in a ghost story or two, the Old Bell Hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in the UK, with ghost tours in the town which either start or end at the venue.
4. Old Blacksmith’s Yard
The Old Blacksmith’s Yard is situated by Sadler Gate which is over 1000 years old, with the possibility that this is where Bonnie Prince Charlie travelled through into Derby in 1745.
The Blacksmith’s Yard contains the following places to check out:
- Blacksmith Loft bar and restaurant
- The Forge bar and gourmet grill
- BPM Records
- The Palfrey wine bar and restaurant
- The Anvil Gallery
5. Derby Ghost Walk and Jail
There are a variety of Ghost Walks provided by Richard Felix:
- The City Center Ghostwalk which starts off at The Old Bell Hotel on Sadlergate. The tour discusses the haunting at the hotel and points of interest in the city along the route.
- The Friar Gate Ghost Walk which starts off at the back entrance of The Derby Goal, on Agard Street. The tour describes the treatment of inmates at the Goal and the appearance of ghostly beings.
- Darley Abbey Ghost Walk at the Darley Abbey Village and Park, which focuses on those who have stayed behind at the cotton bill and the UK’s largest monastery.
- Public Overnight Vigil’s, paranormal investigation in Derby Goal.
If you are interested in a tour, you can get in touch with Richard Felix: https://richard-felix.co.uk/contact-richard/
6. Derby Museum and Art Gallery
Note the museum’s opening times, they are closed on a Sunday and Monday. This might affect your visit.
The museum offers free entry for visitors to take a look at fine art, which includes a collection of Joseph Write paintings. There is a military exhibition which displays a range of weapons and artefacts.
7. Pickford House Museum and Garden
Same as above, note the museum’s opening times as they are closed on a Sunday and Monday. This might affect your visit.
This is a great museum to visit if you are curious to see what life in the 18th century would have looked like. Take a step into a house built in 1770, with exhibitions of the clothing and domestic life for the rich and their servants in the 18th century.
8. Derby Escape Room
If solving puzzles and putting clues together is something that interests you, the Derby Escape Room has a lot to offer. They have 3 different escape rooms and can offer tickets for a group of minimum of two people to a maximum 7. Great for a group activity.
Derby is known for its “Cathedral Quater”, referring to the Cathedrals in the town.
The Derby Cathedral was first built in 1530, renovated in 1969 and 2015. Its tower height reaches up to 65 meters.
Another cathedral photographed in this article is St. Mary’s Church. It was opened more recently in 1839. Visitors are welcome to take a look in the cathedral at the impressive interior.