Along the valley from the base of Church Rocks to Horse Tor via the Pig or Pigtree Tor (only later sanitised to Pic Tor) ran a path. A Lover’s Walk. A purpose-built promenade for leisurely walking, laid out between the tors and the river from Knowlestone Place Gardens to the steel suspension bridge in Matlock Dale.
Matlock’s enterprising urban district council’s plan for celebrating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 was for a bridge be thrown over the Town Brook (now more commonly called the Bentley Brook) at Knowlestone Place, to below the Pig Tor Rocks, and from there a path to the extremity of the district, joining that of Matlock Bath.
More a pipe dream than plan, the scheme did not come to fruition until five years after the Jubilee.
In 1902 the UDC agreed to complete the footpath from Hall Leys Promenade along the riverside as far as the Dale Road bridge. Frederick Charles Arkwright (great grandson of Sir Richard Arkwright and Vice-Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire) and the High Tor Company agreed to lease part of the Willersley Castle estate to the Council. By the end of March 1903 the paths were made and seats placed at strategic points along the walk. At the eastern end of the promenade, adjacent to the suspension bridge, an old boathouse and the boats within were bought by the UDC for £35. The refurbished boathouse by August 1903 was in use as a drill hall by the Matlock Volunteers.
From the promenade to the Romantic Rocks of the Tors steeply graded switchback paths took the more adventurous onto Church Rock and the picnic and concert site that would become Matlock’s War Memorial.
In September 1920 the UDC acquired the Pic Tor Promenade and surrounding land for a nominal fee of £350. This enabled them to erect the Matlock war memorial. The exposed and elevated site could be seen from miles around.
In February 2016 we walked through the graveyard of the church to the War Memorial, then down through the woods to the river and along the Promenade beneath Pic Tor and Church Rocks.
Hand in hand through history.