Wirksworth – a guide for visiting this town in 2023


Derbyshire is packed with lovely villages and towns, but we feel that the area is quite underrated as a destination to visit. We've previously published guides about locations like Matlock which are very enjoyable to visit for a weekend.

Wirksworth is a great example of a Derbyshire town which is not only very pretty, it also has lots to see and do, and which we feel more people should know about. 

We wanted to publish a guide about Wirksworth for anyone planning to visit in 2023, let's get into it:

Where is Wirksworth?

Wirksworth is approximately 5 miles southwest of Matlock. Additionally, Wirksworth is about 14 miles north of Derby, the county town of Derbyshire. If you're travelling from further afield then Wirksworth is about 24 miles to the North West of Nottingham.

The town's picturesque setting in the Derbyshire Dales makes it a popular destination for visitors seeking both natural beauty and historical charm.

What is there to see and do in Wirksworth?

You've got plenty to see and do in and around Wirksworth. Here are some of the highlights:


The StarDisc in Wirksworth is an incredible thing which has to be seen to be believed. It's a large (40ft wide) illuminated stone circle which mirrors the night sky. This means at night you can see the stars above reflected in the StarDisc, which is quite an amazing thing to witness. The surface of the stone circle has constellations inscribed on it, which helps you to identify what stars you're looking at. It's quite a climb up to the StarDisc as it sits above the town in Stoney Wood, but the bonus is that the views from up there are really great. Learn more and plan your visit here -

St Mary's Church

Derbyshire is full of lovely churches and other historical buidlings, and we definitely think that St Mary's Church in Wirksworth is one of the prettiest that you'll find in the county. The church mostly dates from the 13th to the 15th century, but there are Anglo-Saxon carvings in the church on a coffin lid which is thought to date back to the 7th century. The coffin lid is mounted on the north wall of the nave and is very impressive to see.
St Mary's Church

Wirksworth Heritage Centre

If you're looking to learn more about the history of Wirksworth then a trip to Wirksworth Heritage Centre is highly recommended. Here you'll find a small museum dedicated to Wirksworth which is packed with information about the history of the town. The interactive displays are great for young and old alike, and you'll learn about everything from the lead mining which took place in the local area to famous people who were born and raised in the area. Once you've explored the displays, you should absolutely visit the cafe which is also excellent and serves up lovely homemade food and great coffee. Learn more here -

The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

Operating along a historic railway line, The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway journey offers glimpses of rolling hills, charming villages, and serene landscapes. The lovingly restored vintage trains evoke a sense of yesteryears, adding to the enchanting experience. Visitors can choose from various themed train rides, special events, and dining experiences. The friendly volunteers and passionate staff provide insightful commentary, enhancing the journey's appeal. Whether for train enthusiasts, families, or anyone seeking a delightful escapade, The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway promises a memorable and enjoyable day out. Learn more here -

Mount Cook Adventure Centre

5 minutes drive from Wirksworth you'll find the Mount Cook Adventure Centre, an excellent outdoor activity centre which is lots of fun for all ages. It's a not for profit organisation, and the entire goal of the centre is to push people (mainly kids) out of their comfort zone and help them to achieve something which will make them feel great about themselves. This could be anything from flying down a zip line to abseiling down a wall. We love the concept and think if you're with your family then you should definitely head here, learn more here -

National Stone Centre

What we really love about The National Stone Centre is that it offers both an educational and enjoyable experience. Visitors can explore old quarries, discover fossils, and learn about the region's rich history of stone extraction and craftsmanship. Interactive exhibits and guided tours provide insights into geological processes, while the beautiful surroundings provide an opportunity for leisurely walks and picnics. Whether interested in geology, history, or simply appreciating nature's wonders, the National Stone Centre offers an enriching and enjoyable outing for visitors of all ages. Learn more here -

The Northern Light Cinema

If you want to catch a movie during your time in Wirksworth then you should definitely head to The Northern Light Cinema, a really cool and excellent independent cinema. Based in the ground floor of an 18th century Malthouse, this cinema has a lovely setting and we love the quirky interior. It's also great for watching a wide range of movies, with everything from newer blockbusters to older classics regularly screened here. Definitely check this place out if you're a film buff, learn more here -

Carsington Water

Carsington Water is a reservoir located between Wirksworth and Kniveton which is well worth a look for a number of reasons. For starters, it's very pretty - it's estimated to be in the region of 8 billion gallons of water, and the views across the water are really beautiful. You'll also find walking trails around the reservoir which are really enjoyable to follow and allow you to take in the views from all angles. But for the adrenaline junkies, you can actually take part in water sports on Carsington Water. You can hire a kayak or a paddleboard and get out onto the open water, or bring your own stuff if you have it. If the sun is out then Carsington Water is well worth a visit, learn more here -

Wirksworth Festival

The Wirksworth Festival is regarded as one of the best contemporary art festivals in England, and if you're in the town during this festival period then you're in for a very special treat. Taking place across 10 days, the festival is a smorgasbord of music, performance, and visual arts. It usually runs at the start of September, and even if the weather isn't great the show will continue. Volunteering at the festival is a great way to get involved and to meet some really interesting people. Learn more here -

Getting to Wirksworth

Getting to Wirksworth from other parts of Derbyshire is relatively straightforward with several transportation options available. If traveling by car, follow the A6 or A38 to reach Derby, then take the A52 westbound towards Ashbourne. From Ashbourne, head north on the A517, which leads directly to Wirksworth. Additionally, the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway operates vintage train services from Duffield, allowing visitors to enjoy a scenic and nostalgic journey through the beautiful Derbyshire countryside before arriving at Wirksworth station.


If you're travelling from elsewhere then here is some useful information for getting to Wirksworth:


We hope this guide has inspired you to visit this brilliant town. If you're interested in visiting other locations in Derbyshire then we have guides about Matlock & Matlock Bath.

Finn is the editor of You Well and has been writing about travel, health, and more for over 10 years.

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