The National Stone Centre

The National stone centre is based at Wirksworth, just outside Matlock Bath, and is a place crammed with ancient rocks and minerals, tropical reefs, and has centuries of industrial history. It’s a great place to take the children but it’s very informative and exciting for adults too and is full of wildlife treasures.

It is a protected site of special scientific interest, set in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales on the edge of the peak national Park.

It is also close to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and set in 50 acres of Derbyshire countryside, the National Stone Centre contains six former quarries, over 120 disused lead mineshafts and for lime kilns. There is a wonderful discovery centre, where it’s possible to see the Story Of Stone exhibition and customers can browse through the very best rock and mineral shops in the Midlands, or also have some light refreshments in the cafe area, once you have finished exploring.

The Stone Centre is on a select list of sites as part of the National geological conservation review, for its fossil lagoon, reef mount features and also exciting shark remains. Almost all of the site is made from a limestone deposited in Carboniferous times 330 million years ago and at the bottom, southern edge of the park, the limestone is overlain by younger shales and stones and even thin glacial deposits, which also form the rising ground, below the millstone grit crags.

At the National stone centre, there are a number of stone related courses and workshops available, which are extremely popular and early booking is important to avoid disappointment. They cover all aspects of dry stone wall construction. Members of the dry stonewalling association from all over Britain have constructed a Millennium Wall which forms a trail on the site, using their own styles and local materials. It’s a very unique outdoor museum of traditional dry stone walls, which were built in 19 sections and shows the incredible variety of the skills of walling and the traditions available across the country.

It’s also possible to hire the conference room or the new extension to this Discovery Centre, if you fancy having a meeting at the National stone centre. The site is open all year round and there is also a booking form to fill in or contact the staff there for more information.

There is no entrance charge and the discovery centre is open every day except Christmas Day and there is ample car and coach parking and the site is very easy to find. Based on the Cromford to Cardington Road, the B5035, it is very easy to get to by car, and the Derby to Bakewell bus route via Wirksworth goes with Trent Barton buses. If you are travelling by train then Cromford station is one and a half miles away on the Derby to Matlock line using East Midlands trains. The high Peak Trail runs through the stone centre site so it’s a great place to stop off and take a break from your walk.