We’ve got in professional writer, Peter Naldrett, who is author of Countryside Books’ Dog Walkers Guide to Derbyshire and the Peak District to tell us about his number one spot in the Peak District to walk his dog; read on to find out more…
There’s no place on Earth like the Peak District. The range of scenery, the challenging walks, the choice of tea rooms, the quirky traditions. And there’s nothing quite like stepping out and embarking on a Peak District adventure with your dog to keep your company.
These strolls are between 2 and 6 miles and aim to avoid as many stiles as possible, keep away from sheep for as much as possible and give dogs the opportunity for a dip in water. Of course, the beauty of the Peak District is that it’s covered in farmland, so it’s not always possible to avoid sheep and stiles…
Fortunately, Derbyshire is also home to some incredibly access-friendly reservoir paths and some wonderfully adapted former railway routes that see dog-walkers plotting the same tracks that steam trains once called their own.
So, I’ll now give you a taste of one of the walks. Ladybower Reservoir is a real favourite with me…
It may be a man-made feature designed to quench the thirst of nearby industrial towns, but there’s no denying that the reservoirs of the Upper Derwent Valley add a mystical charm and surreal beauty to this corner of Derbyshire. Construction on this reservoir started in 1935 – some time after the walls and towers of the reservoirs further up the valley. The work was completed in 1943, though slowed considerably by the war, and the valley took an astonishing two years to fill up before being opened officially by King George VI in 1945. Holding nearly 28 million cubic metres of water, the circular walk in this book only takes in the northern end of the reservoir, which is split into two sections by the A57 road bridge. A very popular stroll with dog owners, this route has the great combination of easy access, good facilities, amazing views, mainly level paths and real sense of being in the countryside.
Distance: 5.8 miles
Road walking: There is a busy stretch of the A57 to walk besides when crossing the road bridge over the reservoir. Other tracks on the way round the reservoir are for access only and unlikely to see much traffic.
Livestock: Sheep may be encountered on the western side of the reservoir, while much of the walk on the eastern side is fenced in on both sides. Take note of local signs asking for dogs to be on leads, and note also that there are likely to be lots of ducks and geese around the visitor centre.
Nearest vets: Hope Valley Veterinary Clinic
This walk is largely on the level, though there are a few slight ups and downs along the way. Near the end of the walk, there are two flights of stairs to negotiate.
Where to park
Where the A57 Snake Pass road crosses over Ladybower Reservoir, there is a road heading off to the north signed for the Derwent Valley at grid reference SK 191, 864. Take this road, head over the cattle grid and beyond the bus turning point. You will see a section of roadside parking on the right and this is the base for your walk. If this stretch of parking is full (and it does tend to fill up on popular days) there is an alternative car park across the road a little further on. Alternative car parks can be found further up the road. OS Map: Explorer OL1 The Peak District – Dark Peak area.
How to get there
The A57 is one of the main roads between Sheffield and Manchester. If coming from the Sheffield side, Ladybower Reservoir is around a 10 minute drive from the edge of the city and the turning for the car park is on the right after the bridge. From Manchester, head over the hills and bends of the Snake Pass and look out for the turning to the Derwent Valley on the left after reaching the reservoir. From the south, take the A6013 to its junction with the A57, turning left onto it before turning right to the car park after the bridge over the reservoir.
At the head of Ladybower Reservoir, between the main expanse of water and the imposing dam wall of Derwent Reservoir, you will find Fairholmes Visitor Centre. As well as toilets, tourist information and shop, there’s also a popular kiosk selling hot and cold drinks and a range of snacks. There’s no indoor seating area, but a nearby shelter can provide respite from bad weather and it’s certainly a great place to grab something to keep energy levels up.
The Walk Itself
From the first car park on the road up to Fairholmes, face the reservoir and walk down the grassy bank towards it. You’ll meet a well used footpath well before the water and you should turn right along it. This path takes you through a small wood, keeping the reservoir on your left. The bridge over the A57 will soon come into view and you should follow the path towards it. At the end of this path there is a gate to go through when you meet the road, and you should turn left onto the pavement when you reach it. At the junction with the A57, turn left again following the signs towards Sheffield and Bamford. Cross the bridge and go past the bus stop.
The bridge you have just crossed is called the Ashopton Viaduct, a reminder of the lost village in this area. When Ladybower Reservoir was filled up for the first time, the village of Ashopton was flooded and now lies to the south of the bridge under water. Any chance of seeing those villages again is lost even to divers because they have now been covered up by silt.
Just after the bus stop there is a concrete track heading up to the left at grid reference SK 195, 864. Take this and make your way away from the A57. At the top of the track, there is a gate to go through straight ahead of you. This leads you back onto the path which goes around the reservoir, keeping the water on your left. The route bends both to the left and right before crossing over a small stream and passing through a gate. This section of the walk is fenced in on both sides. Continue ahead over another stream and through another gate, all the time sticking to this well defined path.
An interpretive board on the left of the path shows pictures of this valley before it was flooded. Look out for the church steeple which once stood close to the spot you are standing in and was eventually destroyed for safety reasons.
When you go through the gate at grid reference SK 185, 887, shortly after the interpretive, you find yourself on a quiet road which is used for access only. Continue ahead, passing Jubilee Cottages on the left which have a post box and a telephone box outside. Sticking to the road, you’ll soon be able to see the large, impressive dam wall of Derwent Reservoir straight ahead. A better view of this is gained as the road bends round to the left. Cross the old bridge and take the footpath just after it on the left which takes you down to the visitor centre.
Beyond the visitor centre and the grassed area, there is a concrete path which you should turn right onto. Turn left onto the road when you reach it. At the end of the first car park on the left, take the path that goes down into the woods. Follow this path as it sticks to the edge of the reservoir and winds a pleasant way through the woods. Head through a gate and down some steps as the path briefly shares the route with some large water pipes. When you climb the steps at the other end you are just a few metres away from the grassy bank where you started. Climb the bank on the right and you’ll find yourself back at the car park.
We hope that you and your dog enjoy your walk in the Peak District together!