Ladybower Reservoir Walk (6 Miles) including Derwent Dam Viewpoint
Ladybower Reservoir Walk: Essential Route Details
Distance: 6.0 miles/9.6 kilometres
Walking time: 2 hours
Start and endpoint: A57 (Snake Road) by Ashopton Viaduct, postcode: S33 0AX
The Y-shaped Ladybower Reservoir is a beautiful body of water surrounded by the stunning hills of the Derbyshire Peak District. Walking around it is possible in just two hours, during which you’ll enjoy views of Bamford Edge and Win Hill. Unlike many popular Ladybower Reservoir walking routes on Google, this one features free parking and has the visitor centre halfway through the walk, rather than stopping there. This way, if you need a refreshment or the toilet, you don’t need to wait until the end of your walk!
Where is Ladybower Reservoir?
The reservoir is located in the heart of the Peak District National Park in the Upper Derwent Valley on the famous Snake Road running between Sheffield and Glossop. To the north of Ladybower Reservoir are some of the most remote parts of the national park. To the south are the villages of Bamford, Hope Valley, Hope and Hathersage.
Nearby landmarks include Bamford Edge, Stanage Edge, Alport Castles, Mam Tor, Derwent Edge and Derwent Reservoir and Dam. And, a trip to any of these can easily be coupled up with an excursion to Ladybower Reservoir.
Ladybower Reservoir Walk: Directions and Information
Free car parking is available in marked bays on the roadside of the A57 (Snake Road). The bays run for about 300 metres east of Ashopton Viaduct, on the reservoir side of the road (westbound side).
For easy navigation to the parking spaces for this walk, use the following:
Postcode: S33 OAX
GPS coordinates: 53.374531, -1.707759
Ordnance Survey Grid Ref: SK 19559 86443
Walk Start Point
This Ladybower Reservoir circular walk starts (and ends) at the slip road leading off of the A57 and heading north along the eastern side of the reservoir. The slip road is about 50 metres east of Ashopton Viaduct. For absolute clarity, I’ve included a photo above so you can make sure you’re in the right place!
Not only is this walk easy to complete, but it’s also easy to follow. As, for the most part, you are simply walking the perimeter of the reservoir! Nevertheless, below are directions to keep you on track and ensure you don’t miss any parts of this Ladybower Reservoir walk (particularly the Derwent Dam viewpoint). Not that you can miss Derwent Dam itself – it’s huge!
A57 to Derwent Dam (Part 1)
- From the start point, stick to the path as it weaves its way along the eastern edge of the reservoir. After about 1.7 km, there is a small beach area just off of the path. Here, you’ll have a great viewpoint of the reservoir as most of the walk so far is under the cover of trees.
- After this viewpoint, the path comes out of the trees. And, there are fantastic views over the reservoir and the hills behind. Approximately 1 km after the beach there is another area water-level viewpoint, which is also a good spot to stop for a drink and to enjoy the view!
- Continuing along the path for another 1.5 km, you’ll soon see the imposing Derwent Dam from down below! As the path starts to loop around the top of the reservoir, there is a small bridge crossing the stream from the Upper Derwent Reservoir to Ladybower Reservoir. Just after this bridge, take the path on the right-hand side through the trees to the top of the reservoir wall.
- Just beyond the reservoir wall, there is a small viewpoint where you can overlook Derwent reservoir and enjoy views stretching towards Bamford Edge. Additionally, just a few metres further along the reservoir there is a memorial to Tip the Sheepdog. Who, had stayed with her owner’s body for over 100 days back in 1954 until a rescue team found them.
Derwent Dam to A57 (Part 2)
- After enjoying the viewpoint, walk 500 metres back south along the road until you reach a small roundabout. If you are wanting refreshments or to use the toilets, then you can visit the Fairholmes Visitor Centre here (also known as the Upper Derwent Visitor Centre). From the visitor centre, rejoin the road and continue heading south parallel to the reservoir.
- 400 metres along the road, take the path on the left-hand side of the road toward the water’s edge. The path crosses a few small and slightly narrow bridges whilst weaving in and out of wooded areas.
- The path runs parallel to the reservoir and road for another 3.5 km – all the way back to the A57. Just before the road, there is a large grassy area that gives a stunning viewpoint of Ashopton Viaduct with Bamford Edge in the background. Be sure to stop here for a photograph or two!
- At the road, turn left and walk across Ashopton Viaduct. Being on the right-hand side of the road will give you the best views over the rest of Ladybower Reservoir. The walk ends back at the slip road off of the A57 towards the reservoir – you’ll just need to remember where you parked the car!
I’d recommend the nearby Yorkshire Bridge Inn for a well-deserved, post-walk drink or meal!
Click the link above to download the file for use in a GPS viewer. This way you’ll be able to track where you are on the route using your phone’s GPS – avoiding accidental detours and providing reassurance for less experienced countryside walkers! Once you’ve downloaded the GPX file above, install a GPX viewer app (Google PlayStore or iPhone App Store) and load the GPX file.
What to do at Ladybower Reservoir?
The best activity at Ladybower is a long walk (or cycle) along or around parts of the reservoir. With its stunning backdrop and calm waters, it’s not a walk to be missed. Bike hire is available near to the reservoir. Walks to the nearby Win Hill, Bamford Edge and Back Tor also complement a stroll along Ladybower Reservoir.
Is Ladybower Reservoir Car Park Open?
The parking for this Ladybower Reservoir walk is on the roadside of the A57 (Snake Road). Parking in the marked bays is permitted and free 24/7, 365 days a year.
Other car parks near Ladybower Reservoir include Heatherdene Car Park (£3 all day) and Fairholmes Car Park/Upper Derwent Visitor Centre (£5 all day). Both are open 24 hours. All three car parks do get full on weekends and bank holidays. If visiting on those days, it’s best to arrive early and have a back-up car park if your first choice is full.
Can You Swim at Ladybower Reservoir?
No, much like almost every other reservoir in the UK, swimming is prohibited. This is, amongst a large number of factors, due to their remote locations, lack of lifeguards and very cold water. Also, large items can sadly be dumped in reservoirs causing hidden hazards due to the very low water visibility.
Can You Cycle Around Ladybower Reservoir?
Yes! In addition to bikes being available for hire, the paths are pretty much flat the whole way around the reservoir and more than wide enough to fit two cyclists passing each other by. In this Ladybower Reservoir route, the only real uphill section is the climb to Derwent Dam viewpoint. This can be challenging for lesser experienced cyclists, in which case you can either skip the dam viewpoint or leave the bikes chained to a bench and continue on foot.
Is Ladybower Reservoir Pram Friendly?
Yes, the main path that runs around the reservoir is mostly flat and a dirt track. As mentioned above, the only substantial incline on this route is from the reservoir-level path to the Derwent Dam viewpoint. If you are walking with a pram or buggy, the best option may be to follow the path all the way to the road (roundabout) and then turn right towards the Dam. You can then retrace your steps back to the roundabout and continue the walk as described above.
And, while we’re on the topic of pram friendly, the walk is also good for children. The surroundings of the path vary from forest areas to open areas with impressive views of the water and hills. Plus, there are also a couple of water-level viewpoints for skimming stones and getting close to the water. There was even a family of ducks and ducklings at Ashopton Viaduct, which kept me amused for longer than I should admit!
When was Ladybower Reservoir Built?
Construction of the reservoir ended in 1943. While it was not completely full of water until 1945. In the 1990s, strengthening of the dam wall of Ladybower Reservoir took place to prevent damage in case of major floods.
Why was Ladybower Reservoir Built?
Growing water demands in the East Midlands necessitated the construction of Ladybower Reservoir, in addition to Howden Reservoir (completed in 1912) and Derwent Reservoir (completed in 1916). Although, there was strong opposition to its construction at the time! Howden and Derwent Reservoirs now flow into Ladybower Reservoir. Which, in turn, supplies water to the treatment plant in Bamford. The three reservoirs supply water to the whole of Derbyshire as well as parts of neighbouring counties.
What Village is Under Ladybower Reservoir?
The filling of Ladybower Reservoir flooded the villages of Ashopton and Derwent. Before the flooding, demolition of most buildings in the villages took place. However, the clock tower in Derwent was visible above the waterline until 1947, when it too was demolished for safety reasons. Additionally, critically low water levels expose several buildings from the old village of Derwent. Unfortunately, the interest in the exposed village led to numerous members of the public needing rescuing from the thick mud as well as the buildings being vandalised.
Do have any questions or want any more information? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
Information correct as of July 2021 but is subject to change in future.
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