£30,000 facelift for major player in our famous Illuminations

After a £30,000 facelift Matlock Bath's iconic Lovers' Walks are all set to play a part in one of the region's biggest autumn festivals.

Derbyshire Dales District Council's 2015 Matlock Bath Illuminations will take place every Saturday and Sunday from 12 September to 31 October for the 118th year.

Lovers Walks from Derwent GardensYet only a few weeks ago, the future of the Illuminations - featuring a famous parade of decorated boats and fireworks every Saturday from 19 September - was in serious doubt when the Lovers' Walks were closed because of rockfall concerns.

Overlooking the Derwent Gardens centrepiece of the Illuminations, the Lovers' Walks are, in the event of any emergency, an evacuation route for the thousands of visitors who pour into the popular festival, which started over a century ago as a celebration of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

The District Council closed Lovers' Walks, including a children's play area and nearby hillside walks, at the start of June after a geological report found loose rocks represented a risk to users.

Tideswell company Rock Solutions Ltd were called in to tackle rock scaling works, completed in time for the section of Lovers' Walks between the Jubilee Bridge and New Bridge, including the children's play area, to reopen at the start of August.

Lovers Walks from New BridgeBut damage to footpaths, railings, shelters and lampposts caused by deliberately sending large boulders down from the 60 metre hillside during the closure period, meant footpaths to the north of Jubilee Bridge and to the south of New Bridge remained closed a little longer.

Now all riverside footpaths along the full stretch of Lovers' Walks have reopened in time for the Illuminations, and only one hillside path is still closed.

A District Council spokesperson said:

"Bearing in mind the uncertainty of just a few weeks ago, we are absolutely delighted with the way this project has gone. Matlock Bath traders were understandably concerned when a shadow was cast over this year's Illuminations, because the 100,000 people attracted to our annual event boosts the local economy by an estimated £3-million - and extends the village's important tourist season.

"The sheer size of some of the loose boulders deliberately dislodged during the scaling work has fully justified the money spent to ensure public safety - and, working with Rock Solutions, we will continue to monitor the rockface to identify any potential future problems.

"Just one hillside walk is still cordoned off because of damage caused to railings by rocks during the scaling work, and the same goes for one shelter and a couple of lamp posts, but Lovers' Walks are back in use and the last remaining pieces of repair work will be completed very soon."

  • It's cheaper to book Illuminations tickets online.

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