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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Belper, Derbyshire - local places of interest

Belper – guide to Belper, Derbyshire

Belper is a small, bustling little town situated on the A6 between Matlock and Derby, and whilst often overlooked in favour of its nearby neighbours of Matlock Bath, Matlock itself and beyond them Bakewell, is still worth a visit for tourists and those living in Derbyshire itself.

Belper is also the home of Fabulous Photo Gifts – personalised photo gifts and we thought it was about time we introduced you to some of the attractions Belper has to offer. They're in no particular order and we're not trying to show any favouritism here – it's just a few places that we've enjoyed visiting.

Belper has some beautiful old Mill buildings following the line of the River Derwent. The most impressive is the East Mill, which towers over the town. It has a small visitor centre offering guided tours and the ever-present gift shop. Behind the Mill itself, is a public garden and river park called the River Gardens. You can stroll through the riverside gardens which lead to a well maintained childrens play area.

It also has its own indoor childrens play centre – you know the sort with large padded climbing frames, ball pits and slides. There's plenty of comfy seating for mums and dads who can also enjoy a range of hot drinks and pastries etc.

On the river itself, you'll find rowing boats for hire, which you can use to travel upstream and if your time and energy allow, go as far as Ambergate and beyond. There's also a powered cruiser that operates, usually on holiday weekends. Swans, Ducks and Geese frequent the river walk ever hopeful of a few scraps of bread so be sure to go prepared.

The river ends at the river gardens at an impressive weir as the the river level drops under the Ashbourne road before proceeding along the Derwent Valley towards Derby itself.

Heading back into town, there are various pubs and restaurants dotted amongst the start of the shopping area. No shortage of places to eat or drink. All quite reasonably priced. Again, large former Mill buildings follow you along – Fabulous Photo Gifts has a small workshop display area in one of them at Derwentside, Derwent Street.

Heading up to the market place which occasionally holds farmer's markets, you'll come a cross delightful tea rooms and eventually the Ritz Cinema.

The Ritz Cinema is a real gem. A delightful little cinema which shows a great range of new releases and golden oldies. The auditorium itself is small but comfortable and you can book continental style chairs with adjoining tables on the very back row, comfy two seater sofa's to the standard plush seating. All steeply raked so that everyone gets a good view. It's also licenced!

If you head further past the Market Place, then you'll find a collection of Antique shops.

Belper has its own Heritage Trail aimed at preserving the architectural and industrial significance of the area.

With regular bus services from Derby, Matlock, Bakewell and even Manchester, you'll also find Belper has a scheduled local train service that runs along the Derwent Valley.

There's free parking behind the market place or you can pay and display at the River Gardens and other car parks dotted around. The usual MacDonalds, supermarket and diy store are all located on the one central roundabout on the A6 itself.

Another large Mill building here houses a collection of fashion outlets, including a factory warehouse style 'mill shop' where last years fashions are sold at a fraction of their original cost.

You'll find free parking for visitors to Fabulous Photo Gifts within the Derwentside Antiques Mill just off Derwent Street. If you're visiting to discuss a particular gift idea in person, please telephone in advance so that Mandy can be there in person to help with your enquiry.

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